How I Handle Difficult Anniversaries

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness month. And I am all too aware of the cruel irony of having been attacked on this day, two years ago, during domestic violence awareness month. Here’s what I know about making it through hours, days, months, and years so far.

I panicked through every day at first. How do you live, knowing your attacker made bail? How do you sleep? I can tell you that I took every bit of medical leave I could, and it was not enough.

Then, every month, the fourth slapped me in the face. I tried to be kind to myself on those days. I lowered my expectations, and I let myself have things I looked forward to. I couldn’t immediately read books because I was too panicked to focus. But I’d buy myself books I knew I would’ve wanted, and I put them away as a visual sign of my faith, when everyone else lost faith in me.

But I knew I couldn’t handle the one-year anniversary. And I am lucky. There was no expectation that I would. When I told my boyfriend that I wanted to leave town, to not be in the house I was attacked in, on the anniversary, he made it happen. We hiked for days, soaking up the mountains and waterfalls, distracting me and honoring my wish.

Not everyone wants to take off on a difficult day, but I like to give myself something to look forward to. It’s a way to balance out what should be sad. I choose to live vibrantly that day, the day I could have died instead.

Whatever you choose, be kind to yourself. Balance out the sorrow and pain with things you are looking forward to. Give yourself reasons to be happy you’re breathing–especially on the hard days.

I’m writing this ahead of time. I suspect I won’t be out of town, fleeing my memories. It’s a class day. (Being a doctor and an author is a priority.) But it’s a hard day for me. So far, it looks like a night out with friends who don’t want me to pretend everything is normal–throwing axes and having a couple of drinks. I hope to get out of town on Fall Break.

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