This week I learned a new component of the value in rest. Not just physical or mental rest. Resting in retrograde? What I’m trying to say is I’ve put some concerted effort towards having no more on my plate than a 5 year old would, and it’s been wonderful. I bought this lovely little coloring book from Pigment in North Park and went to town. It’s called “Hello Hipster” and it’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve done for myself this whole year. I’ll share some of my finished pieces with you here, so you can print them out and put them on your fridge next to a gold star. 🙂
No one ever talks about how painful healing can be. The word conjures positive connotations, which makes sense because you’re like, “getting better”. But the process – the road to “better”- is often so messy, ugly, challenging, awful… and I feel like I never hear about that part. Maybe I wasn’t listening, but in either case, I missed it.
Due to my Christian upbringing and countless hours spent in Sunday School, when I’ve thought of “healing”, the quintessential image I get is of Jesus walking through the streets “laying hands on the sick to be healed” (Somewhere in the New Testament). As though he’s walking around with a magic wand – except for instead of a stick, he’s using his hands – touching everyone as he goes by and they’re suddenly getting healed. Not unlike Oprah at the end of a taping: “and YOU get healing, and YOU get healing, and YOU get healing!”
Who knows, maybe that is how it happened. Jesus touched you and that very instant you felt better. The more I think about it though, the more I look at how healing has happened in my life and lives of people around me, the more skeptical I am of this microwave brand of healing. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a case of healing happen instantaneously, be it physical, mental, or emotional. I’ve seen it come as a process – a super slow, sometimes super painful process depending on how deep the wound is or how long it’s been there. So I’m like how many people touched by Jesus still walked away in pain or afflicted? How many of them didn’t see their healing come to fruition for months or years afterwards? If we’d included follow-up surveys in the Biblical canon, how could that have changed our perception of what healing is?
After my first trauma therapy session, I wrote to my best friends to tell them about it. One of them responded enthusiastically saying “Wow. This is healing!”
This is healing, I thought.
I mean she’s absolutely right, 100%. But as I considered it I was like, wait… healing feels like shit. If this is healing, I want my money back! I feel sad, I feel devastated, I feel crushed, I feel overwhelmed; I thought “healing” made you feel better, not broken. I’m thinking it’s like when the doctor has to break your bones to reset them so they heal properly. Technically the breaking is part of the healing process as well, but it did not heretofore fit into my cute Sunday School picture of what healing looks like.
It’s not magic. It’s not characteristically fast, and it might even involve causing further injury. The beginning and the middle can feel like someone’s broken all of the bones in your body. Healing can be complicated and chaotic, and leave you feeling absolutely spent. I mean in the end, they call it healing for a reason though right? The middle might be the worst but eventually it’s supposed to get better. So I guess we’ll just hold on to that through the breaking.
It gets better, It gets better, It gets better.
How must it feel to hear the phrase “You have trauma.”? Pardon? Excuse me? No, I have my own apartment. I have friends and a job; I went to good schools, I was never physically abused, I had nice clothes. I mean sure my parents split up, but the divorce rate is 50% — don’t everyone’s parents split up? I’m fine! Okay maybe not fine but like, I’m alright. I’m doing alright.
I know people who have suffered trauma. “Real” trauma, as I incorrectly term it. And I look at what they’ve been through and what I’ve been through and I’m like, cah-mahhhhhnnnn (read: “come on” in an especially incredulous tone). Trauma? Me? No way. But I guess the first mistake is comparing your situation to someone else’s, in anything really. It’s impossible. With how different we all are and how unique the lives we’ve led to this point are, it feels mathematically illogical to try to compare ourselves. It’s all apples and oranges, grapes and guava, kiwis and cumquats – there can be no comparison.
And apparently trauma in particular is a very subjective phenomenon. The 5 minute Google search I conducted yielded that trauma can be caused by a big overwhelming and/or terrifying event, or a number of smaller ones. Either way you land in the same place: feeling overwhelmed, helpless, scared, scarred.
I wonder how many of us walk around with this. I wonder how many of us walk around with this and don’t know it. Or actively deny it. How much latent trauma are we shoving under the rug because it doesn’t fit our prejudiced notions of What Trauma Looks Like, or Who Has Trauma? I would by no means call myself “accepting” at this point. Or even convinced. But denial doesn’t make a problem go away any more than closing your eyes makes you invisible. …Or does it?
Generally, I don’t much care for anger – I think it is a base emotion. I, as any other pseudo-intellectual won’t tell you, have this high-minded obsession with trying to replace real human emotion with intellectual theorizing and philosophical discussion. I think it was C.S. Lewis who once called humans “spiritual animals”, and I’ve found that I try very hard to distance myself from identifying with the latter. Yelling, sobbing, and other emotional outbursts are unproductive in my opinion; everything can be settled in a calm and rational conversation. When people talk about getting so mad that they see red or feel physically heated, I think to myself that they’ve simply allowed themselves to be bested.
Until this week. In a particularly rough therapy session, I experienced anger like I can safely say I’ve never experienced in my life. Not just anger, rage. Fury (get it? Like the title). I sat in my therapist’s office and felt so much violent wrath that I felt physically ill. Nauseous and hot all at the same time. Several times I thought “this must be how a tiger feels when they’ve fucking had enough”. This animalistic, unadulterated, consuming fire.
The fun (read: definitely not fun) thing I’m learning about emotions is that you feel them in your body as well. I woke up Wednesday (after my Tuesday session) feeling like I had gotten hit by a train. I felt hungover. And for a second I was like “did I drink last night?” Nope, just shifted from the grieving stage of Denial to Anger.
I looked up “fury” on the interwebs and Google reminded me of the Furies in Greek Mythology – three little fairy bitches who come from the underworld to Earth every once in a while to fuck with the wicked. Tisiphone (“Avenger of Murder”), Megaera (“Jealous”), and my personal favorite Allecto (“Unceasing in Anger”). In related news, I also learned that Fury is generally an emotion associated with women. You know, “hell hath no fury” and all that jazz. It’s probably because there are so many fuckboys acting like assholes running the streets. *sips tea*
Listen, I don’t know what to tell you. I feel like this post is disjointed and helter skelter, but it’s the most coherent thing I’ve been able to put together in the last few days. I almost skipped writing this week because I was too fucking mad but then I was like, nah, I’m gonna write about how mad I am! So here we are, that’s all I got, this was my week: I got fucking mad. I’ll be sure to write about the resolution or the softening, if and when it comes. Until then, if anyone knows where I can buy a cheap punching bag or have one of those Groupons for destroying an old house, I’d gladly take it.
So Monday was my 27th birthday (#OldAF) and I got drunk all weekend and hung out with my friends. Here are some of my favorites, featuring a new high leg cut one-piece that says DOPE on the front that I’m obsessed with. Also those Madewell jean shorts I bought instead of food last week. ENJOYYYYY! Oh and check out my Instagram for more pics from the weekend 🙂