I recently had an experience that triggered some PTSD.
Overly paranoid, on edge, unable to sleep, reliving past traumas and thinking of the worst case scenarios for every move I made. My anxiety sky rocketed. I only wanted to be alone but was terrified to be alone. I didn't know who around me to trust. I felt like I was living in someone's body who is everything I am not. I am care free, loving, trusting to all, curious, independant, calm and happy. "Not anymore," I thought to myself.
I struggled with thinking I would be stuck with this irational behavior forever and never return to my own self. I was angry. I missed a few days of work and I couldn't focus when I did make it in. I needed time, but I didn't have it. Fun Friday was approaching and everyone needed me. The organization needed me, the volunteers needed me and most importantly so did the kids.
Thanks to the help of a few amazing people in my life I gained the strength to show up. We did pretty well with the lesson- the kids and volunteers had a good time, but I think everyone was aware that the energy was lower than it usually is. It did make me remember why I am here though and why I want to stay. Those kids are something special.
Afterwards I had to go find a costume for our Kids Day Celebration event that next morning. I grabbed a few and was dreading the thought of going. I normally love parties, but I wasn't ready to be myself at one yet or to be in a big crowd.
As I was looking through the options I had grabbed- a big, blue, familiar face made me stop and realize something. There was actually nothing I needed more than this event tomorrow.
Although attention drawing, I realized in that moment that if I chose a costume with a mask I not only could hide behind it for my own protection that I still needed, but I could use it as a form of therapy. It occured to me that once I put on a fully masked costume I wouldn't be me anymore. I would be the Genie, and the Genie didn't have my problems. I realized it would give me the chance to forget all my own problems for a few hours and get out of that person's body that felt so foreign to mine. I realized I had the chance to step into one that could make every kid at the whole event smile. I rented it.
Saturday morning I pep-talked myself into actually going through with it, walked in, no one recognized me at first and it was perfect. I took off running and ran around the rest of the event with my magic lamp aka tea kettle asking every kid what their 3 wishes were, granting as many as I could from our donated toys box, letting them squeeze my big, cotton muscles, giving them high fives, hugs, playing games, bouncing them in the bouncy house and teaching them genie like dance moves while they tried to peek under my mask.
Although I didn't accomplish my goal of making every kid at the event smile since some little ones were scared of me- I was pretty dang close, and it was the best day I've had in a long time. Definitely an experience and lesson that I'll never forget. A quote I've heard all my life gained a new meaning that day - "Forget yourself and go to work!" I know that in return for putting others first your own burdens will be lightened. 😊
After the event a colleague walked up to me and said, "You're back." ❤️
I'm so grateful for kids and that Mexico holds a special day to honor these amazing little souls. They are the best therapy, examples and teachers that we are so fortunate to have.
Happy Dia del Niño everyone! Hug your little ones a little tighter today. :)
Definitely a tradition I'm going to keep in my life forever! 💞