After I left the Mayo clinic for my iron infusion I went to the beach. It was the first time I had been to the beach in 17 years. My husband carried me through the soft deep sand that I could not walk on and down to the water. I immediately started to cry. I felt free. I had these moments standing there where I was just me. I felt no pain. I felt no sorrow. I felt at peace. I will cherish those moments forever. I can’t remember the last time I was able to have a clear mind. I cannot remember a time where I have ever felt completely free and at peace. This is truly the only moment. Thankfully my husband took a picture so I could document this moment of rarity. I kept that feeling with me longer than I thought I could. My legs started to shake. I felt pain from standing but it didn’t matter at all. Even on the 2 hour trip home I felt…alive. I felt free of attachments. Nothing clinging to me. No memories or unwanted thoughts. Just me.
The next morning we decided to make this beach trip something we needed to do often. If I could make that drive for a Doctor then I could make it for my well being!
A few days passed and I felt the familiar unwanted anxiety. I resumed life of meeting people out and hoping no one had cologne on that would trigger a flashback or give me a rash. I woke up with adrenaline and went to bed with a sadness coming from a place I couldn’t put my finger on. I went back to therapy where she explained imagery and how to, in stressful situations, put myself back in the peaceful beach mode by integrating all of my senses in the image. It hasn’t worked. She tried me on a new medication that made me even more anxiety ridden and agitated. I know I have to trudge through. I know that the therapy I am doing is going to be a lot of work. Trauma therapy…
This is what I think of trauma therapy…
My husband shattered his arm many years ago. They had to put an external fixator in to hold everything together . Four bars were drilled into his bones so that his arm could heal. Four times a day we had to take off the gauze, clean the area, put antibiotic on it, and cover it again. When his bones were healed they unscrewed those bars while he was completely awake, unsedated. It seemed barbaric, the entire thing. The drilling into his bones, the unscrewing them out of his bones, this contraption on his arm. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t get comfortable. It was extremely painful from beginning to end. Then his arm was healed. He has scars. But he is healed. But getting there was a nightmare. Getting from shattered to healed was a nightmare.
That is what trauma therapy feels like. I was already shattered but someone finally took an xray and said, “Yes, you have had trauma.” It feels like someone is drilling into my memories. It feels like someone is trying to put together all the pieces of the shattered injuries. I can’t sleep. It is painful. It is nauseating. It leaves a pit in my stomach. It is a nightmare. It is not me standing on the beach!!!!! But in the end, I hope that the nightmare will end and I will wake up with some scars and a body that is healed. For now, it all hurts. My body hurts, I feel confused and I have no idea why. I feel sad and I have no idea why. Is it residual meds that we discontinued? Is it the dread/hope of starting a new med? Is it the possibility that I cannot tolerate any of these meds and this is just how I will be forever? I’ve spent months trying meds that I reacted badly to. The therapy is actually very gentle. It focuses on the good. It tries to bring good into the bad. But when you have never said the words out loud, the crimes committed against you, it is painful. It is an awareness I did not have before of the true pain I feel internally for what was done to me externally. It is an awareness I was not prepared for because I had no idea how deep it went.
This therapy taps into all of the guarded places. This therapy acknowledges and validates all those wounded places. This therapy is work. This therapy may be all I have in the way of dealing with the trauma that I experienced because medication may not be an option. It is scary. It is a process that I trust, but it is still scary.
I WANT to be that girl on the beach! Every moment of every day for the rest of my life! But I am that broken arm with an external fixator right now. And it is so so hard. I can revisit that girl on the beach but until the bars get unscrewed, I am still going to remain shattered trying to hold it all together, hoping that healing will come sooner than later.