A TAR Tale by Paul Michael Marinello

Paul Michael Marinello

I was awoken by my alarm promptly at 5:00 a.m. this morning, the same time it is set for on all seven days. I have always preferred mornings, in darkness, prior to the sunlight’s blissful rise to capture the essence of my day. These morning hours bring clarity, sanctuary, and allow me to prepare for whatever the day has planned for me. For most of the past few weeks, the plan was working.

I feel truant when I sleep past the alarm and so I have several snooze options available at my disposal – and use one almost every day while the coffee is perking.

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I am feeling a bit defeated by the day. Despite trauma by way of parental alienation, most of my recent mornings were pasted with a candy-colored aura reminiscent of gratitude toward all things. I have begun a job I really enjoy after mostly COVID-related downtime and in between a few nannying positions.

And while the days over the past three weeks or so have been good for my résumé and wallet, my mental health continues to teeter somewhere between thinking I am totally fine and thinking I am a total wreck. This is Trauma 101.

I was recently reading a report from the National Library of Medicine which starts with this introduction: Existing research suggests that trauma survivors who experience psychological distress may deliberately inhibit the behavioral expression of emotion (Hassija et al., 2013; Litz, Orsillo, Kaloupek, & Weathers, 2000; Marx & Sloan, 2002Roemer, Litz, Orsillo, & Wagner, 2001)

This struck an immediate chord with me. By better understanding the behavior of trauma sufferers, we can better our state of mind and find a level of expectation that works for us. What emotions are we living by and which are we quelling? Is my own personal positivity a shield – an indirect flight or fight moment that leads to continual fleeing?

Since parental alienation entered my life about six months ago, I have been searching for a balance to which I may not be entitled. A balance which offers flexibility to allow me to feel the traumas and the guilt I possess while living a purposeful, service-filled life. I have found some common ground: attending and leading parental alienation meetings has been pivotal to my recovery. Expressing and sharing my thoughts in writing and conversations is equally of value and allows others to learn about similar situations.

Today Was Different

I must have slept poorly as I had almost zero game plan for this day. It’s not that I didn’t have my work tasks and my personal tasks mapped out, but my fortitude to rule the day was in place; however, the mental stability to see it through is at best questionable.

Trauma causes indifference, stagnation, and second-guessing in everyday decision-making.

Shortly after being alienated from my only daughter, I felt astoundingly deep grief in which I wallowed for several weeks. After I dusted myself off and decided to make the best life I could – despite unforeseen circumstances – I found relative security in my day-to-day life that I could cope with such trauma.

At my request, I asked for a full mental health evaluation. I also started weekly therapy to deal with the grief and outpouring of emotional loss that is attributed to parental alienation.

What To Do With This Wasted Day

I realize that this day is not wasted, despite feeling that way. I know that every single day that is lived is a gift. What do trauma sufferers do with a day that’s about to get away from them?

Take a break. Breathe. As a trauma sufferer – you are much more likely to want to wade in your negative emotions than break free of them. It’s not your fault – we are scarred to feel this way. Yet it is at this moment we must make a profound call to action – SEIZE THIS DAY.

It’s 3:15 p.m. and I cannot work anymore today, I did the very best that I could accomplish given the circumstances. As much as I am happy with the role I am in, dedication to my mental health supersedes it. I need to find a quiet place where my mind can slow down – a movie, loud music, handball, or perhaps bump into a few friends. The latter two – basically any activity that introduces outsiders – rate a big “no” when feeling like this. I don’t even want to pick up the phone on days like this. I am trying to remind myself that there are no wasted days. Trauma sufferers are damaged, but not broken.

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