27 years of behavior is hard to change.
Then I remembered a book a friend recently talked about. Something she said prompted me to investigate the book a little more. (I like any excuse to buy another recovery book.) It was something in the way she described what she was reading that connected wih some other thoughts I've been having on healing. I wondered if it would help me with some stuck things I am trying to work through.
I ordered it -- and then downloaded the kindle version because I couldn't wait. On one of the first few pages it said, "It takes tremendous energy to keep functioning while carrying the memory of terror".
I almost shouted YES!!! out loud in my bed last night as I was reading those words.
I read them again, and again.
(Disclaimer, I'll be referencing this book a little more later in some other posts and will link back to this with the proper credits.)
I thought about all the energy it takes a body, my body, to hold in all the trauma, the lies, the losses, the blaming, the gaslighting and every other crazy thing that an addict wife lives with every day -- sometimes multiple times a day.
It takes energy every Sunday to get up and put on my "church face" and pretend everything is ok. It takes energy to just go to the store some days because hiding from the world means I don't really know what I am missing out there too. It takes energy to just breathe some days. Doing lanudry or sweeping floors can also be the catalist for some flood of undesireable memory.
Because it is trauma.
Trauma has that affect on the mind and on the body. The brain is wired to help the body survive. All these trauma reactions that happen are just the brain doing it job.
I want to teach my brain a different response. I want to teach it peace. I want to re-wire my brain to relax instead of spool up every time these thoughts and fears come flying in unwanted and uninvited.
I remember studying last semester in my psych class how the brain responds to repatitive thought. As I was studying it, I kept thinking, "Yes! This is exaclty what happens after a trauma." I remember feeling relieved as I realized, "Hey, you're normal! Your brain is supposed to work this way." Trauma has a way of making me feel anything but normal.
Several years ago a dear friend broke her leg. The break was horrible. It required several pins, a rod down through the femor and tremendous physical therapy sessions. It was her right leg. So she learned to drive with her left (Odd -- but she's a very independent woman..much like many of us who learn to deal with trauma alone.) I remember going to the hospital to see her and the response I had as I visually saw the effect of the break and the pain she was in. I had to excuse myself for a moment and catch my breath before I could go back in the hospital room to sit with her.
What helps this (My brain isn't broken like my addict husband, but it is damaged from trauma)
(my heart is definitely broken)
Therapy helps, 12-step groups help, reading recovery books help, and even removing yourself from the situation (if necessary) helps, getting a contact circle or a sponsor also helps.
In one of the 12-step groups I attend, there is a line in the script that reads, "Keep coming back -- it works when we work it!"
I've heard that line countless times, but this week, as I am pondering the next direction on my healing path, I'm seeing this differently.
Besides that list above, I'm taking charge of my losses in my mind. My head is going to take me a bit longer -- its more work to get through all the muck lodged up in that head of mine. I'm doing what I can physically while I work on what I can mentally and emotionally. Aside from focused therapy (starting EDMR) --
I am taking charge of my losses. It is going to be a while before I can make the physical move from this marriage. In preparation for that, I am working on my emotional move. I am making plans for the things I want to take into my new life. I'm making lasting and final memories with the current possessions I have that I won't take with me. I'm making plans for things I know I will have to say goodbye to, or changing them so that I can take them with me. (Like my piano...story pending here)
Most of my life has felt like this plan spinning out of control. I've attempted multiple responses to level set and re-direct the spin -- most to no avail. (Because we all know living with addiction is not controllable.)
I can control how I choose to see and respond to this divorce. I can choose whether this is going to tear me up or open up a door that for 27 years I could not get open.
Someone once said, " It's not what happened to us but the belief we created that hurts." (credit unknown) I don't know where I am with this thought now. What I do know, is I can feed the pain and let it fester and even destory me. Or I sit with it, be with it, even love it for how it is shaping the new me.