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Inner healing work

Braving trauma – the year everything fell apart (part 1)

I haven’t publicly talked about what I went though last year until now, but I want to share what led me to the day I broke…..when everything hit the absolute bottom.

Let me set the scene…

I was enduing every parent’s worst nightmare: my kids testifying of atrocious acts in court against their former school director – a family friend.

The trauma of this along with other personal events, led to anxiety, depression and where I felt forced to accept outcomes out of my hands – outcomes that were never supposed to happen.

All of this hit me at a level I had not felt.

A deep level that shook me to my core.

I was strong….until I wasn’t.

I remember one morning staring at myself in the bathroom mirror.  I knew I needed to brush my teeth. I knew I needed to get dressed. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t move. I was just…..paralyzed. Everything felt so wrong. So upside down. Like everything I loved and had tried to protect was being ripped away.

Piece by piece.

And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I slid down the bathroom wall, slumping to the floor. Holding my phone in numb hands, I called one of my best friends and told her I didn’t know what to do. Like at all. Like all I seemed to be able to do was sit and stare. I couldn’t make my body move. I couldn’t.

I couldn’t do….anything….

She has experience with trauma, and slowly told me I was in shock. That nothing was wrong with me. But that I just needed to breathe. To focus on that. That was all I had to do.

So, I breathed.  For a long time. She sat with me on the phone for what felt like hours.

The odd thing, was that I couldn’t even cry. I couldn’t make the words connect to my feelings.

Not yet…..there was still too much unbelief. Too much rage. Too much shock. There was just too much of everything all at once.

As she held my words on the other end of the phone, something in me started to crack. I felt it…it was as though my solid core was breaking – shattering – by circumstances bigger than me. I felt it. And I knew there wasn’t anything I could do, but surrender. Surrender to the breaking. To the pain. To the anguish. To the anger. And somehow – SOMEHOW – keep moving with part of me not intact.

Although my insides were shredded, my divorce was finalized and my kids were involved in a case that nightmares are made of, I pulled myself up. I got up off the of the floor. I washed my face and I reminded myself that I had to fight.

Even though I wanted to quit. Wanted to stop. Wanted to run away. Make it all end. I had to keep fighting.

That day I learned that shattered people can still move. Even when everything feels gone, hopeless, lost and beyond repair. We don’t die. We gather our pieces together and we bravely walk into the darkness to face the music.

The music ahead of me would not be easy.

It would mark me in ways that nothing else could. It would change me beyond the capacities of my imaginations.

But, every mark on my journey thus far had prepared me for this. I remembered the little girl who dealt with her own abuse. I remembered the nights hiding in a bathroom as a young adult from my own abuser. I remembered the 23 year old girl who took her baby in her arms and left, not knowing where she was going, but knowing she couldn’t stay. I remembered that girl growing into a single mom who survived. I remembered the last 10 years of that woman continuing to love and persevere the chaos and pain of another fractured marriage and home.

All with the constant pressure to keep duck taping it all together.

As I pulled myself up from the floor and looked in the mirror – I didn’t recognize the eyes staring back. They were not young anymore. They were no longer naïve. They weren’t hopeful. They were not full of faith. They didn’t believe the rescue was coming.

They were dark…they were angry. But they knew how to survive. They knew that there was no option but to rise, scream, yell and fight. Fight for myself and my children. Fight until we were heard. Fight until we were free.

This whole website started as one about my faith. Ironic now that I am telling you I’ve experienced a crisis of one.

But, I think I’m past trying to impress you. Or show up as someone other than who I am.

Last year changed me.

It shook much of what I thought was unshakable.

It tore me and everything I loved apart.

Like ripping a baby from a mother’s arms, I watched my dream of my husband and I die. I watched my prayers for protection over my children be answered by my greatest fears. I watched friendships crumble and my belief in receiving what you give become a falsehood. 

The shock I experienced led to adrenaline, which opened the door to depression, anger and everything in between. Which led to a complete deconstruction of my life (I wrote about the full story here).

Everything had to change. Everything I built had to be torn down so that something new – something beautiful – could be rebuilt.In every birth, there is a death. So much inside me and my life died. It had to. And because of that death, new things are being born. Slowly, my cracked heart is beginning to heal. Slowly, the unconditional love of friends and family is piecing my broken self back together. Little by little, I’m taking my life back, taking care of myself and changing the dynamic of my everyday. With lots of therapy, I am facing shadows from long ago that I had ignored and brushed aside.

Letting go of everything you once knew and believed in is terrifying.

But, it opens you up to receive truth – the truth you may have been avoiding the entire time. I didn’t want to acknowledge my deep-rooted fears of abandonment. I didn’t want to explore my anger at those I had trusted. I didn’t want to admit that I constantly felt the need to rescue and fix people in order to believe I had value. I didn’t want touch the rage I felt towards those who hadn’t listened to my gut instincts.

To say out-loud that I needed to let someone into my pain. That at the end of the day, I am just another wanderer trying to figure this thing out too.

But that bleed is where the healing starts.

It is not an easy fix or an overnight exchange. I still have many roads ahead of me – I will probably be healing the rest of my life. But, the beauty isn’t in the destination. It is in the journey. And, I am proud to say that for the first time in my life – even after everything that happened – I am finding joy in the journey.

That is a first.

With my own hands, I tore down every institution that brought me fear and pain. I am still navigating my way through it, but each day I can say I am gaining more peace, clarity, love and joy. And each day I am getting to know who God really is.

Not the image of God that had been watered down into a religion or denomination – but a Spirit who is bigger than all of that. The one I saw glimpses of before: the one who whispers into my ear when it’s time to leave and time to stay. The one who sits with me at the table of heretics, adulterers and the expelled ones in society.

I like that one.

I choose that one.

Because, I don’t have to adhere to anything other than what is. I can be at peace with my untraditional story. I can breathe knowing that I am not being punished or reprimanded. I am not being held to any man-made boundaries at all.  And each day I am covered in unshakable divine love.

So, why share this with you?

Why today of all days, did I feel like opening up this page of my story? I think it’s because I want you to know that there will be days, months and years that you aren’t okay.

And that it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. You will wander, question, leave and come back to many things on your journey. And that you are free to do so. You are free to crack, break and crumble.

Just know that you will not die in the wilderness. You will come out on the other side. You will not be defined by any of it. Because there is so much more to you than what has happened to you. You have permission to ask for help. To reach out to hands willing to hold your words and pain. None of us are without pain. None of us are without broken pieces. We are all in this thing together.

From one wanderer to another,

Anna

For part two, go here: When Trauma Resurfaces. An Invitation to Heal – Braving Trauma (part 2)

PS: Going through a difficult time? I made this just for you: I put everything I use to get me through the hard stuff all in one place. Enjoy 🙂

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.

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