Mediation is the undoing of trauma. Yoga is mediation for your body. – Angela B. Chrysler
I feel it. The end of my journey. The end. Something you never quite recognize until you can look back and see just how far you’ve come. Something you never quite recognize until you can look ahead and smile. Not a facial smile that results from being happy in the moment. A deep smile filled with more than just hope. Excitement. An eagerness to move on, with a contentment for being where you are. But most importantly, being able to look back and say, “Yes. I survived that. And I’m okay.” I dream often now. Calm dreams. No rapes. No villains. When I do confront a villain, it is just that. A confrontation. I am no longer the victim filled with fear. I am a fighter. I dump all my thoughts and rage onto the villain through dream. I hold nothing back. I can feel Angel—my subconscious—talking me through it in the subconscious mind of my subconscious, “Keep talking. You’re safe. He won’t harm you. Keep talking. Don’t stop.” Those are the words Angel says now. No more screams.
I can see my change penetrate the family, my children, my husband. They laugh more, play calmly, are more polite. They care about their grades and school. They do chores now. The home is comfortable and clean. My children are no longer filled with uncertainty and fear. My son often thanks me for protecting him. Mostly, I see the change penetrate me. I am not shy about standing up for my beliefs. I have courage now. I can not begin to explain how good the courage feels. I can talk to strangers in a store. The anxiety is gone. I can talk to men and not fear rape. I can confront my family, my brothers, my sister. And I can do all of this without worry of fear or rejection.
There are no right or wrong paths anymore. There is only healthy paths and unhealthy ones. Health. It’s amazing how much trauma takes away from health, both mental and physical.
My biggest change is my attitude toward my body. It’s been through so much. It’s funny, I parented my cats to compensate for all the abuse they suffered. “You lived a horrible past. You will now know nothing but joy to compensate for that past.” Why couldn’t I extend that same thought to my body? Instead, I punished my body. I danced to rip it apart. I danced to punish my body. I starved it then shredded it through exercise. I neglected it then deprived it of nutrition and sleep then pushed it always past the point of pain.
Today, I wake up and think, “What can I do for my body today?” I walk. I give it sunlight. I eat right. Exercise gently. I don’t dance anymore. I’m more conscious of low impact and high impact activities. I swim instead. I’m wanting to take up Tai Chi and Karate. I’ve always wanted to study karate. Ever since I was ten years old. Aikido. I’d like to do Aikido too.
Every morning now begins with mediation followed by yoga. I got myself to a doctor and am now seeing a physical therapist for my back. The 25 years of dancing abuse I placed on my body has taken its toll. I wonder often if I have become a Buddhist. Yesterday, I shook my head. I don’t know what I am. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is what I believe. Perhaps that is the problem with religion. It teaches us, encourages us to label. Through labels, we gain hate. Labels build walls between an “us” and a “them.” Stop labeling. Stop judging every moment as good or bad. Stop labeling everything that you see and hear.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare’s words ring clear. Maybe this is what he really was talking about.
I decided not to call myself anything. I am simply “Angela” and I have my beliefs. It doesn’t matter where those beliefs belong. Beliefs are not classes in a biologist’s lab. Nor are our differences for that matter. Perhaps…perhaps that is where healing begins: in letting go of the labels. “I was hurt.” Does it matter what kind of hurt it is called? Does it matter the names of the mental results? I suffered and survived. It was traumatic. It hurt. Does it matter that we measure that hurt? Yes. I believe so. I believe it does matter that we acknowledge the amount of hurt. It does not matter that we call it “trauma” although maybe this label helps us reach awareness. And that alone is all that matters, awareness. Awareness is the door to healing. Awareness requires only three things: An open mind, a new perspective, and the courage to have both. Such power exists in the words, “I was wrong.” Such power. Only then are we at our strongest.
I smile and nod.
Today is going to be a good day.
About the Author
Angela B. Chrysler is a survivor of prolonged trauma including, but not limited to rape, physical abuse, domestic violence, pedophilia, sexual torture, and animal abuse. Above all else, Ms. Chrysler is a creator of music and the written word. She adores philosophy and turned to writing novels as a catharsis, as a way to cope and define her trauma. After writing Broken, Ms. Chrysler reached awareness and began her road to recovery. Today, she strongly embraces a calm life and does everything in her power to give back to the earth. She is determined to create a wave of positive and calm through those around her to counter as much trauma and pain she has endured. She lives in a garden with her husband and children.