Baby Steps to Healing ...
January 11 today, and the positive, empowering, inspiring, exciting messages are still everywhere. All over social media. If trauma is still in heavy grasp of you, this may be just too much to bear. Are we tired yet? All that well meaning prompting, pushing and reminding - these are so great - if you are ready to make that step. And if you aren't? Well, then you're just as bombarded as everyone else, and it's more than likely each time you read yet another quote about how successful and joyful you're meant to be, it hurts. Deep within.
Two years ago, even last year still, I read the quotes, tweets, Instagram posts, facebook words of encouragement, intended to help and inspire action to move forward. The issue for me was, I couldn't. I could hardly stand the pressure of the new year, its imminent approach scared and stressed me throughout Christmas, as it loomed its monster head, screaming at me, "I'm coming! And you better be ready! You better do better, be more, find success, be happy you ...." All the things I could hardly even grasp the meaning of, as I was still struggling to survive each day - to breathe and to get through it. In fact, I began to feel bullied by these messages, they each reminded me just how unready I was to climb the mountains the rest of the world seemed so vibrantly ready to conquer. I was not. And I was both hurt by the reminders, and disappointed in my lack of progress. These well-meant messages caused only pain for me. I hid more within myself, and from the world.
New Year 2016, actually, I was on post op pain meds. I'd recently nearly died in recovery after emergency surgery to remove a grief induced cyst that grew to the size of a melon in a matter of a few weeks. Surgery went perfectly and was a success, but in post op I was fading. 45 minutes in surgery, three hours in post op, before I was allowed to be moved to a hospital room.
It was my youngest daughter's face that jolted me back to life, back to the warrior still within me, and I fought my way back to this world.
It is the memory of this surgery that has helped spur me to share any and all healing and wholeness ideas that work for me with the world, so you can hopefully avoid an incident like this.
Back to January 2016, I was on pain meds, and missed much of what was happening, and still, I recall seeing the messages of renewed intent, purpose, excellence, success, and so much more. Usually I love these, any other year I probably shared each one, or posted them myself in ignorance that these could be harming someone out there. If that was you, I deeply apologize.
Please hear me when I say do not feel badly when your insides curl into a tight ball every time you see these. You are grieving, you are healing. And that happens on your time. The change on a calendar does not dictate your process, or its timeline, please feel free to take the space you need. I hope you can find some relief in the fact that this moment is about you. Breathe, exhale, and know it won't last for ever.
I was fortunate enough to realize a key truth in these days of darkness - that any element of this process I chose to rush, would just return later. And I wanted my warrior back, I wanted my me back, so I tried hard not to rush. I had a therapist who's known me since childhood remind me of this a few times, who knew I was battling so hard to cope, to heal, to find wholeness again, and who intrinsically knew my spirit would return, and she knew how to offer at least this: the permission no one else was willing to provide. I remember the deep exhale of relief, my shoulders dropped a little, and I cried with gratitude. It was okay to insist on the space I needed for however long I needed it for.
Now that we've reclaimed our space, let's talk about what we can do during this time, when you are ready, and only then. And don't worry if you're there one day and then not for a week. That one day is about building muscles, and they need time after being worked out.
Okay, here are a few of my favorites:
* Walk barefoot in the grass, slowly, breathing, exhaling
* Color - those Zen coloring books can be really soothing. I like the pattern ones, and even did some with just a black pen. I'm not sure I ever finished any, but coloring allowed me to focus on something and enter a nearly meditative state, as I watched the patterns come to life. It was nice to focus on anything else.
* Take baths. Use your favorite oils and scents. This is a time to nurture your senses as your mind recuperates. Grab some water (so you don't get thirsty when you're in there for an hour) and enjoy the bubbles and scents as you read or let yourself just stare in to space until the water's cold.
The added benefit to baths at night is that your body is likely super tense from your inner struggle, a soothing bath can help your muscles loosen at least a little. Maybe even sleep, if you're lucky.
* Wear the softest clothes you can find. Remember, nurture all the senses. You deserve it.
* Take your softest pillows and have them ready to feel at night. They can provide comfort in the harshness of your now.
* Find your softest blanket and lay it on your pillow to sleep - surround yourself with tactile comfort. You deserve all the gentle, soft, and comfort you can give yourself.
* If you're ready, start a journal. No pressure on this though, promise yourself. Journals do contribute to deeper healing and are beneficial, but if the blank page feels cruel to you, just start jotting down words. Anywhere on the page, at an angle. Cross them out, circle them, do whatever you feel like doing with it. It's yours. If you want to doodle instead because words aren't there yet, then draw a few lines, maybe the grass you walked in earlier .... don't push it. If that's all there is, that's all there is. Find a smile at your progress. Conquering a blank page is a huge step forward! Ask any writer. Ask any PTSD sufferer.
* Music. If you're ready. I went without for months. Music is a huge part of my life, so this was odd in my case. I chose ocean sounds, soothing rain sounds ... these are healing for me. Music connects us to our soul, and if our soul is in debilitating pain, we may want to hold silence until we're ready. And then! Well then, pick what makes you feel alive.
* Yoga. There is a type of yoga, in case you're not overly familiar, called restorative. Being that the body is living the soul struggle too, it too needs to be nurtured. Restorative yoga is about stretching and putting oxygen in to your muscles ... so much more, but this was a huge helper for me. That said, I couldn't until about 3 months in to my recovery. Find free restorative relaxation yoga on youtube, so if you're not ready for the outside world, you don't need to venture out just yet.
* Beauty. What is your beauty? Is it nature? Is it painting? Photography? Next time you're walking in the grass, take your camera and start taking picture of the blades. You'll begin to find more beauty as you allow it in your awareness. One of the painful elements of trauma for me was that I could no longer see beauty. Finally I found my camera again, and went out and began to take random shots. There is a part of me that believes my camera opened the world up to me again. It ended up being a significant element toward healing for me.
Once I could see beauty again, I knew my hope would return one day too.
I'll share more in my next blog posts ... let me know if you try any of these and they work for you.
Sending you love and the ultimate reminder: You Are Not Alone.
Grief and Loneliness have the same address - I know. This is hard. And still, you are not alone. That's the theme in my next post :) (susbscribe and I'll send you the link as soon as it's up)