|IMAGE CREDIT: https://pixabay.com/en/maid-maiden-fence-countryside-498254/|
As I sit at my computer with freshly brewed coffee and a brightly lit grass-scented candle and look back at the last ten years of my life… they are undeniably much different than the thirty before.
After leaving the women’s conference near the Shenandoah Valley, I stayed in touch with the speaker from the retreat. It wasn’t soon after attending that conference, that my husband and I visited her office for an intense 3-day counseling session. There, I found a safe room, someone who could ask the right questions and answer questions. I found support on this new, lonely and scary journey. There, my journey became real.
Over the next several years, I saw a therapist in my town. She didn’t really talk about the repressed memories that surfaced with the first therapist, but I began to learn about disassociation (coping with trauma by not living in the presence) and co-dependency (emotionally relying on others for stability and decision-making). Through those years in therapy, I became much more aware of who I never knew I had become. I realized that I had become highly dependent and easily controlled by my husband, my kids, my surroundings and my circumstances over the years. She would ask, but I couldn’t answer the question of who I was. Week after week she would ask, “Who are you?” and I had no answer! Slowly, I was able to begin to develop the ability to think for myself and the courage to rediscover who I was.
Since I was not working during this time in my therapy, I began to read books. Because of a sever learning disability, it was one of the first times in my life that I was able to comprehend and remember what I read – so, I kept reading. I watched and listened to inspirational speakers, who themselves had been abused as girls. I joined a group of women who had been abused at varying times in life.
I was so thankful for a support group of women who would trust me with being a part of their stories. They were accepting and loving to me. But, despite being in blessed company, the “me abused” and “me not abused” where still two different girls. Despite the support I was experiencing from my mentors, I was very alone. I wasn’t on the same journey as the other women… well, maybe a similar journey, just different paths. They had years of memories of abuse and I only had a hand-full of snapshots. In many ways, honestly, I felt like a baby. Although I was able to relate to their personality traits, the specific circumstances they endured and similar life-long struggles, I felt that they weren’t where I was anymore… they had passed me by in their stories and a connection had been broken.
Let me tell you, how this realization affected me…
I have always loved storms… the serenity of fresh rain on a window screen is my favorite. I love the smell of rain (and grass scented candles – although, you already know that). Anyway, I am sure I would have never guessed (or planned) what journey would be brewing as my life’s byline. Ironically, during this time of my life, I began finding comfort in storms – more so than before… but, for a different reason. Not just because of the intrigue of their abrasive behaviors or their moments of calm, but the symbolism that storms bring life to the deserted and that would allow me strength in fighting to find a voice. Rain… the thought of it released loneliness and relaxed my fears.
Because of the level of abuse and repressed memories I was experiencing during that time in therapy, I didn’t have words to say. I was often in bed for days unable to move with disassociation (separating the mind from the body, in protection of a threat or trauma) that would take over my body. I couldn’t attend church for a period of time, fearing that I would freeze and everyone would see me, as I was seeing life from inside (which had happened several times). (It was extremely embarrassing…. like having a mental health seizure.) But, during this voiceless period, I began to find healing through typing. (Or, maybe is it called keyboarding now). For years it hasn’t been easy for me to write by hand, ever since sixth grade. Not only did an undiagnosed learning disability exasperate my ability to communicate, socially interact, comprehend and test verbal and written word, but my handwriting was illegible and was (is) as inconsistent as my circumstances. But… typing!!! When I type, things I never have thought to think float from my soul to the tips of my fingers.
It was in journaling at the computer that I began to find a voice – in the midst of a raging storm for my sanity, safety, healing, freedom and soul.