I think our roads to emotional recovery, no matter the source of injury, are as individual as we are. Perhaps some roads have more in common than not.
Childhood trauma survivors are just that, survivors. And what I think they have in common, especially when a lot of their trauma was pre-verbal, pre-walking, is that it is almost impossible to recognize the wound. It has no description, no words, therefore no reference points other than triggered responses to phenomena.
Recently, I learned something for myself. I learned yet again (since I learn this every so often) that my trauma was more traumatic than I make it out to be. In relation to non-trauma, my trauma was severe and long lasting, as well as self perpetuating. That which made it severe was that it was so fucking painful. Often, the deepest pain is that there are still no words, no way to tell it, to get a witness, to make it feel less lonely of a cross to bear.
I think this may be the value of stories. If I can sit with those who accompanied me down my path of post trauma, even while I continued to be traumatized, and if I can hear their stories about their lives while on a path with me, maybe I can broaden my perspective, be able to see through their eyes, stay still while they tell their story, and accompany them without being triggered.
I don’t know if anyone who was with me, and by this I mean my sons primarily, would want to tell me their childhood memories of life with their mother, because they may be afraid of hurting me. But I think I can listen and not take on the pain, because I already have the pain in me. I was there. It lives in my body. I think it may lift if I hear it from their lips. I may be released from the prison of self doubt.
Self doubt arises out of shame, and shame arises out of guilt, and guilt all too often stacks the skeletons in the closet, then goes forth carrying the closet around in the mind of the owner. That is where secrets are stored, isn’t it?
Life sucks, and then you die. Life is beautiful, and then you die. Is it any wonder we struggle sometimes when both of those facts are true? It turns out, they are not opposites. They are co-habitants of our bodies.
We feel. We feel through our bodies’ sensors. We then put words and descriptions and diagnoses and problems and solutions to the test. We try to think our way out of the struggle, but the struggle is held in our bodies, in our soma. The soma is a good place to start a healing journey.
A good massage that touches your skin, delineates your joints and spinal configuration, as well as muscle shapes, can bring your mind into your body and begin a conversation with yourself about who “you” are and what you feel, not just think.
Hatha Yoga, as well as the eight limbs of yoga, serve as internal massage for both the body and the thoughts, as you work to strengthen and make flexible your body as well as your mind, replacing distraction and discursive thought with complete presence in the present.
One more thing. Do not hurry toward perfection, thinking it is a goal in life. The day you reach perfection is the day you leave an imperfect body and an imperfect life. Live instead, in the wisdom of imperfection.