Thursday, March 5, 2009

Meandering Through Michele’s Mind (A New Thursday Feature): Let Go of The Illusion

As soon as my trauma ended – actually, while it was still ongoing – I decided I was going to be heroic. I was going to live. I was going to survive. I was going to endure. I decided I was going to be all the usual grandiose things we like to think of ourselves so that we feel strong, powerful and almighty. We need this, especially during trauma, so I’m not saying it was wrong, but…

When I was released from the hospital I went home and continued this way of thinking. A heroic girl (I was 13) would suck it up, get over it, get on with it, let it go, leave the past behind. So, that’s what I set about doing. I was no longer the girl I was pre-trauma, but that didn’t matter; I remade myself into another girl. A girl who didn’t think about the past, who was unaffected by it, stronger than it, transcending above it. Never mind that emotionally I was crumbling; I shut off my emotions and forged ahead. I put in place the survival mechanisms I needed, hid them from everyone else, and set about getting back on the path I’d been on before fate intervened.

I have to tell you, I did a great job. I ran headlong back into junior high school and then high school and then college and the professional world without looking back. I denied the memories that lurked and focused on forming myself into the epitome of the busy chick who was achieving and performing and getting things done and progressing along the usual social timeline for my generation.

And then it all fell apart because the truth is, if we build something out of thin air, it cannot possibly last. There came a day when I was forced to recognize the illusion – it was the worst and best moment for my PTSD healing. Worst, because discovering the falsity of something we deeply believe in is a staggering blow. Best, because it allowed me to face my PTSD with a new sense of honesty and clarity, two characteristics that allowed me to get on the right path toward ultimately healing.

It took a tremendous amount of energy to build and maintain the façade of my post-trauma self. I was so bent on being brave and strong, responsible and heroic that I was shocked to find, when it all came tumbling down, that I was lost and grieving, splintered and fractured, terrified and stunned.

I had to start from scratch: recognize who I had become, tear down the identity I had assumed, find out who I really was, make choices about who I wanted to be, and begin to build and allow to emerge a new, more authentic self.

Sound like a lot of work? It was! But… it was so worth it.

What illusions do you have about yourself after your trauma or during your recovery? Leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Next Tuesday at 1pm EST I’ll be the featured guest on Rena Reese’s radio show on BlogTalkRadio. An author, speaker and life coach, Rena recently wrote about illusion on her The Soul Salon blog. She looks at illusion from both sides, 1) how we benefit from participating in it, 2) how recognizing illusion wakes up a part of us that begins to make demands. Rena ends her post by saying,

If you chose to participate in an illusion, you may fake out the world, but your spirit will know the truth. That truth will manifest in your body as an illness or a depression... it will find a physical expression in the physical world.

Does that ring any PTSD bells???

(Photo: Son of Twins)

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