Tragedy is relative. It can range from losing a child to being a prisoner of war. You may perceive a divorce or an affair as a tragedy. Perhaps your tragedy is monetary, being completely helpless and without. No tragedy is easy to overcome.
Without looking to any professional resources for assistance, and at the risk of being completely inaccurate, I would define tragedy as a circumstance in which one loses complete control and sense of comfort. It is a place in time when a person is violently stripped of something they once held dear. It is a time of shock, apprehension and disbelief. It shakes you to your core and makes you second guess all that you thought you stood for and believed.
A tragedy may even be getting drunk for the first time after five years of sobriety. It is tragic because this person has been stripped of their most upheld accomplishment in their lifetime; robbed by their worst enemy. At this moment in time, decisions have to be made and a vast array of self-offending emotions need to be sorted out, organized, and dealt with.
The emotional experience of a tragedy reminds me of when I decide I’m going to clean out my closet. It seems like an awesome idea at 10am on a Saturday. Yet, when 1pm hits, and I’m completely over it, I want to stop. I want to go back to 10am and not even begin this process. But, I can’t. The reason I can’t is because every piece of clothing, every printed 4×6 picture and every holiday decoration I own is now laid out on my bed, which of course, is the one place I want to rest.
In this moment, I have two choices.
First, I can either decide to complete the tedious task and slowly work through all of by belongings to ensure they are put back properly. This is the best option, but please don’t get me wrong. Even if I decided to go this route, there may be a small pile of what-nots that I pile up in the corner because I have no idea what to do with them. This is never a seamless or perfect process.
Secondly, I could throw everything back in the closet completely unorganized and have trouble accessing everything for the months to come. My last choice is one that I believe most people choose when it comes to tragedy.
The last option is to leave everything on the bed and start sleeping on the couch. After all, if I can’t see it, it’s as if it is not there.
One of the most beautiful parts of tragedy is its ability to set us on a figurative mountain top. Here, one can look down at their entire life. Every ledge they had to straddle over can be seen and remembered. The rivers that you were supposed to swim through, but instead walked along for miles, glisten down below as only a miniature model or a glimmer of what was once seen. During tragedy, our past becomes emphasized in such a way that it sometimes can not be ignored. That is, unless, we put effort into ignoring it.
My mountain top experience seemed much like a musical crescendo. My soundtrack was emotion inflicting, and entrapping. Then, rhythm escalated, volume increased, and cymbals crashing until silence swept the orchestra. I was pregnant, newly married due to the pregnancy, and my abusive husband was living a lifestyle of a single swinger, who had no concern or respect for the law regarding legal and illegal sexual or domestic acts. In this moment, with my family not understanding what I was going through, my friends being removed from my life due to the violence, and my faith having been “uninstalled” by choice for the last 10 years, I was in my time of tragedy.
There I was at the mountain top. I guarantee you that if I weren’t pregnant, I would have killed myself. So, rather than throwing myself from the most rigid peak, I had to survey the land and choose to camp there, walk back to where I came from or walk down the other side- uncharted territory. As I looked back from whence I came, I saw a lot. But then again, during that past era, I drank a lot, too.