Years ago, I was married to an Italian winemaker. It was an was exotic, exciting and painful marriage.
We often traveled to different cities in Southern California to dine at some of the winery’s accounts. On this particular night, we were dining at a small restaurant in Old Town San Diego.
The owner was an eclectic man. In his professional life, he was a bullfighter. He opened a restaurant to fund his bullfighting career.
As usual, we had a spectacular meal paired with the finest wine. The owner of the restaurant came out to our table and chatted with my husband and me about the meal, the wine, and bullfighting. He seemed more inclined to speak about his bullfighting career than the food and the wine.
During our conversation, he invited us to watch the bullfights in Tijuana (just over the border from San Diego) the next day.
Being a long time Hemingway fan and adventure seeker, I agreed. “What time should we get there?” I inquired.
“When the shadow of death enters the arena, ” he answered in a deep and somber voice.
Not really sure if we should question him, or just agree, my husband and I nodded our heads, left the restaurant, and returned to the hotel.
The following day we were intrigued with the idea of crossing the border and seeing the bullfight. Since we were not exactly sure when the “shadow of death entered the arena,” we left San Diego around noon.
We found the historic and dilapidated bullfighting arena perched along the shoreline in Tijuana. It was a beautiful, warm August afternoon. We made our way to our seats then suddenly realized what the owner of the restaurant had been alluding too. One-half of the arena was bathed in the white, hot sun of Mexico. The other half was sitting comfortably in the shade.
As we sat there curiously watching the crowd and waiting for the bullfight to begin, the “shadow of death” slowly entered the arena. When the sun began to set the “shadow of death” began to creep across the side of the arena once exposed to the brutal, direct rays of sunlight. Sure enough, once the arena was completely covered in shade, the Matadors appeared.
I’ll spare you the details of the bullfights. I am an avid pet rescuer and have worked with many animal advocate associations. I was much younger than and did not completely understand the brutality of this sport.
But that is not the point of this post. The point is…we all have moments in time when “the shadow of death” enters our arena. As trauma survivors, we are often drawn to situations that appear familiar and comfortable to us only to realize that we have walked into another trauma situation or a trigger.
And this is where I am today. I resigned from my part-time job last week to focus my efforts on this blog and my own business. I have been gleefully welcoming every day to grow my following and help lend a hand in the global effort to help survivors of PTSD and trauma. And then the “shadow of death” began to creep into my arena. With only two days left to collect a paycheck, I have begun to question my decision, my ability, and my self-worth.
I decided to take a walk, enjoy the warm Southern California weather and review my situation. The “shadow of death” is only an illusion. It creeps over me whenever I began to feel like I am no longer a victim of trauma. What right do I have to believe this? What right do I have not to believe this?
The only way I am going to be able to move forward and succeed is to believe that, even if the “shadow of death” enters my arena, I can still defeat the charging feeling of failure.
Tomorrow morning when the sun rises, the birds start to sing, and the shadows of the day are hours away. I will reassess the situation, take a deep breath and realize that I have a choice to go into that arena or stand at the outside looking in, reviewing my options.