When I started this blog a few months back, I only intended to write maybe two or three times a week. Instead, I’ve kept a steady stream of posts going every weekday. I’ve found it’s been a necessary and helpful outlet to express my thoughts, and also for me to observe how things are shifting and changing as I process the effects of abuse in my life.
I am a professional writer and I am accustomed to the discipline of writing every day, but I never intended for this blog to become something I do with my professional hat on. I wanted it and needed it to be something I do for me, without rules, or a feeling of obligation of daily maintenance. As a writer, I know the trap of feeling guilty about not writing.
Yesterday, I was feeling particularly fried. Emotional flashbacks are particularly intense for me around holidays, and Mother’s Day and Father’s day are some of the most difficult days of the year. Father’s Day reminds me that I never really had a father. I had an abuser. And while I am happy and relieved to know there are so many great fathers out there that my friends gush about on social media, I am also acutely aware of what it feels like to not have one. So, with that, and with some deep level processing from EMDR therapy, my whole body froze up. My migraines returned, my hamstrings seized up so I could barely walk. My nerves were doing funny things, and parts of my face went numb. My brain felt hot and swollen, a sensation I’m now figuring out is directly linked to my processing. I did some serious heavy lifting in therapy, and my body told me about it.
So Monday, I took the day off. I checked myself into a spa, and I soaked, baked, stretched, breathed, and relaxed all day. After about three hours, I unwound enough to be able to take a nap. This is huge, because I am often exhausted, but too wound up to be able to nap. I am a fan of TRE, which is a tension release exercise that helps with trauma. I twitched and shook all day long. It was an entire day of much needed self-care.
Processing trauma is difficult work, and I am learning that self-care is not some indulgent, bored housewife thing. For a survivor of trauma, it’s critical. As someone who was denied a “self” in childhood, it is about learning to reclaim it. My need for quiet space and time to reflect seems to be more pronounced than the average person, and I am learning that it’s okay to require the time. I am learning, more and more, on a deeper level, how to better listen and care for myself.
It’s amazing progress. And even though trauma recovery is hard work, it is good work. I believe it is lifesaving work. It is never too late to liberate yourself from the effects of abuse. Choosing to feel difficult feelings for the sake of releasing them is far better than living with the mask on, disconnected, and vulnerable to the lies and fears that keep you stuck. Ask me how I know.