I came back to this blog to write and tell the story of things. I don't think what I've been through and lived is that unusual and maybe just maybe if I hold up a lantern and light the path, it might be the bit of light someone needs. So if there is truth telling to be done, I think it needs to be the real truth, not just the quick story of a woman who left a bad marriage to start over but the real story of how someone creates a life that feels like exactly what they meant to do.
I have spent this last year in struggle, I've actually spent so many years in struggle but this has been especially hard. I honestly thought when I packed my little car and followed the moving truck westward that I was ending the hard part, that freedom and peace were now mine. What I didn't know was I had also packed up a whole carload of trauma and triggers. I didn't know that struggle still had some things to say to me and that there was some hard hard work ahead. Shame, guilt, regret and grief were waiting for me in my new hometown ready to unpack and move in with me.
Texts from my almost ex although seemingly benign triggered gigantic anxiety and physical reactions, I was confused by why something simple felt unsafe and caused such a panic. Unfamiliar situations especially with crowds of people also brought on emotional and physical responses. I didn't even understand because on the outside I was portraying "Look at Me!! I'm the brave girl who left that bad situation and I'm so much happier now." which was true... but what was also true is I had years of trauma brought on by abusive manipulative behavior that I allowed and normalized. Not physical (let me be super clear about that) but shaming, blame, disrespect, gaslighting, manipulation, financial abuse, lack of affection, emotional abandonment and belittling my entire being. If I was vulnerable, it would be used against me, I was not given even a tiny bit space to grieve my parents. Anger could come over the smallest of small things and it came at me as rage. The load I carried for the household was everything except doing his job, I did mine and was expected to put everyone else first, never asking for anything for myself. I am not going to ever give examples of these things but make no mistake it was abuse. The things I did to cover and pretend that my life was not what my life was and the things I missed or didn't see and how I failed to protect people I love, those are my greatest source of shame and sadness. I am angry at myself for ever stepping into relationships that were not in my own best interest and how I handed away my own self...I am doing the deep examinations of how and why that was my pattern.
So yeah.... trauma came in like a freaking wrecking ball...I didn't even know I had trauma until trauma had its way with me. My nervous system has spent most of my adult life on high alert, the fight or flight response (in my case freeze) was always engaged causing high levels of cortisol to course through me at all times. I didn't sleep well, I never could just relax or trust that the ground beneath my feet wouldn't shift, always waiting for the other shoe to drop and it always did. And here is some deep truth.... I have been married twice for over 40 years and never have I felt safe of loved and when I say safe, I mean accepted, cherished and respected. Processing that bit of truth took me down to the floor. I chose people as my life partners who couldn't or wouldn't give me that. Love and emotional safety. That is on me and I'm working my way through the way I handled relationships and choices, I own my part in my own sadness.
So my first order of business was to dig where the pain showed up. A trauma trigger tells me that I have to get on my hands and knees and dig in the dirt until I can find it and pull it out by the root. That happens through free flow journaling, body movement (it's all stored in my body, that was also a fun discovery), sleep, good food, sunlight, nature and things like yoga and somatic exercises that release the trauma, opening up hips and releasing tension with practice. Facing it all head on as I am able, one piece at a time is my work these days. I was with friends a couple of weeks ago, having cocktails and the best dinner sitting outside on a beautiful night and suddenly I shut down. I didn't even know what was the deal, this was a great time with people I trust and love. The next day, I slept in, did some body and breathing work, wrote some stuff down and had a good breakfast. When my friends and I came together at noon the next day, I let them know what had happened. I didn't even know while I was in the middle of it, I'm learning to recognize what sets off things. Also, learning what to do about it.
Now for the tricky part. I do not want my life to be in the victim energy as I have done the last too many years. I want to use what I know, manage trauma and triggers and not let it all have their way with me when they feel like it. I want to pivot and rise. I want to thrive and find my power, maybe for the first time ever. Stand in my own light and also light the way forward. I don't want what has happened and been my pattern to be what I choose now. I cannot carry the load shame and guilt and sadness along with where I am going. It would be easy to fold and hide but that is not what I came here for. I will use my voice and my kindness and my deep way of loving, that is how I plan to take my power. I think truth telling sets us free, I think the way through the pain is through the pain, I think the logs that fall across our paths are there to climb over not stop our walk. And telling the story is the way but not letting the past story be my whole being.
I hope you stay with me; I have things to say and I do not plan to shy away from what isn't so comfortable, but I also know that in every bit of discomfort comes the opportunity for love, connection and healing. That's why I'm here. I'll soon be divorced (at long last, it's been an exercise in patience for sure) and when all the paperwork is done, I will maybe say more but maybe it's just not about him anymore, in fact it's for sure not about him. I think it's time to learn how to fly just a bit higher.