Murky Middle

Somewhere between trauma and healing is the murky middle. It is murky because you have your highs, lows, and many days you can’t see where it is all headed.

Recently I broke my arm and there is nothing like physical pain to remind you of the emotional stuff. This is when I realized I was in the murky middle of my current trauma. There was a lot about the middle I had forgotten from my previous trauma. The feeling that was most prevalent for me was feeling alone. I knew that I had people around me that were supportive but it was the middle of the night. I was sad, lonely, and in physical pain. The physical pain reminded me of the emotional pain I was also dealing with. I needed something and I didn’t know what the something was.

One thing that people who have had trauma or abuse is they miss the normal and many times don’t know what ‘normal’ is. All I have to gauge my ‘normal’ with is tv, social media, and glimpses into others’ lives. What does it feel like when someone is there for you? -That special someone. From my sexual abuse I was left out of what it felt like to be loved, just loved for the child I was. I missed the discovery of intimacy. The lines of boundaries were blurred. I didn’t know what appropriate behavior was. Life got murky.

I had forgotten about the many times when I felt in the middle emotionally as well. I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t sad either. Those were the days when I didn’t hurt, maybe I was numb. When I was hurting and working through the emotions was when the water around me seemed the murkiest. It felt like I had stirred up something and it hurt. I don’t like pain as much as the next person but the thing I learned most from that trauma is that the sooner you recognize the pain, name it and where it is coming from the faster you are able to move on. I spent 30 years just circling the murky. It was when I decided to go through it that I discovered it looks scarier from the outside than from in.

I remember a time when I was sitting in my bedroom. I was crying and hurting. I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t understand all the rush of emotions I was feeling but I could sense I was on the verge of progress. Progress appeared to me like a scene from some sci-fi movie. I was facing this wall of pain in the form of fire. I could not go around it. I either stayed put or I went through it. That night I decided to face up and go through it. What did I find? The wall was an illusion. All the anguish, pain, and anticipation of pain were not really there. I felt a sense of relief. There had been pain on one side of the wall. There was still stuff to work through but in the end, it was not nearly as bad as my anticipation.

In my current trauma, I have learned there is an easier way to work through things than waiting until I felt build-up and finally had to go through or be stuck. I have found one thing to do is keep moving forward and working through each emotion as it comes. For instance, grief is one of the emotions experienced in all types of trauma. Grief is about a sense of loss and that loss can be anything from your favorite person to the life you had wanted to live.

In America particularly, we don’t do grief well. It gives us a moment then buck up and move on. Grief doesn’t follow a timeline. As a delayed griever I have come to the knowledge it is best to allow the feeling to envelop you and you express it. It is ok to feel sad. It is ok to cry. I also believe that grief should be a private affair.

When I got divorced I grieved what could have been. I had three children that I still needed to take care of as well as life went on. But I took the time when my children were with their father to grieve. I thought about the dreams of what I had wanted life to be like. I played music and for some reason, certain songs were really good at bringing the grief to the surface and I cried. I allowed myself that time to feel the sadness. When my children came back I was doing much better since I have given myself that time. Of course, there were moments in between of sadness but they were not as overwhelming as they could have been if I had not given time to me.

Sometimes a good way to process grief is to produce something with your hands or imagination. Create a piece of artwork using clay or words. For me, in my current trauma, I processed some of the grief by creating these cards. The feeling I want most with my healing is peace. Then I spent time in my Canva account and started creating cards about 5×7 size that I could print out, frame, and put around my home so that I had a reminder of what my goal is.

Here is an example of one:

I’m a pretty spiritual person and I used that to make my little card but I also included quotes from popular authors. I intend to create more with just the word peace but in an imaginative way of displaying the word.

The murky middle of healing from trauma is not the favorite part but the most essential if one wants to get from the trauma to the healing. It is the part thrust upon all that have this experience. But it is also the part that allows the most growth.

“Honor your humanness and all of your feelings – the messy ones, the growing pains, the ache – because we can’t have the dark without the light.” ~ Sabrina Ward Harrison

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