Archives for posts with tag: military sexual trauma

I woke early, feeling rested and unconcerned. It’s a nice frame of mind to start off in. Still human, though, and within seconds self-doubt, hurt feelings, vague disappointments, and miscellaneous baggage dredged from my waking consciousness was launched at me as a barrage of discontented feelings. Seriously, Brain, was that at all necessary? First thing? Couldn’t wait until after meditation, yoga, a shower, a coffee? A bit less than two years ago, it would have been all that was required to kick-start a shitty morning, filled with misunderstandings, miscommunication, and moodiness. This morning wasn’t that.

Each attempt on my waking mind that my demons made was met, this morning, with the gentle observation “that’s not about me”. One by one the momentary feelings showed how momentary they are, by dissipating and leaving nothing behind as I reminded myself that first this bit of weirdness and suffering, then that one, were simply ‘not about me’. Turns out this is also a nice frame of mind with which to face the earliest bit of morning; taking care of me, comfortably.

The three biggest take-aways in my year+ of studying, so far, have been 1. Mindfulness, 2. Perspective, and now 3. Sufficiency.  Having all three tends to find me feeling contented, balanced, and enjoying my experience. Lacking any one of them and I find myself suffering, volatile, reactive, and often ‘unable to figure things out’.  It’s a pleasant change.  I’m grateful to have stayed around to experience it. 🙂

From this perspective it's all blue skies and spring time...

From this perspective it’s all blue skies and spring time…

It is, however, still a journey, and I still have a long one ahead of me. A lifetime, actually. As beautiful as my experience can be these days…

...looking beneath the surface is revealing.

…looking beneath the surface is revealing.

Even my generally-very-pleasant-mostly-pretty-balanced experience these days isn’t ‘everything there is’ to who I am. There’s more work to do. I am at long last perhaps well enough, whole enough, to face doing it. I am a trauma survivor. I am a domestic violence survivor. I am a rape survivor. I am a war veteran.  These are part of who I am. There was a time when enduring these experiences seemed an endless feature of my emotional landscape, continuously playing out again and again in my emotional background, coloring my here and now whether I was sleeping or awake. I suffered. I endured. I cried. I survived.

That’s an important detail. I’ll say it again. I survived.

So, I’m not without damage. I have some scars, both emotional and physical. Still, here I am. Life, generally, in my here and now is pleasant and comfortable. I find myself on the edge of wellness and faced with a decision… do I stand fast, in this pretty comfortable place – or do I continue to grow, develop, work on me, sort things out, and… do I follow through? That last isn’t so obvious and transparent.  It’s this – although crimes perpetrated against me in the past are likely beyond prosecution now, there’s the matter of military compensation. Do I submit paperwork on my military sexual trauma?  That’s the hard question. A yes answer means committing to telling the tale, on paper, with as much documentation as I can track down. It means being intimate with some very painful moments in my life and learning to be able to discuss them without tears, hysteria, or losing myself in the unpredictable outcome of real rage. I could just sooth myself and look away, couldn’t I? Enjoy where I am now, and let the past go… wherever the past goes. Couldn’t I?

Could I?

I often think the safer choice – emotionally safer – is to let it all go, let it somehow simply cease to be… but as soon as my body begins to relax into the awareness and comfort that I am safe here, now, I feel the awareness of those others, those younger versions of me, still crying in their sleep, still hurting, still so sad. Who takes up their cause? Who seeks redress for them? Who ‘makes it right’, if it can be made right at all, ever? There is no one to advocate for them, but me.  This, then, is ‘about me’, and more about telling the tale, respecting myself, and healing those hurt little girls still lurking in my ‘baggage claim area’, than the paperwork, itself, but it appears the paperwork may be how I get there.

I enjoy how far I have come. I know I have further to go. Today is a good day for a journey. Today is a good day to change the world.

Words are powerful. What we say can change our experience. What we hear can change our understanding of the world.  Sometimes words seem insufficient. Sometimes words are so visceral as to become unspeakable. Sometimes sharing the words that describe our pain, our trauma, our suffering, or the horrors we fear in our darkest nights, is more than we can bear to do, however badly we need to hear those words aloud.

A lens, a mirror, a metaphor.

A lens, a mirror, a metaphor.

I went to my appointment yesterday. Words were spoken that I didn’t expect to hear in my own voice, maybe never in my lifetime. I did not know I had the will to speak them. The journey ahead of me is still a long one. I have come so far… there is so much farther to go.

Maybe words are just too much, even now. Letters are enough, more than enough: PTSD, MST, TBI. It’s still not ‘easy’ to talk about some things. It’s getting easier to accept the unspeakable, to give myself compassion, to take a moment to treat myself well.

I do have words for those along the journey who have offered directions, a light in the darkness, a moment of rest, or comfort; “thank you”.  If I’ve hurt you along the way, lashing out in fear and rage and grief without thought, I have words for you, too; “I’m sorry”.

If you are suffering, now, treading water in your unfathomable icy sea of pain and regret and hurt, or considering your own ‘final solution’ to the chaos and damage, just wanting a moment to rest, beyond caring about beginnings and ends, I have words for you, too. “Please.” (That’s the first of them.) “Please, be a survivor, not a victim; don’t let pride, shame or fear make you a statistic. Don’t let trauma win. Ask for help. Talk about it. Use your words. If you’ve got to go down, go down fighting – you matter.”

Ask for the help you need. If you can, you may find the healing you seek.