This is the 3rd and final part in a series I’ve written on Trauma.
We all suffer trauma throughout our lives. Actually we suffer micro-traumas everyday. We lose jobs, we are rejected romantically, we are hurt by a loved one, we suffer deaths, crimes, and an influx of negative media both real (war, rape, shootings, civil unrest) and dramatized (reality t.v., hyped up news stories, that one co-worker or family member who complains about everything). Granted some traumas are worse than others and can have life altering, lasting effects on the person who was touched by them.
There are a slew of Trauma Disorders : Acute Stress, Adjustment, Depersonalization, Dissociative Identity, Panic and PTSD. I won’t go into the specifics of each but, I assure they are very real and can be very debilitating for those that have them. Below are list of symptoms that Trauma leaves behind:
Emotional & psychological symptoms of trauma:
Physical symptoms of trauma:
Even years after, I was in the safe place I now call home, I carried these symptoms. Frequently some of these symptoms are treated with medication, which does absolutely nothing to treat the actual Trauma that occurred. As my husband says, “You’re just putting a Band-aid on a broken leg.” So, to follow this analogy, if you want to fix your broken leg, you must have it re-set which can be excruciatingly painful, but is completely necessary if you ever want to walk again.
I spent a great deal of my life trying to reset my breaks myself. Some I repaired and some I filled but, the cracks were always still there. I have been medicated in the past to treat some of the somatic symptoms but, that did not help my psyche or my soul. After my husband and I were married I found a great therapist named Cyndi who, (lucky for me) “specializes” in Trauma. In addition, she really cares; which, having been to many therapists over the years, I can tell you, not all of them do. She very gently walks me through my Trauma at my pace, on my time, when I feel like it and if I don’t, IF I say, “Wait! That’s enough pain to trudge through for today,” she respects that. For someone who has had their boundaries completely disregarded having them nurtured is very important. She has done amazing things for my mental and emotional recovery. Incredibly healing things but, that still left my soul somewhat shattered.
When I was younger, if I need some Soul work, I would just disconnect myself from those around me, place myself in solitary, and do the work. As an adult, in a relationship with another human, and mother to two others, that’s a need I couldn’t oblige. How can you take a pilgrimage when you are nursing a baby? How can you lock yourself away when for days when your loved ones need you? You can’t. You just can’t. And FUCK . . . I didn’t know how to be vulnerable in front of other people or how to tell them I was hurting. I’m an emotional ninja. No one sees me cry. Pfft, most of the men I’ve dated are far more soft than I. Moreover, why would I share the things that have hurt me most? It’s not like I want anyone else to have to suffer the Trauma I endured and to me sharing it was equivalent to dragging them through a mine (mind) field. So, I became comfortable numbing myself with food and television which led me to a reality show (a extreme rarity for me to watch) on Showtime called Polyamory: Married and Dating.
One of the primary people on the show is a woman named Kamala Devi who co-wrote a book* with a man named Baba Dez, titled Sacred Sexual Healing.
*I am the type of person who researches everything that I take in; t.v., blogs, books, authors, news reports, (even) my shopping purchases, etc. Upon discovering the show I wanted to know more about the “Queen of Poly” and how these people were able to open their boundaries to include others and still keep them intact in respects to themselves, which is how I came across her book. If you want to know more about her, visit KamalaDevi.com*
In the book, there is a lot about pain and boundaries but, at the same time I still felt disconnected from it. Yes, I was reading about these healing practices and gaining great information but, I was seeking more. I wanted to know how to be soft, vulnerable (more girly?) and through Six Degrees of Tantra Separation from Kamala to Baba to Reid to The Darlings (Nathan and Monique) to Lawrence I found myself at an Intro to Sexual Energetics class this past May (2014).
The title of class, in my opinion is bullshit (no offense guys) because it doesn’t even begin to convey everything that you learn. I suppose though that, How to Fuck Yourself to Spiritual Healing & Freedom and How to Tell Others Without Words to Go FUCK Themselves, doesn’t fit as well on the Facebook banner or flyers. I’m sure it also depends on what you’re seeking. I was seeking healing, which is what I stated when we did our awkward (for me at least) grade school introductions of ourselves the first night. When Lawrence asked what that would look like for me I said, “Staying present. I’ve been through a lot of Trauma and when I get triggered I just get lost.”
The class involved a lot of movement, tears, focusing, and breathing; which is something you forget how to do when you have been traumatized. Throughout the exercises, Lawrence repeated this phrase, “Give yourself some space.” What a novel idea? DUH. Why I didn’t think of that?! Because I (like most of you) have been programmed my entire life to give to everyone else. WHAT ABOUT ME?! When did I forget to give myself . . . space? Here I was, at 32, laying on the floor, crying with my eyes clenched tight like a toddler convincing myself that if I can’t see anyone else then they can’t see me; re-learning to give myself some fucking elbow room, some leg room, some boundary, and some freedom from the pain of the Trauma.
I was learning how to make love and give love to myself again. I was demanding space for myself from myself because I am my own worst (fr)enemy. I was going to back to those painful moments and memories inside my soul and escorting my injured girl out into the light. I didn’t do these hurtful things to myself, they were done to me, and now I was given a tool to “Close the Loop.” When Lawrence said those words during one of our practices, I felt an immense amount of relief because that’s what I was looking for. I wanted to stop that painful emotional, mental, and physical cycle that I couldn’t escape. I wanted the twitching, the headaches, the nightmares, and the fear to go away because as he said, “not much is happening, right now.”
It’s been 3 months almost since the class and a levity that was missing from our [my husband Ian and I] lives is now part of our daily existence. Am I still hurting? Absolutely. I have 32 years of space to make and a myriad of loops to close but, I don’t feel electric ALL of the time anymore. Some days, I get to be a gentle breeze or a light rain. Others, I give myself the room to be a goddamn hurricane if that’s what I need. I have given myself the right and the room to be soft in a world that is cold and hard. I have also been given tools to create a boundary that is only movable if I say so but, that can be very inclusive if approached with care and respect. I have also been given new, more loving “programs” to pass on to my own children so they may have a stronger foundation that I was ever given and so that they may create their space sooner than I did.
Really, there’s not enough words to explain how I feel and the gifts I received so I will just say this,
I’ve paid a penance for far too long, for sins, that I didn’t even commit and now . . . I’m just going to be happy.
It has been adapted over the years and others have developed more specific versions for emotional abuse, child abuse, and even just violence in general. Having been a victim of nearly every type of abuse there is at some point of my life, I personally find her original to be a simplistic yet very accurate depiction despite who the perpetrator or the victim is.
This was my existence prior to meeting my husband. Most people wouldn’t know this unless we were really close and even some of those few had/have no idea. This was also a regular part of my childhood; I actually grew to look forward to Mommy Dearest drinking or doing cocaine because it meant after the explosion, we would all be happy soon. As a child, I was sick regularly, I bit my nails, I twirled my hair until I pulled it out (I still have a bald spot). I would rip paper into tiny pieces and stick it in my pockets for safe keeping. I wet the bed until I was 9, I was a sleepwalker, and I spent a lot of time sitting in the confines of my closet because there, I felt safe.
When I became a teenager, writing and art, caffeine and cigarettes became my outlets. I still have numerous journals that are full of my pain and when the pain became too much I started to cut myself, not for attention, but for control. Over time it became very difficult to maintain the mask that I was taught to keep on my face. Despite a rather amazing ability to always smile during the shit storm, certain people in my life started to notice something behind that grin and they started to gently pry. Over the years, I gradually improved my ability to hide that anything was ever wrong. When my friend Jupiter moved away, I sealed up any remaining cracks and weak spots so everyone would just see a solid foundation from the outside. If you look happy, people don’t ask what’s wrong with you.
I met Ian (my husband) in the Spring of 2009 and by the end of that summer we were dating exclusively and living together. I realized prior to moving in that I had a lot of “stuff” I had to work through but I didn’t want to miss out on someone great just because of the torment that DS put me through. So, in true Roxy form, when I needed to cry I politely excused myself and did so in the confines of the bathroom or spent the bike ride to work bawling my eyes as cars whizzed past me. The amount of time I spent crying increased as did Ian’s suspicions about what the fuck was really going on. He tried to comfort me, hold me, and get me to talk about what happened whenever I was upset but, I wanted no part of that. The more he pushed, the more I retreated inside myself until it became too much for me to carry alone.
I eventually quit the old job I had and found a new one because DS continued to show up even though I had an Order of Protection taken out against him. He would stay right within the legal footage of the Order as he stood outside in the parking lot of my workplace making sure I noticed him, at least once a week. I changed my phone number, my address (twice), and he still emailed me and eventually showed up at my new job 3 months after the Order expired.*
*Prior to an Order expiring, you have the option to renew it for another 2 years. However, when you do so, you have to notify your perpetrator of the places (specific addresses) that they will have to stay away from, in essence, giving them a map to exactly where you are. When I brought this to the attention of the “Safe Place” secretaries, I was told, “If he shows up at your new place, just call the cops.” My response, “You recognize this paper is not a shield, right? It’s not going to stop him from being violent. It just gives the detectives a primary suspect once my body is found.” She did not respond after that, she just stared at me silently. I did not renew because I thought that I would be more able to maintain my anonymity.*
From the moment I moved in with my husband (then boyfriend) I felt out of place. His home was too quiet and too empty and too organized and his life was too predictable and I started to need . . . something. I had no idea what was missing in my life. I had a nice home, a nice guy, a dog (his), a job, nice friends. What was missing? I would stay up for days (literally) sometimes because there was all this energy within me that I had nowhere to put. I tried art, writing, dancing, hooping; every single craft I could get my hands on. We had sex like eight times a day because I had to do something.
It wasn’t until meeting our therapist two years later (2011) that I had any idea what I needed. I needed an explosion and that’s something I would never get from my husband. He rarely raises his voice and he’s just not the type of person to be violent. Don’t mistake me, if anything ever happened to me or our children by the hands of another, the violence that would spew forth from him would be unequaled by anyone. Mel Gibson (Payback), Thomas Jane (The Punisher), their little vengeance sprees would be considered a delightful Sunday afternoon compared to the havoc that my husband would unleash. But for now, he’s a softie and he finds violence against women and children to be abhorrent and deserving of fast and extremely firm justice.
Due to the lack of explosive stimuli, the resulting “come down” is a state I wasn’t ever reaching. I started to get horrible migraines and back spasms. I couldn’t and wouldn’t sleep for days. When I did sleep, I would twitch, talk, and cry involuntarily. I would overeat and then under eat. I got to the point where leaving my house was a struggle and it just became easier to deal with the itch, the twitch, the buzz of electricity at home.
It became a really dismal existence. Here I was, after 27 years of my life, finally in a safe space needing an “incident” to relax. I had no way to explain, even to myself, that I missed the abusive cycle. That my body needed to get rid of some of that electricity before my breaker tripped. The coping skills I learned as child were no longer serving me here in this calm environment. I’d done them all over and over but, nothing squelched the electric vibrations within me. I read books on PTSD, Dissociative Disorders, depression, anxiety. I followed some courageous bloggers who spoke about their own trials and dilemmas. I even considered medication when I started to “stir the pot” seeking release.
Over time, therapy helped deal with the trauma, my husband helped deal with the drama, and I sought some cure for my broken spirit via the Net. While my psyche was being dealt with, I had 30 years of hurt that no one could repair but me. Eventually, I came across a Meet Up group that I thought might lead me to a softer place for myself; I watched their events for about a year. Simultaneously, I befriended a woman who I felt connected to through some mutual experiences in pain. It so happened that this woman, Monique, was also a member of my Meet Up group. This May (2014) she and a gentleman named Lawrence facilitated a class on energy that both my husband and I attended together. while there, for the first time in 32 years, I learned how to redirect the seemingly endless current within that had been on a loop for so long.
Holy Shite! I had so much more to say than I realized. To those that are still with me, THANK YOU and please return for tomorrow’s post; I will be sharing what I learned this past May from these two wonderful people who helped me solo much. Until then, as always, Be Riveted!