Trauma Surprise and Resources

On the way to church yesterday, I shared with Dad my awareness of how difficult it is these days to get motivated to work on projects and chores in my house, life and work.

I reflected silently that I've been carrying an image of myself from years past in which I become almost like a tornado, tearing through my chores and errands, energized by the prospect of having my to-do list completed.

Continuing my inward thoughts, I'd been waiting for that tornado-that-is-me to manifest itself again. THEN I would get caught up on my backed-up piles of laundry, paperwork, dishes, outdoor chores, errands and lists of to do items for my business.

Returning to the conversation with my father, I also shared with him that I have slowly come to the realization that it will not likely be that way again. It's ok to content myself with baby steps, knowing that though it all may take longer, it will indeed all get done. That it will be ok.

As I spoke these words, a lump formed in my throat and my tears welled in my eyes. I had just named something both known and yet new aloud, aware of the letting go of something old and deeply entrenched. More time and space would be needed to process this in private, later.

Surprisingly sooner rather than later.

In church, the first Sunday of Lent brings with it the praying of the Confiteor, a confession.

Oh, how I struggle with the harsh words of this prayer:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore, I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.  

Without meaning to sound holier than thou, here's how I look at life: I believe God loves me unconditionally, and I live my life doing my best loving him back.

Also, seven plus years of extensive and comprehensive trauma recovery and healing taught me what REAL compassion and love look like. First and foremost, for the little girl that is me. Then for all God's children and all his creation.

Me perfect? Absolutely not. Me a sinner? Yes, when I push God away or purposely ignore his call for help in my encounters with others. Even then, our extraordinarily compassionate God sees our hearts and understands when we're trying our best, even when our best is none too good.

And so, when it's time for the Confiteor, the heartfelt prayer I offer up is a version of my highest truth:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

This morning, as the congregation reached the words,

through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault,

a passionate voice deep within me - the little girl that is me - suddenly and silently shouted no! no! no! no! And I just started crying, the kind of crying that wanted OUT. I excused myself to my father, saying I needed to go sit in the car.

Once inside my car, my crying turned quickly to sobbing, coughing, keening, waling and shaking all over. These typical physical reactions in Somatic Experiencing revealed to me that something(s) had triggered a trauma activation, that the best thing I could do was give my body's wisdom space and time to process and release trapped energy safely. I opened the windows slightly to allow fresh air in and released energy out.

The no-words releasing included no-words praying, me tightly clutching a small hand carved and buffed wooden cross designed with curves to be hand held. Because of its small perfect knot defect, I named it Wholely Holey Holy Lord. I held on to it for dear life for comfort and strength, so thankful for my long-ago decision to keep it in my car.

And I reached out for help. I messaged my therapist. I drew a mandala (part of my trauma healing process) on my iPhone and sent it to her so she would have a better idea of what was going on inside of me, and she texted back feedback that strengthened me. We would talk in an hour. In the meantime, I pictured her sitting next to me, supporting me.

The imagination is an amazing healing resource.

I started to journal, another resource in my trauma healing toolkit. This article completes what began in the car. 

My father and my brother the father (a priest, my pastor, a real blessing) both showed up for me after mass with compassion. As I drove Dad home, we talked a bit about my experience, and when I dropped him off he asked not just for a hug, but for a big hug, telling me he loved me. It meant the world to me, that love and support coming from him. So much healing there...

Late in the evening, my brother and I spoke briefly, sharing a special connection.

Somatic Experiencing, depending on the intensity of the work can be very energy consuming. I knew I would require extra rest, allowing for the limp noodle feeling this morning. Resting and working in bed, the cool wind blowing through the open windows, nourished my healing body, soul, and the little girl that is me today.

I thank God for my healing over the years. Yes, there are still surprises, unexpected triggers and activations that come from seemingly out of nowhere. They don’t frighten me like they used to.

I have a magnificent toolkit of resources. 

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