Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Disintegration of My Trauma-Induced False Persona

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I met with my therapist today.  So much has unfolded in the last mere eight days that I actually did not even share all the most salient points when I did my check-in at the beginning of the session.  Here is something of a brief recap of the last eight days.

I met with my physical therapist last Thursday, December 19th.  At the end of my session I had a very amazing insight.  It's all the more amazing because I currently have no medical documentation that could substantiate my belief.  Near the end of my session last Thursday I saw a statement blazing in my mind's eye.  It read: 'My mother had post-partum depression'.  To conclude such a thing based on my very old memories from my own infancy seems an incredible conclusion to make.  But when I sit still and listen to my own inner knowing I feel this conclusion is true.  I have been trying to sit with this thought (among others) this past week.

Last Friday was a bit less eventful.  A visit with a local osteopath gave me no additional compelling information to follow regarding care of my left foot.  I have since requested another referral with the assistance of my current physical therapist at HCMC's Parkside Alternative Medicine Clinic.

This past weekend I attended a variety of holiday events.  I enjoyed myself and felt generally less anxious.  Then came another unexpected event on Sunday.  A heated argument on the bus I was taking through downtown Minneapolis turned physical.  This took place on the #5 bus; this bus line is somewhat notorious for offering some of the less savory aspects of human behavior.

This incident was a rather perfect trigger to activate fear and anxiety.  As the incident ultimately escalated into a physical fight I could feel fear and anxiety build within me.  I wondered if suddenly someone would brandish a gun and blood would start spilling soon thereafter.  Just as in my childhood when an escalating series of incidents (which culminated with my father's near death) went unacknowledged by those closest to me so did the escalation on this bus this past Sunday go unheeded by the driver until fists were being thrown.  I ultimately did not stick around to see the final outcome; as soon as fists were flying I was escaping out the back door of the bus.

It's clear to me from my past therapy that my capacity to trust others was significantly harmed by the traumas from my earliest years.  But what wasn't clear to me until much more recently (thanks to EMDR therapy) was that the trauma had literally affected my brain function.  I did not suffer a brain 'injury' per se but the memory of these traumas was never successfully addressed in past therapy.  Thus did I find myself in therapy yet again.  I am convinced that the EMDR therapy technique is the primary component of my current life that is helping me to heal in a way I never have previously.  Everything else about my current therapeutic process mirrors past interventions.  In past therapy I took medication and did talk therapy.  I am doing the same now.  But now I am also doing EMDR therapy.  This is the only new variable...except for the fact that I am now older and also at least somewhat wiser!  It is a bit weird to be able to say to my friends and family 'Hey, guess what!  My brain works differently than it ever has before!' These are not exactly words you hear every day.

Humiliation is one of many feelings I have gone through these past six months.  To raze so much of my past life to the ground and start anew at the age of forty is not exactly a fun process.  Indeed, many days it has felt excruciating.  To commit to refashioning my life in such an intensive way was not an easy choice.  But it has been an extremely necessary choice.  And despite the layers of pain I am still going through it has been worth it overall.

As I have continued my therapy as well as faithfully pursued the other many activities in my weekly life I have begun to witness the disintegration of what I call my 'trauma-induced false persona'.  My real personality is beginning to shine through more and more.  The clutter of sadness, anger, grief and confusion that is the predictable residue of untreated trauma is gradually disappearing.  Never in my life have I felt as good as I do now.  I cannot recall a time when my mind was so sharp, my body so relaxed and my disposition so hopeful.

Though I was beginning to improve this past summer it seems the acceleration of my healing process did not really manifest until November.  Doing a soul retrieval process with a local shamanic practitioner seems to have been another foundational experience.  Now, as I begin my seventh month of therapy I can feel this expansive horizon of possibility opening before me.  Anything seems possible in my life now.  And the expansiveness of this horizon of possibility is both exhilarating and confounding.

Yesterday, on Christmas Day, I chose not to call my father.  Though it might seem ironic this was a huge step forward for me.  I will admit the thought did go through my mind more than once to call him.  I still love my father despite everything that has happened in the past.  But I also admit I now wonder if I ever really saw an accurate presentation of who my father fundamentally is.  I wonder how much of what I experienced of him was merely a persona not reflective of his true self.  I might never really answer this meta-question.  And I feel sad when I contemplate such an eventual outcome.  I have come to believe you cannot force people to tell the truth when they are committed to avoiding painful memories at all cost.

I sense that 2014 will be an amazing and productive year for me.  I am excited about new horizons opening to me.  In honor of the coming of a new year of life and possibility I am including below some tips to improve your health:


As 2014 nears I am excited to share some insights I have gained throughout the last six months of my recovery process from PTSD. Consider what follows a healthy laundry list of actions to take to make 2014 your best year ever:

1) Exercise. We human beings are not designed to live without it. If you sit at a desk job 40 hours per week you are at greater risk of health issues. Once I go back to work you can be sure I will not have such a job. Have you ever thought about how it's only in the last two generations or so that so many people began sitting on their butts all day as part of their 'job'?

What you do for exercise doesn't matter so much as that you exercise. If you get bored with what you are doing try something new.

2) Something new. Are you stuck in a rut in which you feel like you are on auto-pilot? Try something new and different. Join a new club, change your daily rhythm, take a trip to a place you have never seen before.

3) Vitamin D. Here in the north it is essential. I cannot even begin to describe the difference in my health between now and last winter. Though I have made many changes I am confident being on a Vitamin D prescription has been one essential key to my improved health.

4) Get your health screened. Do you get an annual physical? When was the last time you had a check-up? If you are feeling 'off' there is probably a good reason to explain it. What that is might be challenging at first to discern. But believe me when I say that six months into my process one of the most important qualities to cultivate is endurance/commitment. American society is fundamentally an impatient culture. But there are no drive-thru's for the quality of life many people crave. If you really want to be happy and have a great life you must learn diligence and patience. "All good things to those who wait"

5) Learn more about your family and historical background. I did this as a student of Naropa Uniervsity. Learning more about my heritage was not only incredibly fun but also personally healing. It's my opinion much of the neurosis/hatefulness/stupidity in American culture comes in part from the trauma many of our families experienced when they first came to America and became Americans. Do you know where your ancestors came from?

6) If you feel deeply off consider the very real possibility that something most serious may be amiss. Do you have trauma in your life history? Does your family have intergenerational trauma? Are there aspects of your family and its members' behavior you simply cannot make sense of? There may be a deeper story to explore. Revisit what I said in #5.

7) Be mindful of your words and thoughts. One of the reasons I did not get suitable treatment until recently was due to the fact that what I had was not labelled in a way that led me to be more proactive. If I had been told in my 20s that I had PTSD I would have been much more proactive about my health as the word 'trauma' sets off a red flag in my mind whereas terms like depression and anxiety, while significant, do not prompt me to respond in the same way.

8) Find a creative outlet. Exercise is one fun way to express your creative energy. I also maintain a blog as another outlet. Is there something you did once upon a time that was great fun but you gave it up for reasons that now seem ridiculous? Consider the possibility that there is wisdom in your earlier life to mine now.

9) No matter what you might think, at least in my opinion, we do not have the right to decide how other people get to feel. True freedom comes when we respect each other's perspectives even if we completely disagree with them. One person's trash is another person's treasure. Foisting your own perspective on some other person or group of people and expecting that to go over well isn't the wisest thing to do. I think one of the strangest phenomena I have ever witnessed in America is the people who belong to groups such as Westboro Baptist Church who actually show up and picket the funerals of people they never met who thus never did anything directly to harm them. It is difficult for me to imagine what kind of mindset leads people to sling hate at people who are complete strangers to them.

10) Sometimes what seems to be the smallest kindness changes lives forever. I gave a woman a piece of lavender in November at Abbott Hospital one day. You would think I had given her the moon. You never know what a word or a gesture may ultimately do for someone. Look up at number 9.

11) Cultivate a spirit of compassion. This is a challenging one at certainly has been so for me. Though we might find it hard to believe...especially when we encounter apathetic people...there are many people who are doing the best that they know how to do.

12) Focus on what is going well in your life. Focusing on the negative and what is lacking will only make that seem larger and larger. Find a way to be grateful for what you already have.

#healthynewme #PTSDrecovery #EMDRisamazing #woof #breathe #exercise#noiamnotmanic #itDOESgetbetter

No comments:

Post a Comment

I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!