I stood on a bridge over this stream today. This stream is one of many on the hiking trail I was on. The streams turn into waterfalls which splash into a major river that feeds into one of the Great Lakes. I stood on the bridge, which was just wooden slats, and held out my arms, and raised my head, and closed my eyes. I could hear the stream rushing by and the wind in the trees above my head. I imagined this stream of cold pure water rushing through my body and touching every cell in my body, making them clean, pure, refreshed, back to before they were damaged. I felt the wind blowing through my body, dissipating all that isn’t mine to hold on to. I was cleansed, at least for a moment, of the demons inhabiting my heart and soul. I was once again baptized into my adulthood and the knowledge of my inherent innocence and purity. I was whole.
One of the things that my therapist talks about regularly with me is the language that I use. Every session, we consult the thesaurus to look for the best words to describe a situation or feeling. We also talk about the language I use to speak about myself and my experiences and the affect that language can have on me.
Today, Jodi, a therapist and shaman that i know, posted this video. She talks about the affect on us of acknowledging how well we are functioning despite how awful we may be feeling. This suddenly made sense to me. Self talk really does make a difference. I can choose to tear myself down with my words or to build myself up eitwh my words. Instead of saying to myself that I’m a mess because of all of my flashbacks and nightmares, I can choose to talk about the fact that I’m still functioning well as a parent, a wife, and a friend in spite of feeling tired and drained due to tbe flashbacks and nightmares.
I’m making a commitment to myself to work on being aware of how I talk to myself, and changing it to build myself up, instead of tearing myself down.
Once a month, I get a massage. I met G, my massage therapist about years ago when i was teaching a foster parenting vlass and she was a new foster parent. After one of the classes, i was talking with G and her wife and G mentioned that she was a massage therapist. My own psychotherapist at the time had been encouraging me to try massage. As soon as G mentioned doing massage, i knew that someday, she would give me my first massage. Later, i looked G up on my friend Google, and found that she had become interested in massage during her recovery from incest issues. I knew. I knew. I knew she would get it.
It was a few more years, and i contacted G about massage, telling her a little about my healing journey and putting some parameters around my boundaries. G took everything in stride. No table. No clithes removed. Just touch my back and hands. Then after my bariatric surgery a coupke of years ago, i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I needed to find different methods of dealing with the pain. Acupuncture, meditation, and….massage.
I laid on the table for the first time ever. I had nothing but underpants on. G touched me gently and stopped when things were too hard. But, she also challenged me and suggested things that might feel good. We found that more firm presssure was better than soft. I learned to ask for what i needed. Do that again. Not there tonight. Harder. Softer. Stop. Can i please have a blanket? All of my requests were met with respect and delight. I found myself becoming more relaxed duriing my massages and benefitting more and more from them.
Thr last few weeks have been very difficult for me. Fibro flare. Nightmares and flashbacks. My best friend died. I had a massage the night of her funeral. G suggested we make a commitment to be quiet. I agreed. The table warmer was on. A warmed rice bag was on my feet. Beautiful music was playing. For the time I was on my stomach, i just sunk into the foam pad on the table. I was comforted by the heat sources . And i was in a wonderful cozy place… somewhere on the cusp of sleep or deep meditation, yet very aware of the hands ministering to my body. I felt like I might have finally found my body after all of these years. I was comforted.
Even without the horrific sexual abuse I endured at the hands of many people, i was sexually harassed by several men in my life. One of them, notably, was my father. When i was 13 or 14 years old, he told me that I should wear high heels because men liked the way that legs looked in high heels. And if I didn’t dress to attract a man, how was I ever going to get a man? My mother was present for this comment anbd agreed with him. I was 13 or 1r, and they were worried ablaboutut a man being sexually attracted to me. Most fathers would want to protect their daughters from this kind of attention, but not mine.
I’ve been having nightmares lately, almost like sleeping flashbacks. I’ve been almost not sleeping. I’ve also been doing almost no work on my childhood trauma in therapy. I’ve had other stuff to focus on…my wife refusing to admit that she is physically falling apart, my oldest son with his increasingly intense behavioral issues, my constantly failing friendships, my seeming social ineptness. But, I think in not spending time on my childhood stuff, I’ve forced my mind, my heart, my younger parts to leak the stuff out anyway possible; hence the nightmares. And I’m realizing that most of these nightmares are of events that took place between the ages of 10 and 14. In fact, this evening, I took time to attempt to list out everything that happened in those years. It was so much, and so completely horrifying, that I dry heaved through the writing of the list. It was pretty gross, but pretty telling of just how petrified i must have been as a kid. I am overwhelmed by the ghastly things I lived through in those years, and for the first time ever, I also found myself totally awed by the child who could survive those things, and not die. That child, not only survived, but found people to love her. That child grew up to be a good person….a good wife, good mother, good friend.
So, that is the state of my heart right now…overwhelmed and awed (and intensely nauseous…yuck).
I’m realizing that lots of times, it’s been me that gets hurt when I don’t know the rules. I didn’t know the rules sbout how to be sa kid in my family. And right now, I apparently don’t know the ruled of many friendships. I guess that if my family were a real family and my friends were real friends, they would make sure I knew the rules. In fact, I’m wondering if there should even be rules. I only have one rule with my friends, “please do not hurt me intentionally”. However, apparently, supposed friendships can have many kther rules. And then, i start to wonder, are those people really my friends?
To the infant me:
I will take you to parks and creeks and mountains and lakes and hills and oceans and wetlands and beaches. You will be safe with me. I will not let go of you until you are ready to walk on your own. I will never let go of you until you are ready to swim on your own. Even when you are older and stronger and more independent, I will hold your hand and hug you. When you are scared, I will honor your fear. When you are brave, I will honor ypur courage. I will teach you to be a warrior, even when you are needy. I will teach you to be brave enough to learn to value solitude. I will be with you. No matter what.