In times of trauma, I become the ‘woman of indomitable spirit’. Rather than succumb to the pain and mourn the losses, my brain turns into command central. The situation gets triaged and I determine how to best save the wounded–myself among them. Can I save the leg? No? Then I will save the life. Let’s just make it to safety, and we’ll deal with the rest later. We can live without a leg, can we not?
Except, sometimes we cannot. After life lobs and lands a grenade in my lap, I may drag myself and my kin to safety but once there I cannot function. I cannot speak about my distress, cannot accept any treatments of any kind. In the aftermath I just want to forget the attack and go back to normal. Give me a routine to fall into so that I feel regular again.
But what is normal anymore? I’ve lost pieces of myself on these battlefields. The desolation of who I thought I was, who I wanted to be envelops me in weeping jags and a rage so profound that my teeth break from clenching my jaws and grinding. The words that come out of my mouth are cowardly words, a lioness roaring in distress to scare away those who might help, to hurt those who hurt with me and around me so that they cannot see my despair. The only good feeling is to sit and lick the salt of my tears and remember the days when I was whole.
I resent those I save some days because my salvation has never been enough. I’m screaming then whispering I got you out of the fire, didn’t I? I dragged you off the battlefield–even getting wounded saving you! What else? What else do you want? I have nothing left. I have nothing left. And yet I can see that they need more than just saving–that they need healing too. But in this barren land, I have neither tool nor supply nor desire to do more than I’ve already done, sacrifice more than I’ve already sacrificed. As they complain about what I’m not doing, not being, my fists clench and I turn my face to the wall to keep from destroying them all. I am tired. And don’t they see that I’m wounded too? I miss my leg. I can’t move. I’m stuck in this place just like them.
Life is no movie, and there’s no glory in being a hero. People may praise your mighty acts, but as soon as the song ends and the drinks are gone, they run from your need and your pain. No help, just hollow claps before they move on to the next awesome tale of survival. And I’m left here, not even heroic anymore–just broken and bitter about all that I’ve lost, all that I’m still losing as my force is drained to keep saving those I’ve saved over and over again.
(Artwork by Sandra Rumpel on Deviant Art sandrarumpel.deviantart.com)