Flurries of emotions push me, pound me, knock me off centre in the week before my book launch. Bruce passed away only a week before, and grief is still raw and powerful. I function, while trying to understand and accept that he is really gone. I go through periods of rage which I try to channel into productive action. I go through sadness which sucks my energy so low I can barely breathe. Much of the time I am apathetic - how can I care about anything at all when my brother is so unexpectedly, so suddenly gone?
I get through because I have developed strong, loving relationships with strong, loving people. My husband, shattered himself from losing his "brother," is a rock for me. My dear friends stay connected in the ways they can, and show their kindness with their words, their actions, their thoughtful gifts and most of all, their empathy.
And then my sisters, united, flying in from Alberta to be with me. To grieve with me. To support me to proceed with the launch. We balance our time together in the two days before the launch between the need for us to speak of and honour our brother and preparing for the event. After an impromptu and perfect ceremony for Bruce at the lake, our attention shifts to necessary tasks. Theresa has experience and Jo has willing hands. As a team, we can do this. I am ready.
Genuine delight fills me as guests begin to arrive - friends and acquaintances who drove, ferried and flew from near and far. So many surprises, and I am humbled by the support. I swirl around, meeting and greeting people I know and love, and new people I am grateful to meet.
The cafe fills, and I realize it is standing room only. A full house. Time for speeches. I almost cry when Theresa chokes up during her introduction. Fortunately, my work as a facilitator for mental health groups enables me to take the stage, deliver my speech, read a chapter and answer questions. I am surprised to notice that I am even enjoying myself!
The launch is a resounding success. We sell out of books and have to direct others to order copies from Amazon. Guests are happy, and I am happy. I feel light as air, and later that night I am singing and dancing when the family gathers for the after-party. This book gig is pretty cool.
I don't realize until I awaken, long before dawn, how energetically dysregulated I have been. The long, emotional days before the launch, the adrenaline rush during, and the exhaustion after have my mind and body buzzing and burnt out. My dialectic behavioural therapist mind reflects on the use of DBT skills that I used, coached by my skillful co-worker and phenomenal friend Micke: she reminded me to "cope ahead" when I anticipated I would struggle with anxiety. I reflect that I was able to be mindful, fully present and fully participating, which increased my ability to be effective. I had "built mastery" by learning public speaking and practicing my speech. And I know for the next event, I will focus more on "PLEASE" skills - taking care of my physical needs to reduce vulnerability to emotions.
And through it all I used gratitude. Quite simply, I used love. So I will end this blog with a heart-filled and heart-felt thank you to all the wonderful people who attended my launch and were integral to its success. Thank you to the many people sending me messages and connecting with my words. May the book serve its intention, to promote awareness of complex trauma and trauma informed practice, reduce stigma, and increase hope, compassion and love.