Courtney Ball

I’m the Lucky One

Yesterday I attended a retreat as part of a media summit focused on trauma and resilience. We were given a writing assignment in which we were asked to honestly reflect on a personal story of unresolved trauma.

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If I’m honest, I don’t feel any deep reservoir of unresolved trauma. Sure, I’ve experienced pain, fear, doubt, isolation, anger, and grief. I’ve been plenty pissed at God and the Universe on occasion. But most of the time, my concerns are more trivial.

What am I going to eat later? Can I get this project done on time? Where do my kids need to be next? Will my wife and I get time to relax tonight?

When I step back from the milieu long enough to actually reflect a bit, the most overwhelming feeling I have is gratitude.

My wife used to tell me I lived a charmed life. “Everything always just works out for you,” she said. Like that time I was broke and hungry and happened upon an ice cream store whose electricity went out so they had to give away all their stock before it melted. That was a sweet moment.

I’m privileged enough to be born into a loving family, given a solid education from kindergarten to grad school for basically nothing. I married a woman who is better than me in almost every way. I have two healthy, creative, intelligent, lovely daughters. Most days I get to do what I want and still have more than I need.

So, I’m fine. Really.

The hard part is when I get close to those who aren’t. The broken people. My neighbor who can’t get free from his crippling addiction. The woman I’m interviewing who keeps letting her husband treat her like shit, because that’s what her “loved ones” have always done. The teenage boy in my daughter’s school who lives in constant embarrassment because he has yet to master his anger.

And every day there are bombs and bullets, hunger and heartache that outstrip the worst I’ve seen.

For most of them, the only thing I can do is watch and listen, and that’s not enough.

That’s the hard part.

But then I meet the guy from Rwanda who watched all his friends and family get massacred when he was ten years old. He has machete scars on his neck. He walked for days to arrive at a refugee camp in which he waited for seven years. Today, however, he lives in my city, happily married with two daughters of his own. This man feels blessed!

The story never stops, neither the bad nor the good. So I keep watching, listening, and telling, because I’m one of the lucky people who can.

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Courtney Ball

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