Trauma, what does it mean to you? I’ve come to realize just how differently people experience it. Has anything ever happened in your life that you’d classify as traumatic? Is it warranted, or just over used? I can over hear teenagers talking about how traumatic is was having to be seen with a parent at the wrong moment, or my daughter traumatized by having to share with her brother. I had a small handful of experiences in my life that I feel fit into that header. lately I have been thinking about how those experiences have shaped my decisions, my outlook on life, and my personality.
I’m sure some psychology student would disagree with me, but the first really traumatizing thing that happened to me was during a summer I spent far, far away from home. I was working door to door in a different state, and city I’d never seen. I was totally reliant on my commission to live, and commission was very hard to come by. My only means of transportation was my old bike I picked up at a garage sale as I passed, and a person who dropped me off before seven in the morning, and often didn’t pick me up from a street corner till nearly ten o’clock. As fortune would have it, is was both one of the hottest and wettest summers on record. The neighborhood, it is safe to say was unwelcoming to any solicitor, many actually had brass plaques on their door. It was a beautiful older place. Many houses had expansive front porches. However, even in the worst thunderstorm, no one would allow me a safe place to wait out a storm. There were no local businesses I could get to for safe keeping. I often went miles out of my way to the only picnic shelter I knew of just to have a moment out of side ways rain and cover from hail. I was hungrier than I had ever experienced before. I was often with out water, and one sandwich and a pack of fruit snacks was usually my only food for the entire day. Being out on my own as a door to door sales person did teach me a little about sales, but mostly it taught me about hunger, cold, rejection, and salvation.
There was one afternoon in particular that I had been out most of the day in the rain. I was tired, hungry, and most of all hypothermic. Most doors didnt’ open that afternoon. I went to my picnic shelter retreat to eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and somewhere along the line, I blacked out. I had no idea what happened when I came too, but only an hour had passed. All of my things were still with me, and it didn’t seem anyone had been by. I was absolutely terrified, and reached a point of cold that I had stopped shivering. I walk my bike, with my thirty pound sales bag over my shoulder to one of the nearest homes I could reach. With tears in my eyes, I knocked at the door, and an angel of mercy opened up. She was the mother of teenagers, and I must have been a pretty shocking sight there on her door step. All I asked for was help, I didn’t even know what help I needed. She tossed me in her car and drove me back to the apartment that I shared with other sellers. I didn’t have a key, but was able to get in with help from the sales office. I took a shower, got warm, ate a decent meal, and called my manager.
As it turned out, I was in trouble for going home early. I am a person who doesn’t want to give up, so I called the local transit number, found out how to take a bus across the major highway and back into the next city and into the neighborhood where I was supposed to be working. I finished my day and was picked up after dark as usual. I don’t think I sold a single thing that day, but I learned that when I think I can’t go on any longer, ask for help, and stick to it. I can say that I have been hungrier, more tired, and more cold than just about anyone I know. That isn’t really something to brag about, but it has helped me to learn my limits are much larger than I ever dreamed.
I purposely have left out the name of the city, and the name of the company, and well, what I was selling. I’m not here to complain. You can bet that every person who knock on my door is greeted with a smile, and asked two questions, ” Do you need any water, and do you need a bathroom?” These were the two hardest things to come by. However, I am trying to remember that lesson as we struggle this month to pay any bills and feed our kids. I’ve been out of work for a month. It’s not the way I envisioned starting school. Few things ever turn out the way I plan. However, I have faith that we will be fine, something good will come of this, and life will go on. Perhaps traumatic or extraordinary experiences make us stronger, or maybe they just open our eyes to excepting a little charity and giving back every chance we get.