Trigger warning folks, this isn’t easy to read yet I want to share it with all that want to hear it.
I’m sitting on my bed in New York and I am crying. Hot tears burn down my cool, anemic cheeks and stain my stuffed Unicorn toy. Barely breathing or racing for oxygen are two states of being that I dance through as my mind rushes in the moment. The argument is boiling downstairs like an unattended tea kettle on the stove. The familiar sound of the smashing of furniture and slamming of doors haunt my ears and leaves me reeling. I shudder as I hear the very worst of the shenanigans going on and pray to whatever God will hear me. Some one ascend the stairs, I can barely decide whether I want to brace myself for the worst or hide in the closet. It’s too late, though. The door bursts open like a tornado and I shriek in fear. I brace myself for what is coming next because I know from experience that it’s going to be painful.
I come back to the present and I’m in the middle of a conversation with my husband, Tim. My voice is higher and I sound more desperate. Tears, those same tears cried as a child are now leaking out of my eyeballs and blinding my vision. Every word and thought from this moment, til I regain control, is colored by that terrible old memory. Thankfully, my husband is a patient man. He points out to me that I am getting anxiety-ridden and because he knows a lot of the story of my past, he takes a moment to reassure me that I’m alright and that I’m safe. A warm embrace, soft words, and patience are the tools he uses to bring me back to the present. At the same time, I’m doing some square breathing techniques and calming my mind so I can hear what my husband is actually saying.
This wasn’t an overnight process, this relationship of mine and Tim’s. The trust came over time when I realized that my husband was not part of the mental tape playing in the back of my head. I lucked out and I take ownership of looking at life a different way than my parents. There was a time in our marriage that our bond almost snapped apart and I was one half of the equation that lead up to our almost divorce. During this time of healing, I decided to dig deep inside myself and be honest with my person for once. That was the hard step, and as I say, “Small steps are bigger than huge leaps.” These things tend to stick with us longer and show us that we can overcome challenges.
I discovered that my flash backs to the past where coloring my interactions with other folks and that I wasn’t looking at them objectively. I would replay tapes of losing my dad to illness, the abuse inside my family life, and also things that happened when I ran away from home and dropped out of school at 16 years old. I tended to gloss over with a lot of folks that critical time in my development because I didn’t realize the value and impact it had on my being. All of those video tapes were stored on a shelf in the back of my head and played seemingly at random. Even though I recognized that the tapes were memories, I felt helpless against them because they could surface at any time. I wasn’t aware of my triggers and what caused those tapes to inexplicably begin playing over and influencing my emotional stare.
After I discovered my triggers, then I had to do something with this knowledge. It wasn’t enough to avoid or run from the things that scared me even if I knew what it was and could identify how I got there. I had to take it up another notch because I wasn’t satisfied with my own fear. I loathe fear and yet I love it because it gives me something to chase after. I decided one day, that I would relive those tapes again and look at them differently as they triggered and rewrite what I thought about each of those memories. Rewriting isn’t changing trauma, however, it is recognizing it for what it is and that realization gave me the ability to see both the weaknesses and strengths that arose from those memories.
Yes, I got hurt badly physically and sexually. I also developed a pain tolerance that has lead me to work with the dying and those suffering through all stages of life. I was able to finally rewind and play the tape as an adult, standing next to my inner child. It was a slow process and it’s still ongoing. I had this confident adult who was on her Path to Clergy standing next to this cool little kid who loved different cultures, artwork, and spirituality. The two of parts of myself could culminate and talk through these scary and also happy episodes. The inner child was getting her voice back and it having a major impact on the adult part of my self. The video tapes weren’t playing at random. There was a pattern to them and it began to make sense.
And having some control over the mental tapes is just one step in the process! Now that I wasn’t being held hostage by these memories any more, I could hear so much more from the world. I heard my friends giving me compliments where once I heard insults. I looked at my Tribe more objectively and saw not only their flaws, I also saw their talents and ways I could be of service to them. I also looked in the mirror differently and saw a brave person who runs at fear and stares it down. I also saw some one that fell on their behind a lot and needed an attitude readjustment. I had created a safe environment in my head where I could be vulnerable and protected so I could be strong on the outside. I back slide occasionally, and I’m suddenly a pile of mushy tears, yet I know what I’m doing now and have a plan.
The truth is that all of us have a library of video tapes, dvds, posts, and tweets that we call our memories. I could have let mine forever color the individual I was or I could have given up all together. I have a purpose and a drive and the one thing I discovered by reliving that past is that I promised myself as a child that I would never let the abuse happen again. This goes beyond me, this is the vision I have for the Pagan community and indeed the world. It’s not a world without suffering. It’s a world of open communication and thinking minds that have loud voices to speak up. It’s a world full of open ears and great debaters. It’s not going to happen over night, it’s going to take small steps like I did when I was replaying the mental tapes and rewriting how I looked at my self and trauma.
Thanks for reading. Please, I encourage you all to share your insights on what I’ve written or you can share your experiences. <3 – Shining Quill the Unicorn