There is Before and there is After

beforeafterboxHave you ever experienced an event so traumatic that inevitably forevermore all things will be mentally placed in two boxes labeled Before and After?

Like how people always remember where they were on September 11, 2001, or where they were when Kennedy was shot, or when the first man walked on the moon. Or when your mom died, things like that…you know where you were, how old you were, even what you were wearing or what you were doing. These moments are indelibly stamped in your heart and brain as well as the accompanying emotions.

I have my own personal tragic date of profound sorrow that will forever mark my future. There was happiness BEFORE: sadness and confusion AFTER.

My life is split in two now. What was will never be again as I dwell in a mostly perpetual state of grief, of dysphoria, of purgatory, of anhedonia.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of brightness, moments that bring a smile to my face and lift my heart a little, but then I see a certain date or I remember a certain event and I mentally place it in its appropriate container: BEFORE or AFTER. I say to myself, oh yeah, that was before. Now we dwell in the after box.

If I see a story or read an article about, for example, Yellowstone, that memory goes in the  before box. Ironing perfumed sheets for a homecoming or walking to the beach, Sunday morning buckwheat pancakes–or any one of the thousands of sweet daily memories since 1991–all BEFORE. Don’t get me started going down THAT road. There are actually about half a dozen dates that signify different aspects of after-and those recollections are even more painful to tidy up and allocate to their designated container.


For me, it signals panic attack time. I never experienced a panic attack BEFORE–now I know the triggers and force myself to use the tools I went to therapy to learn so I don’t once again spiral into a paralyzing dissociation with reality.

There is so much that is before. Why wasn’t I able to foretell the future? If I had only known. But I didn’t know, I couldn’t have known,  and the abject shock of it all still colors my waking hours–and my sleep.

ravenIn my case, every single day I mourn the death of someone who’s still very much alive.

Unless you’ve walked this same journey, you might not  understand how I can grieve for someone who still breathes and eats and sleeps. Although they aren’t clinically deceased, they are gone, and it feels like a true death in every sense of the word.

And now for me, I will forevermore be tormented by BEFORE and AFTER.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'One of the hardest things you will ever have to do my dear is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive. unknown'


9 thoughts on “There is Before and there is After

  1. I’m so sorry for your pain. I’ve definitely had moments in life that altered it into before and after, but none with your same scenario. I hope you can find someone to help your pain move through. Healing modalities like The Reconnection And Matrix Energetics can be very powerful there.


      • I’ll just say that I went to a Matrix Energetics seminar back in 2012, ten months after my dad died and there was an elderly man at the seminar who reminded me of my Dad. Every time I saw him, I just started crying. I was truly daddy’s little girl. At some point in the seminar, something within me shifted and it felt like my grief just dissolved. Gone. I believe both their websites list practitioners by state.


      • I’m sorry to hear about your dad, I still miss my mom decades after she died. I’ve had Reiki healing. I see a lot of this matrix healing is in the Seattle area-maybe I’ll be able to check it out next time I’m up there. It really is as if I’m living between two worlds sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • When it comes to healing, many modalities are equally effective over distance (phone, Skype) as they are in person. Just check out websites, watch videos and see what you’re drawn to. See what captures your fancy, sparks your curiosity. Follow your gut. I hear you when it comes to living between two worlds. Oy!


  2. Endings and new beginnings are often marked by the before/after definition. What you leave in the past and what you do with the future are your choices. You can learn from the past so that your future is brighter. I’m sorry this happened to you. I understand as I have had this as well. The hardest time I think is when we straddle that present line of before/after and don’t take the leap into the future. You have to process all the emotions and then allow life to unfold and keep the faith that there’s a reason for you to walk towards the future. Sending hugs. ♥


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