Healing…with a side of grief

If you haven’t read the previous post, The cost of healing, it’s probably best you go back and read it before going any further. If you have, welcome back! I’m about to say the word trauma about half a million times in this post, so sorry, not sorry in advance. The first one to comment the correct number of times I mention the word in this post gets infinite dabloons (sorry it’s a tik tok thing).

Okay, so what is trauma therapy? It’s a therapy specifically focused on helping you understand and process your traumas. This might look different for different people, but what I’ve started on so far is talk therapy. Each week I was tasked with writing down anything significant I remembered, both positive and negative, for each 5-year chunk of my life. Initially, my therapist said she wanted to start with my marriage, even though most people start at age 0. I couldn’t help but laugh at this point and told her that it was probably best we started at age 0 with me too. Yippee.

Of course, I won’t get into details about my laundry list of traumas here. I pay my therapist quite a bit of money to dump that on her, I’d never dump it on anyone else for free! What I will say about it though is that although I was aware that all of these things had happened to me, I never took the time to truly take inventory of them and that in itself was such an eye-opening experience. To take a step back and realize that my life has been littered with awful things was heartbreaking. And when you learn that trauma actually changes our brains, it becomes even more heartbreaking. I highly encourage you to do some research on it and maybe even read the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M. D. I’ve only just started chapter 8, but reading this book has been both fascinating and tragic. There is a section at the beginning of chapter 8 that talks about how our early interactions with others help to shape our brains and how they view/interact with the world around us. That if this time period includes abuse or trauma that fundamentally changes our brain, our future positive experiences can still help to heal and re-write our brains to an extent. However, if multiple abuse or traumas occur, it never gives the brain that opportunity. The opposite can also be true where our early experiences are pleasant, but later abuse can re-write those positives. In my case, my brain has never really had the chance to heal itself, the negative changes just kept coming.

Side note: What I also won’t do here is compare traumas. This isn’t a competition you want to be a part of. Comparing or saying things like, “I’ve been through/heard worse”, “At least it wasn’t…”, etc. are wildly unhelpful and the actual situation or event isn’t necessarily what makes something traumatic. Let’s be honest, someone somewhere will always have been through worse. The real definition of trauma is the emotional response to that situation/event and because we are each our own wonderfully unique selves, we each experience things differently than the next. (Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now).

I started my stint in this program in early October and after session one (0-5 years) it was already really fucking messy. I instantly questioned what I signed myself up for. I was numb after the session, but the tears started flowing that night. I reminded those around me again how messy my therapist said this journey would be for me, and to be patient. I also quickly realized that one-hour sessions went by in the blink of an eye and I had a truckload of shit to unpack, so we threw in a few “2-hour intensives” for good measure. If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to have your chest ripped open, give trauma therapy a try. It will be the most painfully beautiful journey you will ever go on, or so I’m told. I’m not quite finished with mine yet. I’ll let you know where I land.

If you remembered that my last post mentioned this would be a 6-8 week journey, and I started this in early October, you’d be thinking to yourself that I should be just about done processing all of this. So why am I not quite finished with it yet? Well, clearly the universe has it out for me because you know what would really make this torturous process even more gut-wrenching? Adding in a heaping dose of grief.

No, someone didn’t die. Well, I guess some-thing did, and to be brutally honest, it’s worse than death. I’m talking about the death of my relationship. That’s not to say that the actual death of a human isn’t heartbreaking. But going through this has really made me realize that I think this is worse. When someone dies, you grieve the fact that you’ll no longer see them again, that their future is gone. With death, you don’t have a choice. That person is 100% gone and no one is seeing them ever again. It’s a painful reality in life, but we have no control over it. But a breakup is something you have control over. That person is gone from your life, but they are still existing. That future you planned with them in it is gone, but their future still remains, you are just absent from it. You have to continue on with life knowing that they are still very much alive living a life without you.

It’s the story I never in a million years thought I’d add to the blog. I was so sure I had found my person.

I won’t sugarcoat it. It. Is. Soul. Crushing.

I don’t know that there would have been an ideal time for this to happen, but it surely wasn’t during the time in my life when I needed the most support. It surely wasn’t when I was unearthing all of the massive trauma, and pain, and wounds. It surely wasn’t when I had fully removed my soul from my body and laid it out on the operating table to pick apart like an experiment.

But here we are.

This was today. Regular therapy, gym therapy, donut therapy (thanks to lovely friends), and rage room therapy. Excuse the puffy eyes but this is real life and sometimes life is fucking hard. And of course, some words that have helped me lately.

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