I experienced an emotionally charged and physically exhausting day yesterday. I began the first, “real leg” as I refer to it, of Prolonged Exposure. I am being treated for military trauma that still affects me heavily today. As part of my counseling journey, I am bound by ethics to “clean up my own closet,” before I attempt to help others do the same.
I barely made it through the first part of the five-day memory and I was a sobbing puddle of tears, anger, and embarrassment. I was embarrassed that my counselor had “seen me this way.” I was angry at him for pushing me and at myself, because somehow I was allowing this memory to turn me into a sobbing, practically hysterical mess, and I was not proud of that. How did it still hold so much power and why could I not just get rid of it? Or at the very least, be able to turn it into a bad memory, versus something that affects my life today.
I left my counselor’s office with swollen eyes; head down/eyes down as I made my way through the VA. I did not want to be seen and I did not want to see anyone else. I wanted to get to the safety of my vehicle and have some alone time to recover. How many more weeks do I have of this and is it really going to work; were the two questions on my mind. I answered myself (of course)…too many weeks and Lord I sure do hope so!
I want the pain to be worth something.
As I got home I realized with sudden horror that I had forgotten to send a gift to my friend. It was her birthday and I make a point to send flowers every year! She is special to me and I like to remind her of that fact from time to time and there is no better day to do that than a birthday. Somehow I had allowed my overly stressed, busy life and duress to overwhelm enough that I had forgotten! This would absolutely NOT do!
I rushed into my house, dropped my stuff by the front door, grabbed my purse and headed to the computer. My first few attempts to get flowers had failed, but finally, I had secured a beautiful basket that could be delivered to her the same day. Relief flooded in as I filled out the shipping information and selected to have a balloon and personal message attached. She would know that I was thinking of her on her special day and that was what really mattered.
I was able to put aside my distress and emotional turmoil to make sure my friend would know I care. This simple act of kindness for another person, allowed me to recover more quickly, from the hour and a half of hell I had just managed to get through. Surprisingly, I felt a little better for it. Now, I do not advocate doing things for others so that you can personally “feel better,” as it should not be the nature of giving. One should give because they are truly moved to do so and not because they feel they will get something in return.
Being that this was not my intention and I did not know it would affect me in such a way, it was a very pleasant surprise. There is power in kindness and in doing something positive for another person. Hopefully, at the very least it causes both the giver and the receiver to smile and have a little bit more of a pleasant day than maybe they would have otherwise. In other circumstances being kind to another can have life changing results.
When was the last time you were intentionally kind to someone, just for the sake of being kind?