If ever there was a day that I felt changed, it was the day I walked into therapy and smiled. Just smiled. I had nothing new to talk about. Nothing new to report. I talked about my new life. My new me. So many possibilities were opened up. I wondered often, “I’m through the dark tunnel. Do I still need a therapist?” Yes. She no longer held me up on my feet. Now she showed me the paths I could take.
Those who experience trauma learn to live under its influence and fear. You learn to base every emotion, every decision, every choice first by consulting that trauma. You develop mental programming and mantras that nurture that trauma. This becomes your lifestyle. You breathe, eat, and live this trauma until you are nothing but a slave to its shadow and you can’t find you anymore. This is where prejudice is born. This is where hatred is born. This is where judgement is born. And this…dearest reader…this is where our own enslavement begins. Living in this kind of a mind is very much an enslavement.
Going back to step #1: Accept you are wrong is also applied to this stage. All conclusions are based on a series of premise. Proper conclusions rely on two things: correct execution of logic and reasoning, and correct premise. Many people draw correct conclusions using false premise. Your premise just might be wrong. Accept it. Once you do that, you rid yourself of a closed mind. You rid yourself of prejudice, hate, and judgement. You open your mind to curiosity and a willfulness to learn and reshape your mind. This requires only one thing: vulnerability. And yes, you will feel very vulnerable. Every bit of your past has taught you that A is B when it’s really A. Why should you believe any different? Because your situation was traumatic. Abnormal. Not the norm. This is the very definition of trauma. If it were normal you wouldn’t be traumatized, now would you? But you are hurt, because it is abnormal…making your conclusions only based on the trauma and your experience…your unusual rare, horrible, experience. Accept your conclusions are wrong and acknowledge the vulnerability that comes with treading new territory. Trust your new environment. Trust yourself to recognize the danger this time. Trust the strength and wisdom within yourself, and trust that you have the strength and the courage to never allow yourself to be hurt again.
“I will not let you hurt me.” Let this become your new mantra as it is mine.
Once you accept that trust and embrace it, only then can you bypass that vulnerability and embrace an open mind.
Relearn the world around you. Experience it again for the first time. Relearn your likes, your dislikes. Return to your youth—to the moment when you were first traumatized and regrow yourself from that point with a new path. Go forth with the mind of a child.
My first trauma happened when I was five. My next trauma happened when I was eight, and the next, when I was fifteen. Again when I was 21. With my mental cleansing, I returned to five and continued my life where it left off at that moment. I cried like a child in my husband’s arms. I sought the warm comfort of my daddy. I cried in my mother’s arms. I relived my adolescence and began painting my nails and wearing colors again. I started exploring with perfumes and lotions. I did what every fifteen year old should do, and I did what I didn’t do then. I felt myself grow up the right way this time. I went on dates with my husband and began watching chick flicks.
I stopped training my mind for war. I stopped preparing my body for battle. I was changing ever so quickly. Almost too quickly. Yes, it was scary. Yes, there was many a day where I didn’t know who I was anymore. Did I like cats? Did I love Ireland? Did I love gardens and music and art? Did I love the opera? Did I ever love Raven? I just didn’t know anymore.
There was one day I walked into my therapist’s room and I said, “I just don’t know who I am anymore. The pain is gone. The scars are healing, but who am I? I don’t even know if I love Ireland anymore!”
She asked me, “Tell me about Ireland. What did you love about it?”
I glowed and grinned so wide. “The green and the sea. The cliffs of Moher…If ever there is still magic in this world, it is in Ireland. Och! There is this one picture I have of Moher… Many pictures show you looking down the west banks of Ireland, but you’re facing South, so it looks like The Cliffs of Moher are to the east of Ireland. But they’re not. This one picture I have shows the view as if you are facing North. So beautiful.”
My therapist smiled. “Angela. You love Ireland. It doesn’t matter why. You just do and that is all that matters.”
I love cats and rain and music. I love reading and writing and gardens. Through our loves we define who we are. And just like that, I found me buried beneath all that trauma. But my journey still wasn’t over.