As I was starting to fall apart, another friend of mine was coming over to join me for a walk. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, whether to mention anything to her or not. I decided that I’d ask for help if I needed it. When we met outside, she gave me such a big hug, my whole inner weather shifted! Amazing #2! I totally forgot about all my sadness and enjoyed her company and the walk.
When we parted ways, when I was back at my place, I started stewing in my juices again. I had gotten a few supportive comments to a quick Facebook reach-out, which helped me know that I wasn’t alone. That’s when I realized: Yes, there was mourning and there was also shame! I felt ashamed that I “let this happen to myself,” that I “had been so stupid.” I didn’t want to go there, so I forced myself to start the Pilates workout I had planned for the morning. In the middle of it, I broke down crying. I mourned that all this has happened to me. I mourned that while other people build their lives, danced away, I barely survived and then had to put myself and my life back together. That was really at the center of this break down, not a flashback. It was the mourning of life having taken the turn it did for me, creating a ton of pain in my life (and I am sure my son’s and my parents’ lives as well).
After crying, I felt better. Later that afternoon, I walked some errands. On my way out, I had noticed that I was angry at the young woman who let herself get raped and married – she had caused all this pain in my life! I sensed that there was more mourning in my system… I imagined writing a blog post in my head about whether it makes sense to try to rewire our trauma by, say, thinking of all the other things that happened in 1988.
And off I went onto other thought tangents, mulling this over and over again, occasionally noticing my feet on the ground and noticing how good being fully present to the now felt. Then, when I was almost at home, I remembered that young woman and how angry I was at her. That’s when it hit me: *She* was the one crying! She was the one who needed my love, not my anger! And I had this beautiful sense of taking her into my arms and her merging into my whole body and then becoming myself now and here. It was amazing!
This might sound weird and yet there is evidence from science that reintegration happens. Here is what might have happened to me from a brain-perspective. My friend’s email had brought back the memories of my life in 1988, my memory was reactivated. With that reactivation also came my anger at myself, the shame about my behavior, which was probably one reason it was so traumatic to admit what had happened to me back then. By releasing this anger, by metaphorically taking my 1988-self into my arms, I was able to give that memory a timestamp (traumatic memories are often stored in the parts of our brain that are timeless, hence the seeming realness of flashbacks). Then I was able to file this memory as a memory with timestamp into another part of the brain. I am a different woman now. I would not let myself be treated like that ever again. I can dance away now. I am alive, not just surviving.
Now I feel full of joy and aliveness! And most importantly fully reconciled with the young woman who back then was so blinded by the attention she got that she didn’t realize that it wasn’t love!!!