I used to measure my level of healing by the level of detachment I could tell a piece of my story with. I remember looking past people, into empty spaces that didn’t hold bodies with flesh and eyes that could connect me to my own body. I would read a poem on rape and stare at a chair, observe the crown moulding on the wall, stare at a painting. I would say something horrific and watch the words dance out of my mouth, twirling and swirling into the room.
I could tell parts of my story as if they were not my story at all. They were just a story I was reciting. My mouth would shift into autopilot and full sentences would pour out of me while I stood as a bystander, forcibly disconnected. Crying was a sign that I was not over the traumas at all. I was determined to be over these traumas….. without ever having to deal with them. I told them to convince myself that I was healed.
I guess by that age I would have already been a Master of Disassociation. I had learned how to take myself out of my body and away from my experiences in order to survive them. When I could not remove myself from the trauma the words and voices started to trickle in. At first a babbling brook. You know they say that each water source has it’s own spirit or personality? Well, not all of them are good. I had the bad kinds, the real bad kinds. A small stream of chatter that would end up becoming a raging river and threatened to sweep me away. It was at these times I had to seek outside of myself to survive.
Liquor. Cocaine. Food. Men.
My hands sought. My hands found.
I can recall being snapped back into my body while sitting in a counsellor’s room sitting in a scratchy brown chair that had made it through the 80s. I tried to tell something from a detached place, brushing it off like it was nothing. A cautionary tale that happened to some girl, somewhere, who wasn’t in the room. I fucked up though and looked her in the eyes as I was telling this horrible brutal story of assault that I had only told once or twice before. She was a hard woman, my counsellor. I was actually kind of scared of her fierceness and softness didn’t seem to be a part of her characteristics. There would be no honey and aloe with this woman. So I told a story and my eyes locked with hers and I saw the tears well up in the eyes looking back at me. I witnessed the flash of pain and sorrow held in her brown eyes. My spirit jumped back into my body and I wept.
I wept for days.
Stories connected themselves back to my flesh.
Stories were called back to me in the middle of the night.
The stories stood outside of my bedroom window, awaiting their moment to be returned to me.
And… I wept.
Sometimes I wailed.
The stories kept coming.
They did not kill me.
That was over six years ago.
They still find me when I am least expecting it. Last night I sat with my grandmother in the emergency hospital room waiting for her results. After five hours of listening to beeping and buzzing in the corridor I closed my eyes. They were waiting for me there.
Sometimes stories flash by like the scenes in movies where people are about to die and they see their life played out. My traumas have curated a wonderful slideshow to present at random times.
Oh you’re brushing your teeth? Might I interest you in a flashback?
Waiting at this stoplight is a perfect time… there’s enough time. There is always enough time.
I can step outside of them now. I can see the movie screen of these picture shows as if I am in a darkened theater and simply declare, No.
Sometimes it takes more than one No. Sometimes it takes a prayer. But now they dissipate and they no longer hold the emotional charge of when they first connected to my body. I no longer measure my healing by disconnection. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don’t. I no longer measure my healing by disconnection. That deserved a repeat. My ability to tell a story to go away, and for it to listen to me, is rooted in the knowledge that I have already worked through it, spent time with it, and chosen to heal from it. The story is no longer allowed to throw me for a backspin. I am okay. I am safe. I am in my power.
Even by telling this story… here… now… I wondered, “Will people think I am obsessed with traumatic stories and sad shit and need to move on with my healing?”
This isn’t their story though, it’s mine. These are my realities that I have to navigate every day, (more like every week now and less as time moves forward), in order to find peace and presence within myself. I am okay in being honest with where I am at and what my spirit is currently processing and moving through.
We learned to be ashamed of trauma and of hard stories. We are taught to be fearful of playing the victim card, given we live in a world that likes to throw the victim label on people in general. We fight against being labeled a victim. We talk about people being obsessed with poverty and trauma porn as people consume writings from the privileged spaces on the upper rungs of the hierarchy. But how does this work in regards to silencing people in these hard spaces from telling their stories?
I have no answers here. I am openly and exploring in this moment.
I don’t write to entertain. I write for myself. I write because maybe someone somewhere finds themselves here in these lines.
Maybe you’ve got a story.
Maybe it’s like my story.
Everyone has a story.