The Friend of Love

My best friend is moving away. She’d been dropping hints for months, but I decided to retreat behind a wall of denial and hope for the best. The best was not to be. Ellen is moving, and there isn’t anything I can do about it. We had our share of joyous events over the short time we had together. Once, a seafood company sent $300’s worth of prime, unreturnable Maryland seafood by mistake. Arriving in dry ice from across the country, the first person I called to join in on the windfall was Ellen.

The more I got to know her, the more my story of trauma spilled out. As luck would have it, Ellen had a story of her own. We enjoyed each other’s company without having to explain anything. Despite Covid 19 and the isolation imposed on the rest of the country, we were able to gather outside under a cloudless desert sky whenever the notion struck us. If I needed something, I could always call on Ellen. She was just around the corner. Now she won’t be.

Attachments, especially secure ones, are a difficult thing for trauma survivors. When you have lived through the betrayal of the soul, trust becomes an issue. Calm, quiet, and steadfast, Ellen showed up when it counted. She didn’t try to fix me or offer advice. She was simply…present.

My emotions have always been like a roiling torrent of white water rapids. Pain from the past rushing forward leaving me in a heap of despair and self-hatred no matter what I was trying to grapple with. But I’m healing, and my relationship with Ellen is proof of that. This time, I have been able to take the hand of grief, feel its depth and not become lost.

Upon hearing the news of Ellen’s impending move, a neighbor remarked. “This is why I don’t get close to people. They always leave.” We all leave whether because of a move, old age, sickness, or death, life is a series of hellos and good-byes. If grief is the price I must pay for the joyous year I had with Ellen, I will gladly pay it. This is what it means to navigate life with resiliency.

I used to think my emotional struggles were about all the hatred and suffering trauma has caused. It’s those negative feelings that give me problems and make it impossible to cope. I was wrong. Love is the culprit. Love’s outrage is the reason trauma is so painful. Like strange bedfellows, grief is the friend of love, not the enemy. I will embrace it as such.

 

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