Recovering From Traumatic Events
When I was a child, I remember spending time at the beach. The sound of waves coming up against me as I waded through the water; breathing in the soft breeze of salty air; the sun as it kept me warm in the water and the sounds of people and birds around me lulling me into an almost trance-like state. I was on autopilot in the water, overtaken and swept into the hypnotic rhythm of the ocean.
Time would cease and before long I was out in the ocean for hours. It was often difficult to get me out of the water when I was young. And then it would always happen- I would reach the breaking point of exhaustion from being out in the sun and water all day. My exhilaration would turn to dread as I would fight my way back to shore in what seemed like a battle for my very soul.
I fought the undertow, the waves, and the ruthless sun, to get to shore where I could drop onto my sandy towel and fall asleep for a few hours. The battle to get to shore was always hard, would make my heart race and I would panic that I wasn’t getting any closer to leaving the water.
This is what trauma feels like to me. One moment I’m are basking in the beauty of a perfect life, and in the next moment, I’m battling for my very existence.
In the start of 2015, Dom and I set out to discover what we really wanted in our lives. We knew what we wanted, we knew where we wanted to be, and as the months unraveled, we came to understand how it would all unfold.
We believed in each other. We also had faith in people we didn’t even know. Reaching for our goals and dreams and heading into a farm partnership was like being out in the mystic ocean. It was a dream. And a nightmare.
Coming out of that situation was traumatic. And as quickly as we were settled there, it felt like God scooped down his big beautiful hand into the water pulled us out of that ocean where we were fighting to get to shore, and hurled us through the air two states over, from Maine to Vermont.
The first month in Vermont I walked around with my shoulders tightly raised. Every muscle and fiber in my body was clenched in agony and exhaustion. I wanted to just disappear into a dark hole and cry for a long time. I couldn’t however because I also had to think about how that would affect Simmi and Dom.
The second month in Vermont brought my very old and well-hated adversary, Mold. My exhaustion continued and now enter illness to set off a cascade of autoimmune responses. I lost my hair and feared I would lose my life.
The third month in Vermont brought some comfort and healing. No more exposure to mold meant that my body could begin to recover. But my heart and emotions are still damaged, writhing in pain still stuck at the bottom of the ocean. Every time I taste the saltiness of my tears, it reminds me that I’m still at the bottom of the ocean.
The fourth month in Vermont brought lots of tears. More tears than I would care to admit to. I’m doing the deep work now in my soul, weaving and repairing those things so ruthlessly torn apart after giving all we had and then feeling completely trampled upon.
Many people don’t come back from that kind of trauma. I didn’t know if I ever would.
My courage, hope, belief in those around me, my giving nature, my love, joy, friendship, my calling, my very heart, I placed in the hands of those who never deserved it. That was my mistake. That was my error. Believing that others are just like me, and finding out that they are the opposite. The trauma is mine to bear, mine to repair, and mine to heal.
It has changed me in ways that I feel I may never recover. It has caused me to distance myself from those resembling anything violent, terrorizing, physically or emotionally abusive, and even those who would support such things.
The fifth month in Vermont brought grieving. Grieving for the loss of my calling. The loss of my animals. The deep and abiding connection I have with the earth and the need to be always connected to it through planting and animals. I cry daily over this. My grief is endless.
Recovering from traumatic events takes time.
I don’t stop it though. I need to feel it all. The anger, the frustration, the grief, the sadness…all of it. Because this part of my life is just as significant and important as those times when I’m lost in the garden filled with wonder of the smallest living creatures and how they function in my world.
I love every part of me. Even the part that grieves every day. It makes me vulnerable and cry out in fascinating ways. It makes me look in the direction of injustice and open my mouth. It makes me look with empathy at those suffering great loss. It helps me connect back to my humanity in ways that happiness cannot.
As I look toward 2016, my hope is that I can finally be through this grief and can create a new plan for our lives. One filled with tears of joy instead of sadness. To be able to once again bask in the beauty of our lives without fear of loss.