Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feeling Guilty for Loving It

Life has never felt more purposeful. Yes, it was very purposeful when I was raising four kids entirely by myself, with either actual hindrance or no help at all from the two fathers. But raising children was/is a responsibility, an obligation with little choice. Great reward, though! Reward that I don’t believe a non-parent could fathom. And a reason for living second to none… I know, because in the early ‘90s, I thought a lot about dying.

Today though, nowadays, I’m busier for me, and the reward is from my effort and my love and my dedication… and overcoming and conquering my fear more and more each day. The guilt, mentioned in the title, is from wondering if it’s wrong of me to so enjoy what I’m doing now and know that I wouldn’t be doing it if Dustin hadn’t been killed.

This morning, I attended my first ever town hall meeting. I let myself feel intimidated and thus didn’t speak, but I realized afterward I have enough confidence to speak next time – now that I know what to expect – and I learned I want a next time. It was very interesting, and exciting to hear people speak up, even when I didn’t agree with them. There are a lot of ideas about a lot of things out there that I’d never come close to thinking before. I bet I have some ideas some people have never thought of before, even me!

This afternoon, I presented our story at today’s High Risk Driver Class, put on by Trauma Nurses Talk Tough. With the help of a slide show, I share who Dustin was and what he meant to me and others;
11/11/11: Would have been 29th birthday, ghostbike
I describe the crash, the investigation and sentencing; I illustrate the life-altering mental and emotional changes I’ve gone through – indescribable pain, horrifying thoughts, bizarre side effects -; I detail the number of fatal crashes in the U.S. per year, that nearly as many people are killed every day as are sitting in that auditorium listening to me: someone every 15-16 minutes; and I end with suggestions on how to help “it” not to happen to them and how to not be responsible for “it” happening to someone else. Because, I say, “You don’t want this to be the last picture you take of your child, or any loved one, and know that it was 100% preventable,” and I display a picture of a dead Dustin in his coffin. 

These audiences vary every time. Some are very stoic or appear indifferent, some are angry, some bored. The seats are very close together and uncomfortable and the auditorium tends to get hot; there are few breaks and everyone is instructed that they can’t leave while there is a guest speaker. I usually go in while the speaker before me is presenting so I can get an idea of what that particular day's mood is.

Today, the audience appeared attentive and responsive. And, to toot my own horn, I think it was my best presentation to date. I was confident, articulate, on target, and didn’t forget anything I wanted to say. The fact that there was a young woman in the audience who didn’t stop crying the whole time convinced me I was making an impact. Actually, I’ve requested to be the last speaker at each class because my goal is to “leave them crying.”That feels good to me, like I'm making a difference. Like our story matters. Like I matter. 

But sometimes I feel guilty. For loving what I’m doing now. Because I wouldn’t be doing any of it if Dustin wasn’t dead. 

A link to some great reviews of one of the Trauma Nurses Talk Tough classes, before I had reason to be there

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