It’s tough for me to post this as in many ways it feels so incomplete, so personal and there are many more things I’d like to say about trauma, yoga therapy, etc. And this blog is about the personal process for me, looking to share what’s going on for me as a means to empower others, so here it goes.
I stood on the hot sidewalk and watched the events unfolding at my home from a distance. I didn’t want to go closer. Paramedics and police officers went in and out while blue lights flashed across the house. I remember thinking “This is it. You aren’t going to survive this.” In whatever language my toddler mind could process at that point; I didn’t think I was going to live much longer. The cycles of abuse around me continued to grow stronger by day. The trash can was an indication of what lie ahead. Empty glass bottles on top meant physical pain would trickle down to me later. Later that night, from the walls of a women’s shelter, I felt frozen in pure terror of what would lie ahead. All my little mind could process was you are not safe, you have no where else to go.
Memories like these are visceral ones I find myself working to uncover as a means to heal. In yoga, to experience Vidya, right perception, rather than the afflictions of an unsteady mind. The details aren’t pretty, and as Indra approaches the ages I was where my most formative memories of physical abuse began, I find myself reliving many things from my past. Not as a victim, rather as an active participant in the process. To me it’s work of acknowledging my feelings exactly as they were and where they are today, free from judgment. My dream world is my main indication of progress. The Yoga Sutras offer that meditating on dreams can produce a new level of stability of the mind. The idea is that our experiences in dreams are most reflective of our inner states, as they are free from outer world senses and influences.
Last night I dreamt that Richard, my former step-dad, was standing outside our porch. It was raining. He hid in the dark. He was drunk, aggressively shouting things to Michael when confronted by him. While I stood in the house, my initial caution was supported by an overall experience of confidence that we were safe. That is the part that tells me I’m making progress.
Those who work with me know how much I emphasize the process of uncovering memories from the past. As a Yoga Therapist, I am frequently referring people to work with Mental Health Therapists through the uncovering of (big T) Trauma. At the same time, the process of Yoga Therapy can be invaluable throughout these stages of healing. In Ayurveda, the manas “mind” channels live in both the mind and the body. While Western treatments work to repair and optimize the functioning of the brain process, Eastern offerings tap into the innate intellect of the body. The patterns we hold all through the physical (anamayakosha), energetic (pranamayakosha) and mental (manamayakosha) all contribute to our experience of reality today.
While many parts of my brain wish I could say the shelter was a turning point, there would be many more memories formed of flashing blue lights against many different homes, even after Richard was gone. He ended up killing himself later in life. I can only imagine the depths of his internal conflictions. By the age of 17, I had moved more than 20 times. So I went out on my own as soon as I could and a few years later I purchased my own home (still owned and one of my most beloved places in the world). The sounds of breaking glass, screaming, and eventually the tone of the dial as my fingers pressed against 9-1-1 are all pieces of memories that have helped make me who I am today. These cycles of experiences have contributed to my individual strength and perseverance in more ways that I can likely see. While sometimes challenging to embrace, new energy resources, ease of daily life, depth of connection, these are the things that keep me on the path of unveiling and revisiting the things that have happened and what I made them mean about me and my life.
All of my relationships today depend on my continuous evolution. If they don’t, then they aren’t moving me forward. I spent many years trying to forget the things of the past. So much so that I disillusioned myself to reality. Many of my filters caused me to act more like a child and experience more pain. While I still find myself throwing the occasional adult tantrum, I’m getting better. My daily mind and life are more peaceful than they have ever been. Do you feel like a better person than you did a year ago? 5 years ago? I say keep on, keepin on then. You’re doing a great job.
Written from my eyebrows on a steamy August afternoon with a growing belly!