On the fourteenth of February, I wrote this short journal entry about the recovery process. From time to time I read through some of my old writing and journal entries. Tonight, I skimmed through recent journal entries and felt compelled to blog this entry. When I first read the title of Mandy’s blog Healing Beyond Survival/ A Blog About Post-Traumatic Growth I was intrigued because at times I’d felt like my brain was rewiring itself and allowing me to heal.
After reading this does anyone else feel like they are transforming with each episode? It seems counterintuitive, yet it makes all the sense in the world…
My brain must be undergoing “post-traumatic growth” as Mandy labels this change in perception survivors go through as therapy progresses and little bits and pieces fall out of my head and onto the page.
I can be in the middle of something and a piece comes back to me. I don’t always have time or the ability to write it down. I try to make time though.
Scraps of paper liter my house. Five in my purse. Two on the coffee table. Seven under my nightstand. As I paint, write, stare blankly at the TV, look up at the ceiling I’ll think of something and have to write it down.
I’m beginning to more clearly understand what happened to me. It is as if someone dumped a three thousand-piece puzzle all over my house and said good luck finding them all. The putting it together part is more complicated at times than finding each piece in the first place.
The biggest problem? All the pieces are tiny; many look almost identical. Yet, I’m slowly beginning to find several pieces and starting to put them together. Sometimes though a piece isn’t always in the right location so I start again.
Healing the body, mind and spirit is a gradual process, but a worthwhile one. One day, I hope to see the entire puzzle finished, but until then I’ll continue looking for the pieces and connecting what I’ve found. Freedom is worth the pain.
In this post, I talk about a popular theme developing each week as I sit on my therapist’s couch. Bathing. In Intrusive Thoughts; Mom’s Voice I say “I see childhood.” In this post I’m briefly able to describe the flashback…
I look at the pink bath towel as I wipe my hairy adult legs. I study crooked six-month old teal nail polish and the green veins on top of my feet. As I stand up, the bubble-gum pink towel freezes me. Flash. It’s bath time.
Just outside the bathroom door, mom turns, rests her hand against the wall. “I’ll be watchin YOU. So, better dry right.”
I scream until I think I’ll go mad. I hate it. Hate having to tell her I’m done so she can watch me dry off. Sometimes I scream so hard, my face flushes fire-engine red and all I hear is the sharp buzz in my ears.
I stop and listen to the sound.
It is my heart beating in my ears. I feel the red gooey heart frantically pumping blood. I see it. I’m in a rage. I cry so often that my throat is sometimes sore and a sense of exhaustion tugs at my whole being. Even my legs feel heavy.
Bath Towel Terror
As I step out of the shower this afternoon, I pause, look at the bubble-gum pink towel, and see childhood. Mom tells me I have to let her watch as I towel off to make sure all the water is off. I remember how tormenting bath time was as a child.
I shake my adult head, and laugh out loud at the ludicrousness of the situation. Something as simple as taking a bath and looking at a bath towel can take me right out of my adult head.
In a few hours I go to yoga and leave with a clearer mind. I listen to my body when it wants rest, and I tell the voice in my head -mom’s voice- to be quiet. Leave me alone. I’m not listening to you. Your voice serves no purpose.
I flew back to California on August 29th, a little over a year since I had my first full-blown PTSD breakdown in Auntie’s apartment. This time I walk through the chaos of LAX alone, my mother on the other side of the country unaware of this second journey west.
The foliage is brown and crinkly as I walk down Loma Avenue, not as colorful as last year.
“Mom. Please don’t cut my hair!” I whine, squirming on the black folding chair.
She jabs me with scissors as a sharp reminder to sit up straight while she cuts my already short hair. Screams fade to muffled cries as I realize, I have to do as she says.
I mature to be the compliant daughter, always willing to please my mom. I was after all, I thought, responsible for her happiness.
Over the last several days, I begin to question my writing, my purpose, my urge to tell this story. Followers and readers of my blog, thank you for listening.
During the holidays, I severed my connection with bdlheart and quietly sat in agitated sadness, questioning bdlheart, and wondering if my writing was relevant. This holiday season, instead of taking the artificial Christmas tree from the attic and decorating the house, I sat on a yoga mat and breathed, thought about healing from the past, but mostly about what the present looks like now that the past has altered in perspective.
During the winter solstice, I decided to let go of fear so love of life can take its place. Auntie talked to me on the phone during Christmas and mentioned my writing. She began reading from books which she said reminded her of me. One in particular, was about the necessity of writing to continue learning about your life. I was silently touched that she believed in me and believed in my writing so much.
Auntie said it was 90 in California. It was 40 in Indiana. My spirit felt warmed up as I hung up the phone. Last night I wrote 7,000 words.
“So what do you want me to bring?” She asks. I picture her sitting at the kitchen counter or pacing around the dining room. I picture her yelling.
Stay present, I plead with myself. I notice the soft suede coach against my hand.
I am trying not to feel ashamed of what happened to me. I was a DEPENDENT child. Being a free-spirited child inspired irritation in most adults I encountered. If I continue to blame myself then I am continuing to say I am wrong for who I am.
I had an appointment with my therapist, Lacey, yesterday, and we spoke of the anger I hold onto. She asked me what anger would look like if I were to unleash it on my mom. I sat there speechless.
After driving home from my grandmother’s farm, I lie on my bed and stare catatonically at the ceiling fan. My body wants to do something, but my mind is stuck, frozen, unable to make my body function.
I think about death. The more I think about death the closer I feel like I am approaching death. My stomach hurts. I cannot stop going to the bathroom. All I can think is cancer runs in my family. What if I have bladder cancer? What if I am dying? After seeing grandma confused and frail in the nursing home, death is directly in my face. I am so scared about how I will leave this world. Panic creeps into my chest. My heart feels like it could explode. My shoulders feel so heavy as if they were supporting a pile of bricks. Panic. Panic. Panic. I need to work. I need to focus. I need to move on with my life. But all I can do is sit and stare at the ceiling as though the answers are scribbled across it. The ceiling is a blank canvas and has no answers. My mind too is a blank canvas containing few answers.
My brother and I walk out to grandma’s garage and pop open beers. I snoop around, looking at all of the old stuff scattered about.
Little and big things that belonged to grandpa, come into view. In the corner hangs an ancient rotting chair. I can remember sitting on it in the corner of grandpa’s little woodworking shed. My brother and I have our cars parked in the spot where the shed once stood.
The bottom of the chair feels cool against my fingers. It is stained a deep brown. The rotting wood is damp and cold and scratchy to the touch. It was one of the few chairs that I would willingly sit on and behave. I hated sitting. When I was told to sit anywhere else I would become fidgety and quickly find myself in trouble.
I can remember sitting in that chair and swinging my dangling legs side to side. I loved sitting in that chair and watching him work. Oftentimes, I would sit across from him at his woodworking bench and play with scraps of wood, painting them, sawing them into different shapes.
I see old pieces of his wood. I pick up one of them and it is the same thin yellow scrap piece he would let me use. I can still smell the saw dust and feel it collecting in my eyes, causing them to water. I can feel the safety of grandpa’s presence nestled among the relics of the past.