Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Healing Journey

Picture - The Healing Journey by Margeaux Gray

This morning I was talking to a survivor about her healing journey. 'Ten years ago' she said she acknowledged what had happened but then it took four years to reach out and start healing, then she encountered the Army of Angels and it wasn't until last year at their conference that she felt able to forgive herself; because so often instead of blaming the appropriate people we blame ourselves.

I asked her because I have been having terrible dreams - she also had terrible dreams to the extent that she would freak out - while asleep and once nearly punched her husband when he kissed her goodnight while she was already asleep; because as a child of course her abusers had similarly disturbed her at night.

After talking I couldn't stay awake. I had had a rough night. When you get bad dreams you don't want to sleep. But then even as you're not sleeping the worst things can enter your mind. It's like a spiritual Dante-an type of purging of the psyche or something. The more I move these days; the more 'stuff' comes up. Needless to say I haven't wanted to move for a very very long time. But that's exactly what has prompted me to move, to exercise, to take risks that may seem small fish for other folk.

She said that 'everything' that happened in her healing journey was something she found difficult to do or deal with. Essentially she was facing and overcoming her fears and not necessarily for herself either but for those around her; so that she could be a rationally protective parent rather than the one that was still traumatised years later, or overprotective, and just wanted to sleep the whole day through.

Like I did. I just wanted to sleep. I wanted 'it' to 'end' that continuum of awareness that says 'I am bad'. Only 'it' is me. It's as though I had to become someone else because I can't be that 'me' any more. And that 'becoming' is tremendously difficult; it's like a whole realignment of your consciousness, of your self awareness.

One of the reasons she cited for her own self-forgiveness was the joy of all these other survivors at the conference; how they lived their passions; their joy at having survived and their strength; that same strength that enabled them to carry on now shone in their smiles and eyes and their work.

As she spoke about this joy that she encountered I listened enthralled. It was so uplifting; such a counter weight to the'badness' I persistently felt inside and heard in my head; 'I am bad, I'm a bad person'. I had heard and felt it for days now. But these were survivors; they had suffered and come through to the other side and now they tried to help others heal not in an ineffective sympathetic wishy washy way; but in a way that said 'This worked for me and her and him and them. Try this' or an 'I'm here for you if you need to talk or to call'. Or 'This is how I came out of a dis-empowering situation where I had nothing, where I felt trapped, where I felt insignificant and 'lower than a dog' and 'now here I am, I have bought my own house, I have got my driving licence, I have my own business, I have kept down a job for three years, which is two years and eleven months longer than any other job AND I have forgiven myself. I deserve to be joyful'.

'Joy cannot coexist with violence' as Angela Shelton says. And it's as much the violence that persists within; that we do to ourselves as that which has been done to us by others.

Joy is also the greatest weapon we have against our self doubts and self harming thoughts and actions. Our discovery of the passion that leads to that joy somehow comes about through this mysterious healing journey. Without what happened or is happening; perhaps we would never know what our 'joy' is; what our 'passion' is, or what our 'work' is. Nor would we be able to value and appreciate it as much if it had not once been taken from us, if we had not once deemed ourselves unworthy of it, if our strength had not been sapped so perniciously by others.

'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' But what almost kills you can make you weak for a very long time afterwards. There is no indignity in trying to fight that fight, and giving up again and again and losing that fight again and again when it rears its head in other circumstances and misfortunes. There is no shame in failing again and again because the weapons you have left to fight with have got so worn down they are blunt and useless; the shield is dented, the helmet holed; your fighting heart is so weary and sad. None of that makes you a bad person. It does not matter if you couldn't do your job because you could not sleep the night before, or were literally afraid of your boss, or interacting with customers. It does not make you a bad person.

You are not bad because the weapons you were born with; your fighting spirit, your pride, your head held high, your cheek; all those things have got whittled away, eroded and thrown aside. For many of us, all that we had left to fight with was our raw spirit that had been trodden on again and again.

It does not make you a bad person because you can't explain yourself; because you get tongue tied; because your heart beats so fast at the simplest of things the fear strangles your throat and you have to hold a table real hard just to appear 'normal'.

It does not make you a person that you have no money left, that your paperwork is in disarray, that you can just about manage to keep body and soul together from one day to the next.

It does not make you a bad person that when others 'need' you that you're short tempererd; that what you really want to do is cry and curl up and sleep or die only you can't. You can't because somehow these others are saving you with their presence. Without you, they could not keep going. Without you, they would not know love. Without your short tempered moments, they would not have dinner and the loving moments. Because believe me they see you want to cry and give up and die, but they also see how your anger fuels you to keep standing; to find the tin opener and tin and bring the two together. You have just taught them how a soul, though it has already given up a hundred thousand times; how it persists. You have just taught them how to keep going when there's nothing left but raw will holding you together.

So you are not a bad person; I am not a bad person. Actually you are extraordinary. In those ordinary moments that absolutely no-one else notices or sees or values. That you can never give as an example of your strength of character because there have been so many of them and yet they were all so ordinary - there was nothing special about them you think even to yourself.

Those moments when you got up, stood up, carried on, kept going, lifted your head up, or just trudged on looking at the ground, or had tears falling down yourself while you pretended to be looking in the fridge for something. Or those moments when you went to the sanctuary of the bathroom for time out. Those nobody-else-knows-about moments. I want to say they're your extraordinary moments; they are something incredible.

That you who were so engulfed by pain, so that your body contorts and yet there is no escape, whether you curl up or straighten up; some internal and external meeting of agonies and yet somehow you created and 'afterwards'. You got up you wiped your face, you walked out every step laden by the same pain that just had you collapse to the floor or bed, or against the bath, or a wall, you walked out and you said 'Hello, how can I help you?' and 'Have a nice day'.

Those nobody-else-knows-about moments. I want to say I know about them. And you; you are amazing. And if you're amazing, then that must mean I'm amazing too and NOT a bad person whose everyone-should-know-about moments, nobody knows about, except us, because we were there. That 'bad person' we carry around inside of us that's torn at us, berated us, hurt us and degraded us; we've been carrying all along for them. We are that strong that we chose to carry the badness of others as our own.

So drop it...

And what happens when we lighten that load?

Joy happens and love because we are not and never have been 'a bad person'.

But maybe now we get to be bad ass...

Bad Ass - 'A person who defines supreme confidance, fearlessness, nearly divine abilty, and a frequent disregard for authority...'

And if that authority is unjust then that's the kind of bad ass that rocks. Because there is a hell of a lot of authority out there that preaches injustice as though it was a 'nice' thing and there is nothing nice about it at all. They're carrying our 'nice person' round as if it was their own and really, I think it's time we got it back...

Find your way out of Trauma:- The Survivor Warrior Workbook
This powerful workbook is used as a teaching tool with therapists, support groups and community education programs. It was inspired by Angela's Removing the Sword of Trauma events. It is for survivors, warriors, advocates, loved ones and supporters ready to move past pain and suffering and reclaim joy and happiness. You can use the workbook in a group, on your own or with your therapist.This workbook is 117 pages long and is a DOWNLOAD. Thank you for your commitment to healing BUY NOW $9.99

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