Do you have a city that holds an emotional place in your heart? They may be positive emotions:
- where you got married!
- where your first child was born!
- where you ran your first marathon!
Or they may be negative:
- where you got your first speeding ticket
- where you broke your leg
- where your parent died
Sometimes, you have a city that just triggers you. There is a memory or a time that was spent in that place that was either so positive or so negative that you constantly place that emotion on that particular city.
Every time I think of Paris I remember waking my 3 year old up at 11 pm to watch the pretty lights sparkle on the Eiffel Tower. It is no surprise she dreams of living in Paris to this day.
I should have expected the trigger when I landed in DC after a red eye flight. But, in my sleepless haze, I found my way to the Metro and figured out which direction I needed to go to reach my destination. I stood on the platform and enjoyed the sunshine. When the Metro arrived and I sat down, all the memories came flooding back.
Lorelei and I were medevac’d from Germany to Walter Reed Medical Center 12 years ago. Since Lorelei was not a big fan of sleeping we arrived in DC pretty groggy. I remember searching for the shuttle I had arranged to take us to the base while carrying enough suitcases to last us who knew how long. We had a return ticket for 2 weeks later but there was no guarantee we would be going home then.
The shuttle was only able to drop us off at the gate for the base. This was post 9-11 and there were civilians on the shuttle. I had to carry my baby and all our stuff up the ¼ mile long driveway to the hospital. But it was okay. I was finding answers for my baby. We would be fine.
You see, Lorelei was very sick as a baby. She cried constantly whenever she wasn’t being held. She didn’t eat very well because she couldn’t poop. Lorelei had become a ‘failure to thrive baby’. They had sent us to a specialist in Germany who ran all the big, scary tests. No, she didn’t have any life threatening disease. Yes, she did have muscles to push things out from that end. No, we don’t know what’s wrong with her.
Lorelei was so sick that they had pulled Matt out of Iraq to come home and care for Ainsley so Lorelei and I could go to DC. Okay, let’s be honest, first they told me to leave my 3 years old with friends in Germany while my husband was in Iraq and I took Lorelei to the US. When I explained (read: yelled) about how I wouldn’t do that, they brought Matt home from Iraq.
I finally found the place in the hospital where we were supposed to check in and get our lodging assignment for our time in DC. When I explained that Lorelei was the patient and not my husband the lady at the office said those fate filled words “Then I cannot help you”. This was during the height of the war and this office was focused on helping families of soldiers who had been injured in Iraq and medevac’d to Walter Reed. My baby didn’t count.
I was alone in DC with a very sick baby and no clue where I would sleep that night. No clue what answers we would find in this place. No clue what the next step was. As I got back on the elevator to go back downstairs my luggage literally exploded all over the place and I started bawling while trying to grab all my luggage and pull it into the elevator.
Luckily an intern walked by and took pity on the crazy woman crying with a baby strapped to her chest and luggage that was all over the place. He finally got the story out of me and figured out what needed to be done. He marched me downstairs and had the information desk get me a hotel room for the night with a shuttle to come pick me up. I continue to offer up thanks to that intern. I was, and am, so grateful for his help.
As it turned out the trip was non-productive. They ran the same tests they had already run in Germany which led to the same diagnosis that we had received in Germany. Which was “we have no idea why your kid can’t poop but she needs to be on medication for the rest of her life”. It would be 5 years before we found the naturopath and nutritionist who would finally give us the diagnosis of celiac disease. This would allow all the pieces of the puzzle to come together and allow for the healthy teenager we now have.
Therefore, I should not have been surprised when 12 years later the Metro brings about all those fears, anxieties, and tears. But I was surprised. I had difficulty breathing. I became nearly paralyzed with fear. And I had to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other.
I started with gratitude for how much our lives have changed in 12 years. That fussy, failure to thrive baby has turned into a beautiful dancer/8th grade President/super fun teenager. And I was in the DC area for a conference to help me with business development. Because I own my own business. Which is so very awesome.
I was honest with myself and the people around me about what was going on. I texted Matt to get some support and I also told my group what was going on. I acknowledged that these were old memories surfacing which decreased their power.
I moved forward with what I was in DC to do in the first place. I did let the memories have their time while I went for a walk before the conference started. But, once the conference started, I let go of those memories and focused on what I was there to do.
Grateful, honest, and moving forward.
Maybe you find yourself in a place filled with fear, anxiety, pain, or overwhelm. I encourage you to remain grateful for all the good you have in your life. Be honest about where you are with people you can trust to vault that information. And then figure out how to move forward. You are not meant to live in this place.