Finding the Flame: From A Columbine Survivor’s Standpoint
Sometimes people believe that peace after trauma is not humanly possible. Trauma sticks with you like that mustard stain on your shirt that will never completely go away, no matter how many times you wash it. But the question is – why do they believe that? It is truly a matter of semantics. If there was a way to get rid of the pain, nightmares, PTSD triggers, and instead be happy – who wouldn’t take that leap? The problem becomes with how we define peace as individuals, and the effort it takes to achieve it. Most people don’t find peace because they don’t think they can since it is not a pill, a drink, or a magical elixir found elsewhere to numb their pain. It lies within the depth of their being, enveloped and suffocated by the emotions and reminders of their trauma.
What Peace Looks Like:
I know that peace is possible after trauma because I experience it every day. For me, this is what peace looks like: no trauma-related nightmares, comfort with my back facing the door, a quiet mind, open heart, ability to laugh without feeling guilty, loving the memories of those who are gone, understanding of the self, hopefulness, and appreciation of the those I connect with. Everyone sees peace differently, which is why people say it is not possible. Peace isn’t pretending the traumatic event didn’t happen, it is accepting the new you that came out of the ashes in the aftermath.
Give Me Peace:
The single most important step on this path to peace is the first one – the one where you as an individual decide to commit to yourself and fight for yourself until you have the peace that you seek. Nobody can take that step but you. For me, it was like I could imagine the two versions of myself – the person I was before the shooting at Columbine, and the scared, broken person I was afterward. The one link I found between them was my essence, flickering in the dark – like a flame sputtering, wanting to go out, but trying to fend off the darkness. Once I found the ember, I held it, protected it, and decided I wouldn’t ever abandon myself again, because that fire was too precious.
A Friend in Me:
Once I embarked on my path, I had a cheerleader to help me and guide me – because I could always have somebody to count on, a friend when I needed one most – myself. I made a commitment to do whatever it took to enrich that small flame I found. This was not a New Year’s resolution that could be broken, but a choice I actively made every day (sometimes many times a day). I found my peace because I chose to fight however long it took, never giving up because I was worth it. And that sputtering flame? Well, it became my guiding light within.