Tag: healing trauma

How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

How Long Does It Take A Wound to Heal

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, NYC

The wounds of childhood run deep. They run broad and wide and fester when they do not experience the light of understanding, of compassion, of acknowledgement, of love. Tears may be shed, cries and protests may erupt in the moments during or following an injury, but when unattended, the wound is covered up with ignorance, indifference or cruelty. The injury  is ignored as if it doesn’t exist, as if it never happened. The sands of time, layer upon layer, muffle the sound of the heartbreak, cause the bleeding to disappear from sight, but healing cannot occur. The bleeding and heartbreak continue on out of sight, underneath a layer of scar tissue.

I received a laceration to my hand in an accident, now four years ago, that has a left a scar. Shards of glass from the window beside me, the window I instinctively pressed my hand and arm against to brace myself as the car rolled…and rolled…sliced the tendon between my pinky and ring finger as it shattered against me on impact. Once the car came to a standstill and I found a small portion of my senses I knew I had suffered a serious injury to my hand though I could see nothing but blood. Somehow I knew that beneath the blood my fingers had been rendered useless. I even thought I had lost my pinky. It was instinct, out of sight awareness that led me to this conclusion.

The surgeon craftsman in the trauma center repaired the damage to the best of his ability though he had to be creative with what was left of the sinewy tissue. He enjoyed the challenge. I was grateful for his confidence.  After two hours of surgery, it took twelve weeks of bi-weekly physical therapy and home treatment  to regain some use. It took better than a year for the pain to stop and two years for me to stop being aware of the discomfort of the minor malfunction. This wound, was a simple, fairly obvious wound to attend to and heal, in the overall scheme of things.

The deeper wounds, the ones that are out of sight and remain unattended, discounted by ourselves or overlooked by those who have the power and awareness to help us heal, do not receive the treatment they need, the support of a team of experts, the attention of skilled rehabilitation specialists. We are left to carry them by ourselves, live with them and to attend to them in whatever way we can.

The accident left me with a TBI and PTSD. Both were not diagnosed or attended to in my post-accident medical treatment and it wasn’t until my hand began to heal that it came to my attention that I had been crippled in a far more significant way by the accident. I had not lost my finger but I had lost my life as I knew it,  my sense of security, my ability to trust myself or the world around me. I could not think. I could not remember things for five minutes. I could not plan or execute. I could not leave the house.

In that car, that day, I had been a sitting duck. I was a passenger in the car. I had no control over any part of my life. I was a victim just waiting to be victimized again. And, I was. Thank God. In spite of the pain and anguish I experienced during the years since, it does not compare to the anguish I suffered for a lifetime prior as I lived with buried wounds day in and day out, fighting depression, anxiety, self-doubt, deep, deep despair, fear, insecurity, uncertainty, failure, failure, failure. That accident shook everything loose in one fell swoop. I was turned inside out and upside down, literally and figuratively, my insides poured on the sidewalk to be picked through and inspected.

One by one, piece by piece, bit by bit, day by day I sort through and heal, sort through and heal. If the truth were told I’m still afraid to let go of the deepest numbness that replaced feelings too intense to hold, too lethal to bear. Yet, I know this is the only way to continue healing. One must open up the wound, must shower it with attention, understanding, and above all love, allowing tears to flow, anger to surge so that healing can take place. If we keep the lid on it, it we keep the bandage on the cut it is slower to heal and may never heal at all.

Ripping off the bandage is painful. It is best done with another, with someone who loves us and who can hold space for us. It is not something that can or should be done alone. Allowing love in is part of the healing process. Allowing others to care for us, to hold us and touch our hearts again is what we all long for. It’s what we all require.

So, how long does it take a wound to heal? It takes as long as it takes, but it begins when we take notice of the wound and give it the attention it requires. The healing process moves forward each time we shine the light of truth, understanding, love, acceptance and forgiveness on our hurting places. It ends when we no longer think about it.

A Child without Edges

A Child without Edges

art by Molly Brett
Fairy Artwork by Molly Brett – click on image for more info.

A childhood of abuse or neglect sets the stage for an adult who does not know who they are. Healthy boundaries are either a mystery or non-existent. They are either too rigid or too fluid. When we don’t know who we are, we may unconsciously cling to the rules and belief systems that were imposed on us as children, or we borrowed them from an external belief system such as a religion, a political party, or a social group. It gives us a sense of identity and security. It gives us the edges we are unable to create from within as children.

Or, we may exist without edges and live the life of an emotional and psychological amoeba. In this case, we allow whoever or whatever is in our life at any given moment to take up residence within us. We live in a constant state of reaction to, rather than action toward. Never having learned to validate our own wants, needs and desires, we wander aimlessly through life falling victim over and over again to the whims, desires and manipulations of those who don’t hesitate to tell us what our boundaries should be. The child who is ignored, drowned out, or in any other way taught to ignore her own inner voice and guidance, is a child without edges and a child doomed to suffer as an adult.

These two different reactions to abuse are a match made in heaven. They attract one another like iron to a magnet, perpetuating the chain of abuse in an endless dance. The rigid must constantly remind themselves and all with whom they come in contact, of what they believe and who they are. Beneath this drive is the unconscious fear that without constant feedback and validation they would crumble and disintegrate. It’s a life or death activity that keeps the veneer in place.  What better way to do this than to seek out those with porous boundaries, who are looking for their edges, who are willing to be influenced, and who have learned not to question or challenge?

If, however, we have the opportunity to see, sense or become aware of the ember of our real self that still glows in the recesses of our heart and soul, we can begin the exciting, albeit terrifying journey of self-discovery. We must go back and raise ourselves, give ourselves the adult guidance and structure that allows our inner child to blossom.

We once had our very own responses to life. We once had our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own deep physical and emotional expression of all that we are. We can have it again.

The disassociation I experienced after the accident was the most extreme expression of my own disconnection from myself, though it began much earlier. It is an utterly terrifying feeling to be without boundaries, to feel utterly powerless and helpless. How many children feel this way every day of their lives? How many of these children grow up to be deeply troubled adults?

As a victim of abuse or trauma, finding a connection to oneself is an ongoing challenge, but one that is not only essential but worth the effort. When we heal our own suffering, we stop the cycle. It’s time to stop the cycle of abuse.

In Search of My Edges

Still Learning

Righting the Ship

Righting the Ship

painting A Winning Yacht
“A Winning Yacht” by J.O. Davidson, engraved by W. Wellstood

It seems that it is time, well beyond time, for me to begin to gather my thoughts around all that has transpired in my life over the last decade. To offer what I have learned in case it comes in handy to you, dear reader, or someone you know. I don’t write here for my own aggrandizement. In fact, I often don’t write because I wonder what use another would find in my journey, and yet, I have learned so much from others. Perhaps my insecurity actually causes me to be stingy with my experience.

I’ve written much in the midst of my pain, but now that I’m in a clearing space I find my perspective is different, my view broader and broader by the day. I was listening to an audio by Andrew Harvey today and he talked about his “dark night of the soul”. He spoke of a specific experience that he considered to be THE dark night of the soul of his life, not just “any old dark night of the soul”. It made me wonder how one quantifies such a thing.

In many ways, I feel that my entire life was a desperate attempt to pull myself out of just such a place – I lived in the dark night way more often than not. And yet, my deepest despair, the closest I came to giving up and giving in came three years ago, when everything I had worked so hard to make happen in my life seemed to crash in on me…literally and figuratively. in spite of all of my efforts to do otherwise.

This time, however, I think I finally got the message that was trying to be sent to me. Or at least I am starting to get it.  It’s a multi-faceted, multi-dimension message that I will try to filter into some basic principles, truths and guidelines that might help you in your own journey toward a conscious life.

FIRST: The biggest and most useful step one can take to bring about change in one’s life is to seek one’s true, authentic inner voice. (I didn’t say it was going to be easy!) Finding our essential or core self takes some serious sorting through of all the voices and messages that exist and deciding what is what.  It’s not as obvious as one might think, or at least it wasn’t for me.

I listened to my feelings my entire life as if they were the gold standard for the truth.  I really thought I was listening to my true self. If I felt it, it must be real. Right? Wrong. Feelings are valuable, don’t get me wrong, but the psychology of my generation, elevated them to a height that was way beyond healthy. In reaction to the feeling deniers of our parents generation, it made sense, a necessary over-correction. The bad habit I had acquired from my training and reading wreaked havoc on my life. It wasn’t until I understood where feelings truly belonged in the overall scheme of things and began to put them in their proper place was I able to find some balance and some semblance of inner peace.

Just as harmful as being ruled by one’s feelings is mistaking one’s mind chatter for our true selves. More often than not, the mind chatter that directs our decisions and disrupts our self-confidence is chatter we acquired from our family of origin, the culture and the other significant people in our lives. Refusing to listen to this type of guidance takes us one step closer to finding our own true and authentic voice.

I deepened my connection to my essential self, my soul self, my real self through the practice of meditation and guided imagery meditation at the same time I was consciously sorting through the this-es and thats of my poor self-esteem using psychological and psycho-spiritual tools.  It’s a very fluid process, this strengthening of the core self and the quieting of the fear mongers in our psyche. It’s a push on this and pull on that until the ship begins to right. But it’s worth the effort.

BANISH THE DARKNESS
IN SEARCH OF MY EDGES
Gut It Out

Gut It Out

378a445020743408715c4111ffb81adaSometimes it just takes guts. Sometimes we can’t think our way to a solution. We can’t whine our way to the answer. We can’t emote our way to healing. Sometimes it just takes guts and putting one foot in front of the other and doing the thing we think we cannot do, facing that thing we think we cannot face.

I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve been gutting it out, head down, leaning into the pain. Pushing through, breathing the baby into the birth canal. She’s so ready to be born, so done with carrying the weight of the past, so ripe for life.

There’s a bit more pushing to be done before I can embrace the miracle of birth that will set her free, though it feels as though the hardest work is done. The months of sickness and burden, the trimesters of struggle and straining toward freedom and understanding.

A new consciousness has awoken. A new beginning is at hand. Birth, life, death. Birth, life, death. The cycle of life continues unfolding the fullness of you, the fullness of me. Lean into the pain. Gut it out. Let the birth take place. It simply needs your cooperation and above all else, your fearlessness.

REACHING

REACHING

ANTON PAVLENKO LANDSCAPE OIL PAINTER

REACHING

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my mind,

I found a tiny girl child, wrapped like a mummy

in wordless memories weightier than her

tiny shoulders could carry. Though carry she did.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my soul,

I found an embryo who bargained with the devil,

who gave up choice in order to live, an uneven exchange

that lasted nearly a lifetime. She kept her promise.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my will,

I found a stomping mad two-year old who knew

her own mind, and suffered the consequences

for the knowledge. She stomped anyway when she could.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my heart,

I found an innocent, carefree child with

a passionate love for all things seen and,

a deep reverence for that is unseen.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my body,

I found a source of energy and flow

that I never knew existed, for it had been

traded at birth…or before.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my spirit,

I found light and power, guidance and vision,

angels and guides  a thread through my life

never to be broken.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I put down the yoke of fear, set aside the sorrow,

and abandoned the dark rivulets of despair.

I cancelled the bargain with the devil.

*

Now, I no longer bend down. I reach up instead.

Outstretched arms, fingers pointing toward the sky.

I stand anchored, connected, grounded in the earth,

heart wide open, assembled.

All the important pieces collected.

Banish the Darkness

Banish the Darkness

Poem
“In the Middle of Nowhere”, A Poem by NARYABUTTERFLYLEAVE Click on picture to read.

I’ve come to see that when darkness resides in our soul it’s because we dare not look in the corners and crevices that contain our pain. We fear the darkness when we could choose to shine a light to banish it.  A self-protective mechanism no doubt. Still….

In recent years, I’ve more often chosen to shine a light in my dark places, when I see an opportunity.  They are so well hidden sometimes, so evasive and sneaky. I find it’s worth persisting. I poke and prod, track and wander until I am weary with the effort and then wonder if it is, in fact, worth the effort.

After a rest, at the dawn of a new day, I usually decide it is. Turning over one rock at a time, I have found a measure of freedom, a modicum of peace, a self-awareness that knows itself. What more can one ask? To stand firmer, and taller and more certain, and to have a little more of what it takes to tackle the uncertainties of life…and death…is a welcomed thing.

Caroline Myss, a modern-day mystic, sheds so much light on the workings of the soul and the energy and anatomy of the spirit.  This excerpt from her book was posted on her Facebook page today. I have found her words to be true.

“Every thought you have had has traveled through your biological system and activated a physiological response. Some thoughts are like depth charges, causing a reaction throughout the body. A fear, for instance, activates every system of your body: your stomach tightens, your heart rate increases, and you may break into a sweat. A loving thought can relax your entire body. Some thoughts are more subtle, and still others are unconscious. Many are meaningless and pass through the body like wind through a screen, requiring no conscious attention, and their influence upon our health is minimal. Yet each conscious thought—and many unconscious ones—does generate a physiological response.” Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit

I highly recommend Caroline Myss’ books to all who travel the path of healing.