|Can you spot all 4 kiddos in this picture? They are lining up for Super Man rides. :)|
Sometimes it's hard being public about all of this because I think people expect Mark and I to never struggle or for me to have somehow worked through everything in only 6 short years. The honest answer is no. We are both far from perfect and I have trauma and triggers that still pop up. Although we have come so far, there is an eternal expanse yet ahead of us. I have moments of darkness and even Dark Days (notice the plural in day-s!). They don't happen as often as they used to and I can usually pull out of them more quickly (the better way to say that, is allow myself to be pulled out). Although the trauma isn't as raw and the battle isn't as constant as it used to be because of the big stuff that has already been addressed, the most noticeable difference between today and 6 years ago isn't that the trauma is magically all gone. The biggest difference is that I know what to do. I know how to fight without caving in to the lies or the despair. I have tools that can usually blast right through any attempts to smother me in blackness. I know how to hold on when things don't instantly release or resolve. Plus, I know that if I do what I know will bring in light, it will come (even if it comes "eventually---" it will always come as I hold out for it; and in the "meantime," Christ will uphold me through His grace and His love). As I type that right now on a darker-than-my-usual-kind-of-day, it refreshes my own hope. God is with me! I do not walk this path alone; I never have and I never will. He was with me on one of the darkest days of my life 6 years ago. He was with me in all of the events leading up to that day that changed me forever. He has stayed by my side ever since...and He has always been right there...as there as I have allowed Him to be. At this time when things are a bit fuzzy, I know that I can trust God.
A tricky thing about betrayal trauma is that although it was caused by someone else's choices, I still have a choice. I don't have to remain victim to its effects. I can act rather than remain acted upon (2 Nephi 2:13-14, 16, 26 and 2 Nephi 10:23). It's difficult to put a trauma response into words. The closest I think I can come to explaining it to someone who hasn't experienced it is that when I am triggered like this, I am literally re-living the past...not just "thinking about" it, but literally back in it. (and from an Anatomy & Physiology stand-point, that is exactly what happens in a person's brain, nervous system, body...and obviously mind). Although my body is physically here in this moment, my mind is back in the past as real as if it is this present moment...I am literally there again. Although in this moment I am safe, my life is stable, and my husband is in recovery, when I have a trauma response, I am thrown back into a time when my life wasn't that way at all. The interesting thing about trauma responses is that a person can have them and be unconscious to what is happening. That was me for a long time. I didn't know that I was being triggered like this until I was taught. Rather than allowing my mind to run wild, I have had to learn to train my mind and create new paths of thoughts and patterns (neuro-pathways). I have had to become aware of what is happening in this moment, as well as using what is happening in this moment to uncover the unresolved past. Although it seems it is the past that haunts me, it isn't actually the trauma from the past that has me gasping for light. It is the choice I make in this moment for either misery or happiness---the ways I continue to turn towards the illusion of lies before me instead of sources of light. I can't change my past, but in this moment I can reach. With every new breath, I have the fresh choice for this moment. And as my heart continues to beat and my chest rises and falls with each breath, I can re-commit again and again. This moment I choose Light. I know my Savior will do for me what He had done for me countless times before; I know He will walk me through the details of reframing and softening the parts of the trauma that I am reliving today. I don't have to do it myself, but what is necessary to this process is for me to reach out to Him and let Him in. And so I will...over and over again...from moment to moment.
Below are a few things just for fun. I'm not saying this is a magic formula for Trauma-Versaries because every person is different and every Trauma-Versary will be different. There is no "magic bullet" because even though Christ is the answer, we all access His grace and strength differently. It's just a list of a few extra things I felt drawn to in order to get through today that maybe will help somebody else, too.
*Yogi Tea: This is my favorite recipe, but I omit the black tea; it strengthens the nervous system, purifies the blood, and pages of other good stuff! :)
*Pittra Kriya: This Kriya is an ancient one. It has been offered beginning in India to those who are grieving. In my own personal experience, there has been a good amount of grieving associated with betrayal trauma. They would go down to the river to do the first part (there are 3 parts to this Kriya). The effects of this Kriya are intensified the longer it is done (40 days in a row vs. once).
*$0.89 ice-cream cones at Burger King :)
*Introducing the kids to The Belly Laugh Game
*Bubble bath with lavender essential oil
*Being present in the moment: Mark playing "rough" with the kids (the picture at the top of this post)