How We Process our Trauma

What goes around comes around


Day 7 – July 15, 2021 - Circles & Cycles


First

Today I was woken by a weird seizing-up in my back – like the kind you get in your calf muscle – a Charlie horse… but running up and down both sides of my back, where the lats are. I sat up and stretched one side to the other, trying to get the muscle to release, relax – no good.


I jumped out of bed, closed my bedroom door, hung onto the handle, and leaned my hips away from the door while stretching my arm up and over my head toward the door.

This is a trick I learned when I was a personal trainer – you create a “C” shape with your body from head to toe laterally, to stretch your lats and other muscles along the sides of your core.


Thank God, because after a few minutes my muscles released their death grip!

Waking up this way was in direct contradiction to the rest of this first week of my wellness project. I wonder where it fits amidst the amazing energy and joy I have experienced?


"Previously Unnoticed" - 7.15.21
 

Later

An hour later I had an early morning, virtual therapy session. All of a sudden, I was crying about my lost love. It was like processing my childhood trauma and abuse called forth feelings about him and our relationship.


Now that I have accepted that something happened to me, even if I cannot remember all the details, the kaleidoscope has shifted, and I’m seeing him and us in a different light – new colors previously unseen.


This feels like the beginning of a crazy dream where you see your entire life spread out before you and every moment of it is different from what you’ve ever seen before because now you see it with new awareness. All along a piece of the puzzle was missing, and that one piece pressed into all the others makes the picture completely different. What you thought you saw daily yesterday isn’t anymore.


 

Then

Today’s walk and the beach – so beautiful! Gray olive clouds warning of storms, lots and lots of fabulous rocks dotting the sand, then my pockets full and heavy. More art will come after these 30 days - foreshadowing future projects still hazy.


I met a friend for part of my walk, but we were quiet together, the beach so peaceful and serene we hesitated to disturb it. Just being there, strolling just beyond the waves lapping at the sand beside our feet, picking up whatever called to us, gave us more than words could have.


This silent, soulful energy followed me back toward the studio as I pondered a week’s worth of walks, art, and writing.


 

More

At some point walking back from the lake, the kaleidoscope shifted again, circles of understanding coming into focus. Thoughts from my therapy came back around; I saw behavior, growth, stagnation, and my life splaying out from the moment abuse occurred.


At the studio, I created art from this place. I put abuse in the center and the rest of me fanning out from that focal point – moments and milestones placed in the context of that single moment.


It changed everything. Everything I know, everything I am carries some bit of this truth. No matter how much I grow, change, or transform, it can never be removed or undone. But I’m reminded of the oyster again, and the bit of sand irritating this living thing, without which no pearl would become itself.


 

NOW

I’m having a visceral reaction to transcribing my words from last July. This effort comes at a time when I am navigating three relationship crises, needing to look deep inside and ask myself what role I play in each. I keep thinking about circles and cycles, circles and cycles - how things go away, and later come back around.


The kaleidoscope of life constantly shifting, how a degree this way or that can make everything look and feel new and different. Some days we cannot see our role in the drama of our life; we are simply the mountain standing the test of time against the elements - wind, rain, snow.


On other days we know we are a living, breathing thing directing a play. We move and act, sing and choose, connect and care, let go and hold on. We are part of everything and also alone. We rise and fall, give up, and begin again.


Some things we cannot change, others we can. The chaos of our world is the backdrop against which everything I do and say plays out. At my little desk, I work at creating a piece of writing.


I am trying to be one soul doing something right, taking a step outside my comfort zone to become myself, and align myself against the chaos, fear, anger, hatred, ignorance, stupidity, arrogance, indifference, ego, oblivion, marginalization, discrimination…


 

As I finish writing and attempt to find a resource to include for victims of sexual abuse, I find that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Synchronicity abounds! When I sat down to transcribe my words from July 15, 2021, I had no idea they would lead here. What a strange journey this has been.


I want to say to anyone who was abused or senses they may have been abused:

Trauma lives inside us if we don’t process it, and even when we do, it can still come back around after years of seeming dormancy. Please don’t suffer in silence, don’t blame it on yourself, don’t hide it under the rug or in the closet. Reach out, seek help, tell someone, find a support group, and free resources exist. Don’t give up.

 

Resources

The Body Keeps Score, Bessel van der Kolk


National Sexual Violence Resource Center – Founded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape


National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health


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