Every once in a while I wake up with a sense of sorrow so deep I just want to fall back asleep and try again. Today was that way. I love how the ocean fog that’s rolled in overnight dissipates so slowly on these quiet mornings, giving me time to adjust to the rising summer sun. But even the grey of one of my favorite things felt a little personal today.
At moments like this, I always think to myself: but I’m happy, don’t worry! I’m still optimistic and full of hope and possibility! It’s true, but in rushing to find the silver lining I don’t always give myself permission to just grieve a little. To remember that even though the sun is always there, sometimes it’s okay to take in the clouds and not be in such a rush for them to pass.
They can be so dark. Ominous even. I feel the trauma like an emptiness, a loss so profound I don’t know how I live without whatever or whoever it was that is dead now. It’s hard to describe. Like an empty room with curtains blowing softly in the wind, where love should have been.
For many years I had debilitating anxiety, dissociation, an extreme aversion to conflict or any perceived conflict (as in, I couldn’t tell a cashier if he overcharged me kind of “conflict”), a heartbreaking vision of my own body and a sharp disconnection from it, a pattern of meaningless sex and emotionally stunted relationships, and of course, nightmares so ferocious I still shudder when they come to mind.
I take a moment of gratitude that those clouds have passed. I’m not sure how I lived under their shadow for so long, but I owe my life to learning some beautiful ways to cope – ways to connect with my breath, stretch, sweat it out, walk it off, phone a friend, pour my heart into service, cuddle with my hairy old dog, read, and write.
Sometimes I feel so well adjusted that I even let myself forget. I think: I got this!
Then I have mornings like these. Reminders. They’re bigger than the triggers that come through from time to time – the lump I get in my throat when airport security pats me down or the frustration I feel at the sound of dishes clanking or the chest stab when people joke about daddy issues or my continued aversion to medical exams. Those seem small compared to this. Mornings like these cover my whole sky.
But they bring epiphanies, too. Maybe that’s why I have these moments of melancholy. To work through some aspect of trauma I haven’t accessed or realized before.
I’ve thought about how after I disclosed my abuse and was returned home from foster care and my abuser moved back in, he never touched me again. Not a hug or a high five or a hit to the head or anything. Nothing.
And I wondered this morning, what’s worse for a human – a being so reliant on relationships, on human touch, on intimacy and interaction?
To be violated by the touch of another.
Or never to be touched at all.
And I also considered that I’ve been alone for quite a while now, without consistent intimacy. And I wonder if the fear of one is making me live out the other. And I appreciate the insight, but I don’t always know what to do next.
Except breathe and be and listen.
Which I’m working on. I’m better now at tending to myself. Actually giving a little space for this grieving, this healing. I wanted to cancel a date I had with a friend for acai bowls this morning, but I kept it. I’m glad I did. It felt like a way to be kind to my body and my spirit.
I wanted to delete this, but I’m sending it to my brother instead. And I might even post it. As hard as it is to share this vulnerability, I know there are so many people out there trying to figure out how to trust in their own light while they deal with the darkness, too.
I thought maybe if we all just know we’re looking at the same sky sometimes, it might help us to not feel so alone during those grayer days. And with that thought, the first rays of light broke through.