Portrayals of Trauma

One of my Summer List items is checked off -- I finally finished The Handmaid's Tale Season 4. I simply could not do it during the school year, because I feel like season after season is watching June and others suffer, and it was too heavy for me with everything else going on. But everyone kept telling me how good it was, and I kept narrowly missing spoilers, so I finished it within the first couple of days of summer. 






*** Just checking, making sure I don't accidentally spoil you




Okay. I think I'm safe. Or you're safe. 

SO. I absolutely loved this season. It was SO DAMN SATISFYING. 

I also loved how they portrayed trauma. If you're down here, then you know that June makes it to Canada. She's free! 

But...is she?

The episodes after Moira finds her in the rubble of Chicago (I cried at that reunion, I wouldn't be able to leave my best friend behind either) show how heavy the impact of June's time in Gilead is. Of her failed crusade to free Hannah and reunite her family. Of the guilt she feels for leaving Janine, for leaving Hannah, for leaving, period, when she's such a powerhouse of resistance against Gilead. 

So when she gets to Canada, everyone is very gentle with her, giving her space and understanding that she has been through some heavy shit. 

At first. 

She gets to have her impact statement against Fred and Serena Joy Waterford, she joins a support group, she is reunited with people she knew pre-Gilead and people she knew from Gilead. 

But when things go south and the government decides not to charge the Waterfords and to let the Supreme Rapist go in the name of intelligence for the war, June loses her shit. Because SHE KNOWS that these people are master manipulators, and although she's told her story, none of it matters. She is in a sort of Gilead-Lite where the influence of a powerful man is more valuable than justice for women (hmmmmm). And she lets that rage just erupt. She plots. She allows others to feel the rage they've been trying to tamp down in the name of "Moving On." 

Her best friend, Moira, is trying to put Gilead behind her and not be poisoned by the rage and hatred, but she's been in Canada for far longer. She's had time and space from the rawness of it, from the fight-or-flight existence. Luke, June's husband, is also like, "now you've said your piece, let's leave this behind, let's focus on getting Hannah out." There's this push-pull between "let it go and move on" and "I WILL DESTROY YOU IF YOU DENY ME VENGEANCE FOR I AM FURY INCARNATE AND I AM NOT READY TO LET THIS GO." 

Super Spoiler: She doesn't let it go. She gets sweet, sweet vengeance, employing all the connections and strategies and pent up trauma to give Fred just what he deserves, at the hands of those he hurt. It was glorious. Disturbing, but frankly the information he was giving was half-assed and he was going to get away with so much for so little in return. I love that they Aunt Lydia'd him in a Salvaging of their own and then put him on a makeshift Wall.


This reminded me so much, in obviously less violent ways, of how infertility related trauma is dealt with. There is so much pressure to be positive, to cling to tiny shreds of hope even as it destroys you. I feel like my friends were like Moira, basically telling me that I needed to let go because it was destroying me (Moira tells June that she will be hunted down and killed if she stays, and that it won't help Hannah), and I clung to the idea that I could still salvage having children until it nearly broke me. 

In Canada, June is faced with a sort of forced timeline of "when are you going to move on and appreciate what you do have?" 

That rang true, as well. Society pressures people to move on, to get on with your life, and says "Why are you still dwelling on this? When are you going to get over this?" when it comes to grief. And grief from infertility and the loss of the life that you thought you'd have is tricky, because it's not always seen as a true loss. IT IS. Everyone needs to deal with their grief and make peace with it (because it never goes away completely) in their own way -- no one way is going to work for everyone. Moira meant well, but the way she dealt with the trauma of Gilead worked for her, sort of, and it sure as shit wasn't going to work for June. June subscribed less to a therapy-and-meditate-it-out kind of dealing and more to a I'M GOING TO BURN THE MOTHERFUCKING WORLD DOWN IF I MUST TO GET JUSTICE AND VENGEANCE philosophy. But people do that, don't they? They take what works for them and they say, "here, this is what you need to do to be normal again." 

It doesn't work that way. Everyone has to find their own path, and some paths are just messier than others. Throwing yourself into humanitarian and healing work is one way (Moira). Having an anxiety attack in a grocery store and embracing rage is another (June). It's complicated. 

For me, I beat myself up and pushed through the misery in hopes that things would work out, and they never did and then all that pressure resulted in a breakdown of my physical body and my mental state. Then I felt like, "oh. I need to stop." But then the raw grief continued. And there was guilt, because maybe I let go too soon, maybe I didn't exhaust every avenue... but that was a lie. It wasn't worth it to sacrifice who I was for a possibility that was so damn elusive. I am grateful that my body said ENOUGH, as painful as it was. I wish I didn't have to get to a crisis to make that determination to resolve, but maybe it would have been easier if there wasn't such pressure to succeed at all costs or be seen as "the one who gave up on her dream." 

I am happy, and I love my life. But I also have that pesky trauma that pops up from time to time. The grief that can hit me when I see something that reminds me of the alternate life I lost. Memories of hard moments, of physical losses and painful ghostly losses represented by divots in carpet left by a crib that was donated, showing up in photo memories. 

I don't want to let go of those things, because they help me see how far I've come. I don't want to ever delete those photos. It's not that I could forget, but having a visceral reminder of how awful that was and how wonderful things are now in a house that never saw a needle or a home study is not a bad thing.


I appreciate the nuances of how each character dealt with their trauma in The Handmaid's Tale. I love that there's so much still to come, but that June did things her way...for better or worse. I am so glad that there are these portrayals of strong, complicated, devastated, vengeful women dealing with their losses in a multitude of ways.

True First Day of Summer

Today, the first Monday where I do not need to go to school or plan anything, is the true first day of summer. For me, anyway. 

I have decided that June is about Reconstituting. So, with that on mind, my day looked like this:

Get out of bed at 7:40 (woke up at 6:40 but refused to accept that reality), eat my Cheerios and blueberries, then take my coffee outside to the deck while the shade existed (it was wicked hot today). Read a book.

Go inside when it gets too hot, finish my book. 

Watch 4 episodes of Handmaid's Tale (2 more left!). 
Eat some leftover Indian food for lunch, get on the bike for some spinning, go to Pilates. 

This is a perfect early summer day -- everything I did was relaxing or enjoyable or something I've wanted to do but couldn't because school was so crazy. 

It's in the rearview mirror... Everything ahead is planned to rest, rejuvenate, and feed my soul. 

Happy freaking summer! 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

End With a Bang

I made it! The last day of school with students was yesterday, and now it's meetings and organizing and cleaning and paperwork Andy then BAM! Summer. 

It was literally BAM! summer yesterday... It was almost 90 degrees and about a thousand percent humidity. It was disgustingly sweaty (no air-conditioning). My tie-dye t-shirt stained my armpit blue (oddly, just one of them). Two of the split air conditioning units in the library behind, turning the main entrance into a waterfall and soaking the carpet (but luckily no books). The kids had a fun last day of movies and crafts and food, and then we waved them off outside as the skies darkened ominously behind us. 

A thunderstorm rolled in that was so violent it was bananas... There were sheets of water (can't even call it rain) and the wind was incredible-- it was like a brief hurricane.  

What it was was a microburst. It took out so many trees and power lines,  blocking roads and crushing houses and cars in driveways. 

But we had the 8th Grade Luau, the final send-off for a class that had most of their middle school experience interrupted, so many things cancelled, so this was not going to be cancelled too. Despite sirens everywhere and no power to the school, we still cheered on the students as they arrived and pointed them to the gym where the PTSA had set up games and food and then they could pelt the principal with water balloons on the way out. It was surreal, but also an appropriate end to a bonkers pandemic year. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Define "Okay"

First off, thank you for the love last week... Things are better, but still not great. It's not quite so oppressive this week. It meant so much to have virtual hugs galore.

Mostly because I am not okay, but I am pretending to be okay in an effort to "fake it 'till I make it" and survive until summer break. 

I am not doing a whole lot on social media (which for me is Facebook, I suck at Twitter and don't want Instagram), just changing my cover photo to plants in my garden (that haven't been ravaged by vengeful deer and groundhogs) and posting shared stuff, mostly. You could look at my Facebook and be like, "she's quiet, but good!" 

Someone recently posted about a friend who is ghosting them, and said that it was definitive that it was ghosting because this person was posting and "busy" on Facebook. I think Facebook is a terrible barometer for how people actually feel. I think you can hide how you feel and shit you're going through and no one is the wiser. So that bothered me (I'm not the ghoster, but when I am in this hyper anxious state I'm terrible at communication and could be perceived as such).

It reminds me of the days in the throes of infertility and adoption, where I wanted to look okay from the outside but my insides didn't match at all. Which was exhausting, and lonely.

I feel a bit rambly, but mostly I wanted to thank you -- thank you for being my place where I can be decidedly not okay. Where I don't have to (it feel like I have to) hide the mess that is my brain right now. It's very much appreciated. 

A bright spot -- my Royal Wedding poppies are finally blooming! And deer/groundhogs/rabbits seem to hate 'em! 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Stalled Out on the Struggle Bus

I am having what can only be described as a tough time. I wish I could say why.

We had a long weekend -- four whole days of rest and relaxation -- and I found myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, with a disturbing touch of Failure to Launch. I had a hard time getting motivated. 

I did get a lot of gardening done, which was good. No mulch spreading yet, because it rained so much. But, when I wasn't out in the garden, working, I was... stuck. 


I hate this feeling. 

It's been a few weeks since I readjusted my medication with my doctor from when I messed with it. My anxiety seemed to be getting better -- way less flutters, less overwhelmed feeling. But starting this weekend I am seeing more depression symptoms, and I hate it. I think I screwed up my body's reaction to this medication. 

I feel just so awful. And today the anxiety made a comeback, so there's a party of dreadfulness in my brain today. I left school and say in my car for 10 minutes, trying not to cry and failing, until I could get myself to a point where I could actually put the car in gear and leave. I cried the whole way home. In a way, I'm glad I could cry. Sometimes I struggle to do that.

It feels just stupid -- I have a great life, I'm happy, I have a wonderful husband and job and it's almost summer. I can sit on the deck and read and relax to birdsong. 

But I also know it's not that simple. My brain chemistry doesn't care about the woods in my backyard, or the reading in the sunshine, or the plantings. It doesn't care about the scrumptious smoked pulled pork that Bryce made, or the spate of downtime. 

It's so frustrating. I did call my doctor and I have an appointment. There has to be a way to fix this.

Sorry to be a downer, but I am doooooowwwwnnnnn. I will leave you with pictures of plants and our camp area, which still help me feel less awful.

Trail to the fire pit by the pond, Bryce cooked chicken thighs on the open flame

Pretty trail with solar lantern.

Herb planter! The sad rosemary front right is from lady year, and the Bibb lettuce in the ramekin is Bryce's odd project. Basil, dill, silver thyme, cilantro, tarragon, and rosemary.

I had to move my trellis planter to the deck from down below, the heliotrope is fine but apparently heirloom climbing and Rainmaster petunias are deer delicious. They've been "pruned."

Lantana, angelonia, and white black eyed Susan Vine

Love this tall planter. It has a water reservoir. Also, oriole feeder! 

I will feel better. It just sucks right now.