For The Ones Who Have Survived Emotional Trauma

Acy Varlan
Acy Varlan

“The worst is over,” she told me with urgency and a fire in her eyes.

She barely knew me, barely knew my story, barely knew my pain and the losses that had altered me. But she somehow knew that I needed to know – needed to be reminded of my blossoming strength and the stepping stone my suffering had become.

And I had to agree with her. Every enlightened part of my soul and every throbbing piece of my heart had to agree.

The worst is over.

I can see it in my eyes when I look in the mirror, the ghostly stare of suppressed pain no longer staring back at me. I can see it in the way the sunlight peeks through my blinds, reminding me that a new day is waiting to be faced, even if I feel minimally prepared to face it. I can see it in the smiling faces of the people who make up my support system. I can see it in the roads I long to travel and the views I long to admire. I can see it in the clock that reads 11:11 at the exact, unsuspecting moment I glance in its direction, reminding me that I’m in a safe place – a good place. I can see it in my to-do lists and the ink marks that proudly obscure each and every item. I can see it in the words that fill empty pages and the look on my face when a new and promising idea sets my creativity into motion.

The worst is over.

I can hear it in the sound of my therapist’s voice. I can hear it in the uplifting music that pours through my earbuds as I lose myself in the lyrics. I can hear it in other people’s stories of strength and survival. I can hear it in the way my laughter sounds lively and genuine instead of small and forced. I can hear it in the way my voice sounds full of life instead of robotic and stilted.

The worst is over.

I can smell it in the spritz of perfume I put on before heading out to start a new chapter. I can smell it in the burning incense that inspires comfort and mindfulness. I can smell it in the smoke of my friend’s cigarette as she rides shotgun, listening to my grievances and sharing a few of her own. I can smell it in the first batch of cookies I’ve baked since picking myself up off the floor and finding my way around the kitchen. I can smell it in the fresh air of a new day and the aftermath of rain that has finally stopped pouring.

The worst is over.

I can taste it in my mouth, which is no longer blistered and bleeding as a result of a nervous habit gone haywire. I can taste it in the simple pleasure of an early morning cup of coffee and the smooth chill of ice cream after a long day. I can taste it in the home cooked, wholesome meal my grandmother went out of her way to make for me. I can taste it in the free hashbrowns I get at the job that keeps me out of my head – and the way my favorite employee cares enough to always make sure I eat them while they’re hot. I can taste it in every meal I put in my body instead of in the trash.

The worst is over.

I can feel it in the oxygen that enters and leaves my lungs with ease. I can feel it in the deepest part of my chest, which no longer feels like it’s full of stones and broken glass. I can feel it in the wind that blows through my hair and brings a grateful smile to my lips. I can feel it in the regularity of my heartbeat. I can feel it in the warmth of my dog’s body resting peacefully next to mine. I can feel it in my fingertips as I learn how to type words and flip pages again. I can feel it in my bones, in my soul, and in my body.

And I can feel it in the embrace of the woman who reminded me that the worst is finally over. TC mark

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