Thursday, April 6, 2017

Trauma is for the Birds

My schedule is travel heavy right now.  Because I live the quintessential country wife life, I don't travel much farther than "town"... ever.  There's miles of wide open spaces right outside my window, and it feels so good.  My wanderlust is at an all-time low, and whenever it kicks up, I sit down with a hearty dose of BBC TV and all is well once again.

But I'm in the smack-middle of a travel fest (per my definition).  Lots of trips to the PHX area and one to SLC area -all for family celebrations: wedding stuff, baby blessings.  It's all good.
Except it's thrown me off big time.  I think maybe my chi or chakras or aura or something is off?  Or the moon phased?  Hippies, help me out here.

The good news is that recovery is saving my bay-cun.  Seriously saving it.  I'm hitting my dailies harder than ever, working to be daily accountable to a recovery sister for them.
#1) Prayer/meditate (I'm up to 20 minutes every morning, and it's doing wonders for my anxiety)
#2) Scripture study
#3) Eat ONE raw green food per day (after where I ended up in 2016, this goal is really shooting for the moon, believe me.  I was being literal when I talked about bacon earlier).
#4) Exercise (I added this one after supreme consistency with the other three for three weeks)

When there was huge family drama a few weekends ago, I was able to stay out of it and have my serenity *mostly* intact (I'm not super-human, okay?).
And last week, I was living a big-hearted small life where washing dishes felt meditative and rearranging my living room felt cathartic.  I have felt a soul-filling satisfaction that has washed my life with a calm that feels miraculous, and I found myself asking the Lord, "Am I allowed? To live this way?  It feels unfairly nice and I feel undeserving because I still struggle with loving my next door neighbor."
In Neal A. Maxwell's BYU Devotional from 1981, "Grounded, Rooted, Established and Settled" he said:
 But family life seems so ordinary now. Even so, some may still say, “Should I not be doing something else?” Ah, but that is not the real question! The real question is: “Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?” (Alma 29:6). That is the question.

I can say that last week, I had no desire to do more than the work to which I've been called today -and that work is dishes, cooking, serving my neighbors and -of course -my dailies.  Perhaps God wants to refine my patience, so my relegated tasks are routine, daily activities that run the threat of killing me with being FLAT, FLAT, FLAT.
I know that pre-recovery, it certainly felt that way.  I felt unseen by my husband and unseen every time someone puked on the sheet I'd just washed.  Even the trees were the enemy -showering leaves on the grass I'd just raked.

To feel that burden begin to lift as my perspective has shifted feels liberating.
It IS liberating.

But my schedule isn't liberating.  Though there be miles of open air and space waiting to be taken in front my kitchen window, there be no wiggle room in our budget or travel calendar. 
I feel the pinch, and I feel a bit more wobbly and ready for trauma to come visit.

My dailies have anchored me to Christ -or maybe anchored Christ to me? 
Even with them, and with Christ, trauma comes.  And it came, as the Grinch so wittingly observed, "it came just the same."

Sitting in my chapel (read: bathtub) I felt it physically ripping through me, and I recognized it.  I decided that now is the time to make friends with my friend that has chosen to lodge -without permission or consent -in my very own cells.  My body isn't playing host to my trauma... my body simply IS a host, like it or not.
It feels invasive because it is.

During my peaceful week last week, I hit on a podcast and listened to it 3x over (something I've never, ever done).
It's a really informative (borderline entertaining) podcast from On Being about how trauma lodges in the body:

I didn't know when I was listening to that podcast that a big trigger was just days away, but God did.
Thank God for God -amIright?

And as I sat in my tub and let the trauma come in, I made a decision to let the trauma in FULLY.  I scraped my schedule clean and just sat it out.  In the days leading up the trauma, my body was sending me messages.  This is FANTASTIC because my body has felt utterly cut off from me since I hit my rock bottom.  But it had been SPEAKING to me. 
The pattern in my life went like this:
My husband betrayed me and then I betrayed my body, and someday I'm going to write a book called "Porn and Oreos" and fill it with every gritty, betraying detail.  Suffice to say: my body doesn't trust me just as I don't trust my husband.
But lately, it has said things to me like, "one more apple" and "let's go for a walk" and "mmmm ginger."
So you can imagine the pain I felt when my body slammed the door in my face after the trigger hit.  I couldn't HEAR my body anymore.  Nothing was getting through!  I couldn't even move my breath past my chest.  The last message that had come through before I was triggered was this:
"Good morning, beautiful day for sushi."
And so it came to be that I was fixated on sushi because I didn't know what else to do with myself.

One big problem is that there's 80 miles of good highway between me and closest sushi joint, so with a little perseverance on my husband's part, Nori and Friends were secured and we made our own.
Nori and mango and avocado and cucumber and green onions and cream cheese.  It was glorious.

The next day was General Conference.  After the first session, I napped.  It's amazing how a big trigger can feel exactly like running a marathon.  It just hangs on, doesn't it?
After the second session, I noticed my 4-year old putting on her tennis shoes. She filled up her Beauty and the Beast water bottle and headed out the open front door into the brilliant Northern AZ spring afternoon.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Oh mother," she said, "I'm going to enjoy the birds."

She's my ONLY child who calls me that, and I never, ever correct her.  Who would?!

"Can I come?" I asked.

When trauma comes around, I can't find my toes.  I can't make a connection between my legs and my brain.  I forget I have fingernails -so you can imagine how in touch I am with the rest of the world.  The week prior, I had FULLY enjoyed the birds during my meditation and prayer in the morning... they really are so brilliant this season.  The birds' song is wakeful, an anthem for the season.  They sing and kids ride bikes where they weren't riding them a few weeks ago.  They sing and blossoms flourish and bloom.  The sing and the world stretches, wakes and gets back to sunshine.

And so my Alice answered the call, and I went with her. 
Being still and sitting with trauma isn't easy, but I've found that for me -it is the best way: let it move through while I find the line where my body and spirit connect again.  Is it called a Soul Line?
Maybe.  Maybe "Soul Line" will be the title of my second book?  *insert winky emoji*

The trigger is lingering, I can feel it. 
But my body is starting to open the door it slammed in my face (maybe because I stuck my foot in? and that's why I couldn't feel my toes?)

So here's to dailies and herbal tea and birds.
And kids who call me Mother.


  1. This rocked. I love how you allowed the trigger to move through you and not railroad you. Awesome work. And now I want sushi.

  2. I'm bookmarking this post, it's that good. Thanks <3