Sometimes, you need to begin at the beginning. This is a lesson I am learning the hard way. I’ve been spinning my wheels these past several weeks, trying desperately to get words written. It’s a two steps forward, three steps back kind of existence and I’ve been losing heart. I took a mini-break this weekend and just focused on reading a little bit, trying not to think about the book I’m needing to write. And somewhere in the process of letting my brain relax, it dawned on me. I can’t write the story that needs to be written, the story I want to be sold. At least not until I write the story that needs to be told.
You see, I’ve literally spent my entire adult life seeking the answers to the riddles of my memories and the pain they cause me. I’ve spent thousands of hours and dollars in and out of therapy over the course of 35 years. In the past several years, when the stress of building a home, rebuilding that home, and all the moves back and forth in between that chaos sent my tenuous mental balance into a tailspin, I sought a therapist who could hopefully get to the root of all the problems and help me find real balance. The therapist I found is a specialist in what is known as EMDR–eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It’s a relatively newly approved therapy for those suffering from PTSD. It is actually one of only two WHO approved therapies for PTSD survivors in foreign countries. WebMD says EMDR: does not rely on talk therapy or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a patient’s own rapid, rhythmic eye movements. These eye movements dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events.
It seemed a bit odd, but after over 30 years of trying everything else, including living with terrifying flashbacks while trying to raise four otherwise normal boys, I thought I’d give it a go. Two years and countless migraines later (it seems that dredging up past agonies often causes me current agonies in the form of migraines), the traumatic memories have been balanced into the their proper places–in the past. When they pop up now–because let’s be honest, memories do get remembered, it’s a normal thing–they cause a tiny sadness, sometimes a little righteous indignation that human beings could be so cruel to one so young, but those are normal emotional responses to tragic events. I don’t lose control. I’m no longer jumping out of my skin when loud thumps and bumps occur. I’m no longer hiding in closets when visions that I can’t stop invade my inner eye. I’m no longer getting migraines from the nightmares I have in the middle of the daytime. I’m no longer wanting to hide in fear from life.
Wow. Just typing that without breaking into a sweat was a bit of a rush. So, if you haven’t guessed, the story that needs to be told is mine. I’m not even certain it has to be shared or read by anyone but me. But it has to be put on paper, written into real words, painting the real pictures. Because as a writer, this is truly the last, most important step in healing for me. And while the fictional story I want to sell is extremely loosely based on the trauma I lived, it isn’t MY story. It belongs to the characters who have been created to live it. And telling their story won’t heal me. Only MY story can do that for me. So now it’s time to put my fingers on the keyboard and type my story. For me. Maybe for my children so they can understand why Mommy wasn’t always quite normal. For full healing. For Shalom.
Did you know that shalom means peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility–that it’s not simply a greeting? Wholeness, completeness, harmony, tranquility. These are things that often elude the survivors of trauma of any kind. These are the lifelong desires of my soul. After over a full year since treatment, I know that EMDR gave me my equilibrium–I can’t say it gave it back, because quite frankly, the abuse happened when I was too young to have ever had equilibrium. But without writing the story down, getting the words out into the light of day, I will not find full wholeness.
So, for now, I’m beginning at the beginning. I’m currently in what is literally a stream-of-consciousness mind-dump. It’s rough and ugly and the grammar sucks. But at least it will be out. Then if I decide to polish it up and share it, cool. If not, it’s out of my head. Let the healing rays begin.