*photograph taken by my husband of me on the beach
I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to put THIS hair into a pony tail since getting it cut a few months ago.
I’ve put long hair into a pony tail my entire life. My arms remember doing it the thousands of times I did for my life. I no longer have long hair. There is nothing to put into a pony tail. My brain does not seem to know this. My arms don’t seem to know this.
Muscle memory is powerful.
My body remembers.
PTSD reminds my body of events from 30 years ago. My body reacts now at 45 years old in a way that my 11 year old is experiencing the event again. My brain does not seem to know in a PTSD moment that I am not in the fight of my life with an abuser.
I have been exploring how I feel during and after a PTSD moment and to the different triggers. I had NO idea that different triggers reminded me of different ages and different stages of abuse that occurred over my lifetime. Different triggers brought out emotions I felt at those times in my life. I had multiple abusers over many years. Some triggers leave me feeling petrified, frozen and unable to breathe. That is 11 years old. Some triggers leave me feeling manic and needing to regain control. That is 18 years old. Some triggers make me feel weak and useless. That is 23 years old. I ALWAYS end at 8 years old. Every time. I stand in the shower and I cry as I scrub my body until I cannot scrub it any more. Different ages take me to different abuses. Different triggers take me back to those ages. It takes time, mindfulness, persistance, grounding, etc, to make my way back to 45 year old me.
I am not 8, 11, 18, or 23 years old. I am 45 years old. My body remembers what happened during those years though. The memories are there. Just like my hands automatically go to put my short hair into a pony tail out when I am hot, my brain automatically during PTSD goes back to different ages of emotions when I was abused.
With time I wonder will my arms stop going to put my non-existent hair up?
With time I wonder will the PTSD triggers lessen and will I find my way back to my 45 year old self easier? It is hard coming back. I know when I am gone. I know when I dissociate. I know exactly the age I dissociate to. My body remembers. I am trying to teach my body that during those times I can still give it love. I am working on self love at EVERY age. I can still go into the past and give that 8 year old love and that 11 year old love. Those parts are inside of me. Those memories can receive love. I hope by giving all the parts of me love, I will be able to stay the 45 year old me. I really pray this is so.
I have been trying to let go of that that does not help me during healing. Some days are easier than others to do that. I will consciously push a thought away if it is not positive. A thought will pop up of my mother and I will just not go there. Some days. Today, I thought about me at all of those different ages I am nurturing. I thought, if my mother were in my life she could nurture those parts of myself. If I only had my mother. I miss having a mother. I wish I had a mother. Everyone deserves a mother. Sadness leads to anger. I end up hating her for not being here. I circle back to being sad because I have to do this alone. My mother sucks. There is no way around that. She sucks as a mother right now for this 45 year old self. She is a selfish prideful awful human being. But this will not help me heal. Again, I just cannot go there. BUT in thinking of her it helps me to realize and put into perspective that she would never have helped me to heal. That helps me to refocus on my own healing and how I can accomplish that.
I cannot rely on anyone else to heal me. No one else can save me. I would love the nurturing of my imaginary mother. But this work I need to do alone anyway. I have a husband. He cannot save me either. He is not my savior. If I put that on him then he will eventually fall from grace. He doesn’t deserve that responsibility. I HAVE to save myself. Every part of myself. I can have some helpers like my therapist, those in my tribe, my friends. I ultimately have to fix myself though.
I wish I had my mother’s hand to hold through this. I do not. I will go THERE less and less because she is not worth the space in my brain any longer. I do have my husband. He CAN and does hold my hand through this. With him next to me I believe I can do this. Even if he were not…I must save myself. Saving myself means loving all of me. Even in the PTSD moments at every age and every emotion, loving myself. I am a work in progress! I am happy that my 45 year old being has someone to hold my hand right now. I am surely blessed with that.
*picture of my husband and I holding hands taken by me