when recovery isn't what you thought it was

"...they were all very well meaning, but [...] they'd say was 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' the problem with that was [...] I felt like I was actually broken. That things could happen in your life that would just break a man, that not only you wouldn't be stronger--but that you would never again have what you had before. And I felt that things had slipped in such a way that I would never be able to recover."

i was moved to the point of aching throat from tears unshed by this story. i found it after listening to the Ted talk "A Story of Knots & Surgeons" which was moving; but this version of the story was far more powerful. because it was relatable. It enabled me to identify my own pain, to remember that ( i am not alone ) & ( you are far from the only one walking through this ) are not empty words i tell myself. they're real. oh & btw, i too want to punch people in the face when they say "everything happens for a reason"--even though it's usually directed at my patients, not me.

i know this desperation. hitting the end of being made stronger -yet- still feeling broken. you just want a conversation with the universe: seriously life? i can't break down anymore. i can't even begin to get up again so enough with the curveballs, the endurance training, the building me stronger shit. because i can't duck anymore, i can't see from the black eyes and i'm now on life support so clearly this isn't working out. there is something about change forced upon you. it's one thing to realize you're not who you used to be because of decisions you've made or a natural progression of circumstances. life changes all of us; i realize that. it's an entirely different thing to realize you aren't who you used to be because of other's choices. trauma creates a black hole within you, it rips pieces away from you with stunning violence. there's no gradual progression.

i too have hit this pivotal point of recognizing there is no returning. i've been trying to heal & move beyond & get over the abuse in my past because i wanted to go back. i wanted to be the person i was before i realized i had ptsd. the girl who had her own version of things, who painted with bright sunshine all over the dark, ugly sections of history. i view her as the best version of me--the one who my childhood self would be proud of vs this one that she would be horrified to see. but that isn't how healing works. the goal i've been striving for is an impossible one. not impossible as in challenging--impossible as in completely denies every natural law, impossible as in outside the realm of even theoretical physics.
there is no going back.
there is no going back. i don't get to relive my childhood the way i pretended it was. i don't get to view my father through the false lens i created to survive and not hate him, i don't get to forget and erase the once-hidden memories that now flasback on me all the time. i don't get to see my distrust of order as a thirst for adventure anymore; now i know it's a by-product of a child who never really knew what it was to feel safe. i don't get the first 20 years of my life redirected, i have to make do with what i have. come to terms with the gut-wrenching reality that my dad created this chaotic pain in my heart and mind. that it's not my fault; i couldn't have changed it. it's all on him.

so for me, i'm not so excited about being a new person. getting to the new part means sitting in the ugliness of the old. it means not walking in denial, but facing it. not rushing. giving time & space & voice to the emotions i still shutter so fast and still try to reason out logically so i don't have to feel them. there is nothing harder than looking at ugliness done to you by people who were supposed to keep you safe. i've walked through losses of every kind, chronic pain, disappointment, break-ups. nothing is harder than this--admitting it was intentional in part. admitting there were choices he could have made differently. admitting there is a place blame should lay and it's not mine.

i can see that i've healed some, there's progress. but being made new vs going back forces me to see just how much of myself is still shattered. so many tiny fragments, so much broken glass. i don't think it's realistic to believe any longer that they can all be put back together. i think moving forward means i have to re-frame wholeness.

wholeness that doesn't mean completed by all the things i lost, all the parts of myself that were ripped out me? that is something i don't quite have a frame of reference for.
but maybe i'll get there.


learning to dance

You taught my feet 
to dance 
upon disappointment 
Hallelujah, You are making all things new


not the first

"Come in and trade your tears
All worry and ease your fears
Your burden is not unknown
Don't run friend you're not alone
For all confined come be set free
For all the blind that long to see
Come and receive the perfect relief 
Come and believe He bore your grief
Rise up as the war has ceased
No bondage you have been released
Come all you weak and contrite
He'll strengthen and clothe you in white"
Relief--Wolves at the Gate

[ I am not the first ] whispered it's way into my mind along with the pressure to let go, to rest.
I'm not the first to be here, in this seemingly never ending winter-desert. 

I was crushed under the weight of all the people i have lost. as if memory were a blanket made of steel wool suffocating my heart. it's been a long time since I've felt so desperate for my grandmothers' prayers & laughter. my grandfather's steady safety, great-grandma's delighted treasuring, Aunt Phyllis' remembering, Uncle John whose far too young death still surprises my memory. Grammie, who shaped me more than I knew. the little brother we never held. my mom's best friend, the only one who knew her heart as a sister in arms. the list is too long. 
my old companions the stars hung in the sky like traitors, trading their usual comfort for mockery. they appeared to represent all my goodbyes: small farewells flung from this rock of Earth into the universe across a distance farther than that between the known galaxies. even though it's not forever, if the promise of eternal life I'm staking my existence on is true; right now it's too long away. too much, too far, too long. 

but I cling to this whisper--stories & songs & poems & art serve to remind me this ache is as familiar to the humans as our need for oxygen. I'm not the only one who has looked into the night sky and longed to fly away. or wished my lost ones were as close as a visible star. not the only one who has felt others' pain and carried it. not the first girl to think she can't go on. to wonder just how long she can hang on this edge of breaking. 

and we still keep on. we keep on living & fighting for truths & breathing & working for a future. we strive towards the light. some of us protect the tiniest coal of hope still glowing within. others use their own flaming abundance to ignite the cold hearts around them. always, always we strive towards the light. towards Hope, the Light above us with waves running farther, faster than any of our darkness. towards the smallest reflection within us, the sparks we see in each other's eyes that remind us there is Light above the clouds & beyond the galaxies. a flame that never dies. one that cuts deeper than pain, strong & pure & bright until even the deepest rending the human heart can endure is repaired. 

[ i don't know how to rest. i don't know how to let go, because when i consider relaxing my grip, i crack like this. pain seeps out messy & ugly. so shattering that i lock it away. i'm scared i'll fall into pieces so minuscule i never find them all. help me rest. help me be ok with collapse. promise you'll give me new pieces & make new seams; so i am not all left to jagged edges and missing slivers. ]