I woke up one morning with a lump in my throat, a heaviness in my chest and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
I got up, did mom things, work things – all the things – but the feeling didn’t leave. That night I struggled to fall asleep, but once I did, I was awakened numerous times by full blown panic attacks.
The next day, getting up was like trying to move molasses. As I struggled with the most mundane of tasks, I kept mumbling under my breath, what’s wrong with me?? For the life of me, I couldn’t think of ANYTHING that was wrong.
But, as I stepped outside, something felt familiar. The wind, the smell, the checklist running through my head of things I needed to do for the kids with school events…and like the rush of a hurricane, memories flooded my mind and it clicked.
I couldn’t breathe.
I sat down as the waves of shock, horror, anger, and rage swept over me.
It was as if time had stopped. Like someone turned the clock and sent me back exactly one year ago. The year everything fell apart. The year my worst fears were realized. The year that marked me….changed me.
Without asking permission, my body sent me back to relive what I was too in shock to feel at the time. Too grief struck to process. Too overwhelmed to grieve.
According to an article by Lynn Fraser, “Unhealed trauma is stored in the tissues of our body”. She goes onto say, “The original traumatic experience felt life-threatening. That is why our system protected us from feeling it”.
I pride myself on strong-arming through the HARD. I am a doer, a fixer, a healer and a fighter. That is in my DNA. But, last year broke me….and the only way I knew how to survive it was to just….survive it.
This is why those who have experienced abuse as children often remember events in fragments. Like random pieces to a puzzle, they can recall singular events, but often they are out of order or seem disjointed. It is because of this survival tactic that we protect and keep parts of us safe.
Although I can relate to this with my own childhood abuse, I didn’t realize I would carry this into adulthood. After all, I love feeling. My spiritual practice is all about connecting with Spirit and being present in my body.
But, last year taught me I am no superhero.
I am human.
I am breakable.
I am wound-able.
I can remember the events of last year….but much like a child, I remember certain things very clearly…smells, conversations, weather patterns. But, there are gaps in my memory. Where the thoughts get foggy and muddled. Where I have completely blocked out significant moments.
According to Lynn, “People who have safe connections with others and within themselves are able to feel and be present with their experience. They attend to the memories, thoughts, images, words, feelings and energy in their body.”
So, the feelings are showing up NOW. Now, when my body feels safe. Now, when my body says it’s okay to connect. It’s okay to feel. It’s safe to process.
The problem is that I don’t want to feel it. I want to see it in a grave, 6 feet under. I don’t want to give any of those events power. I don’t want to cry anymore. I don’t want ANY OF IT. I didn’t want it then and I sure don’t want it now.
I want to forget the trauma.
ALL OF IT.
I want to move on. Heal. And let it be a past memory that I don’t have to look at. One that’s kept in a box somewhere far away.
But here’s the thing.
The more I tried to push the feelings away, the more intense they became. The more I tried to distract myself, the stronger the tears burned my eyes. My body was ready to grieve. Ready to feel. Ready to accept the weight of everything I was unable to bear last year.
When this clicked, my immediate words were: what the actual f***.
Listen, I don’t swear in my posts often. I am not one who forces my choice of words onto everyone. That’s not my style.
But, friends? I don’t have any other words.
Because, I lived the hell. I walked it. Braved it. Held four of my baby’s hands and walked them through the darkest, scariest nightmare. I wiped tears. Testified in court. And faced their abuser who smiled and prayed and thanked God for all of it.
I don’t want to relive that.
It seems cruel.
There’s a reason I didn’t allow myself to feel it.
It’s true, I didn’t allow myself to feel much of it. I simply couldn’t. I held it together until one day….one day when I cracked and an iceberg of grief spilled out….
When the not-guilty verdict was read….when he was released….when he smiled at me. That was when shock took over.
A random news reporter approached me. One who had been covering the trial. I was standing in the middle of the courtroom with a blank stare; frozen in utter disbelief. Our eyes met. And I lost it. This perfect stranger held me for what felt like hours. As I shook, sobbed and melted in her arms, I kept saying, “I only have four daughters….I only have four…..why did he have to do this….”.
I hate remembering that day.
I hate it.
But, it’s the one time I actually remember feeling it.
My pride wants to tell you that I overcame it. That I am whole. I am intact. Unfazed.
But, my body is telling me (and you) a different story.
I am sharing this, not because I am a hero. Or that I am an expert on any of this. I am telling you this, so that when you wake up one random day and feel like you’ve been hit with a freight train, you might know which bread crumbs to follow. To trace back to the event your body is reliving.
So, what do you do when unexpected trauma resurfaces in your body?
Well, I’m glad you asked, because I’m learning this too. According to an article by Jami Deloe, you should focus on these four things:
- Allow yourself to feel the feeling (yeah, I’m there. No fun)
- Pay special attention to self-care (I noticed that I was extremely fatigued during this process. Allowing myself to rest and take it slow was huge)
- Talk to someone about it (Thank you therapist. Friends. Journal. And my dog. You are excellent listeners)
- Tell yourself the truth (Reminding myself that I am safe and that the event is over became my mantra)
There are other methods suggested for releasing trauma from your body, such as allowing yourself to shake, Reiki, trauma release exercises and energy healing. Personally, I have experienced many healing benefits from yoga, meditation, Reiki and energy healing. And, of course, an excellent therapist.
I am taking this one day at a time. And I believe that healing is how we gain our power and voices back. But, it isn’t found in vindication. It’s found in allowing ourselves permission to feel it. To hold it. And then release it.
PS: I sat down with pastor Jim Lee and talked all about the science of energy healing. Listen in here.
PSS: If you’re interested in the yoga and meditation practices I use when walking through trauma, you can find them here.