Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Healing Power of Calm

I do not talk/write about my story for sympathy, or vengeance. I tell my story so that I may understand and so that others who wish to hear may gain some understanding as well.

When I had met Mr. Sunday, I was 22 or 23 years old. Finally the fireworks display that was the adolescent brain had subsided and I was pretty much left only having to wrestle with my leftover anxiety, depression and PTSD, from years of living in the foster care system. Yea me!

I had aged out of foster care, I had been homeless, lived the thug life, been quite the party girl, I had destroyed relationships, and many times I had come close to destroying myself. By that time I had hitchhiked across the country several times. Something would happen, I’d screw-up, whatever…I would just throw everything I could carry in a trash bag and I would get the hell out of Dodge, just like I had lived out so many times throughout my childhood. I didn’t know it then but I realize it now, “the adrenaline made me do it.” No kidding, that Fight or Flight thing is no, joke!

Anyway, there I was with my new fairly matured neurological wiring, because I somehow miraculously managed to survive through adolescence into young adulthood. I had met Mr. Sunday. Let me tell you, he was nothing I ever thought I wanted in a man or anyone. When you have had a traumatic childhood, spent half of your life living as a ward of the state, you get to live with 6, 12, 24 unique, interesting sometimes very troubled individuals…you get used to dealing with high octane and drama. Mr. Sunday is the antithesis of drama. I have no idea what possessed me to even stop to give him the time of day, because there was nothing familiar or that felt like my dysfunctional home about him whatsoever. Yet, being that there was nothing in common about us, being totally different from each other as any two people could seem to be, somehow we managed to feel at very much at home together.

Mr. Sunday is (was) the calmest person on the planet. He has manage to exist in a level of calm even many a hard core stoner would be envious of…naturally. I mean, steady Freddie, even keel, just Zen… All. The. Time. And here the poor schlep had the dumb luck of falling in love with a trauma-brain girl. My natural calm would register on the national threat warning system as a solid orange, and his would be off the charts at a cool blue at his most stressed.

“Mr. Sunday, Mr. Sunday! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Mr. Sunday would peer up from is book or newspaper, look at the tiny chunk of sky. He would examine it, turn it over, examine it some more. He would give me a thoughtfully look and say,

“Yep, that sure looks piece of sky alright.”

Being a trauma-brain girl and all, I’d jump around and say,

“But Mr. Sunday that is a piece of SKY, IT FELL! We’re screwed!”

Thoughtfully Mr. Sunday would say again, “yep, that IS sky.”

Confused, still dancing around, I’d say,

“BUT Mr. Sunday, we have to DO something! The SKY IS FALLING. I am FREAKING –THE-FUCK-OUT HERE and I have all of this adrenaline and stuff, and it is telling me I have to DO SOMETHING before everything else come crashing down and the world turns to shit. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!”

Mr. Sunday would take a deep breathe, look me in the eye and say,

“Yep, that IS a PIECE of the SKY.  I get it.  IT DID FALL I see that.   The chances of more of the sky falling, let alone in this exact spot are ASTRONOMICAL, I assure you. Feel free to jump and dance around if that is what you need to do, but I am going sit her and finish reading this, I’ll be right here when you are done.”

Let me tell you there is nothing that sucks the life out an adrenaline induced doomsday dance of escalation like not having a partner willing to join in. Pop, fizzle, pop.

It has taken years, I tell ya. YEARS!  Mr. Sunday modeled calm, exuded patience. Through every test, and test I have, life has, he has loved me for who I am, trauma-brain and all. He stood true to himself and his reality that fear is an illusion, that nothing so bad; that it can’t be overcome will ever really happen. Slowly but slowly those mirror neurons I mentioned, in my amped-up trauma-brain have learned to reflect his calm non-trauma brain more and more. His mirror neurons have rejected and refused to mold to my whole the sky is falling trauma-drama-brain way of thinking, I was so freely sharing. And that is the biggest gift I have ever been given. It has taken a lot of time for me to get where I am today. I am still not perfect, I still get angry, I still occasionally lash out, I still feel compelled to act, and I still get triggered, I still have times I struggle. I am not nor will I ever be the same slave to adrenaline overload I used to be…not even close.

Let me say, I do realize that poor Mr. Sunday took a lot of shit…lots. It wasn’t fair that he was tested and tested and then tested some more. There were times when he was just so damn nice I was sure I would have to leave him, because obviously he was some bazaar-o freak of nature and I couldn’t stand it anymore. And beyond any shadow of a doubt, I know it couldn’t have been nearly as easy as he made it look.

In the end: Fear begets more fear. Calm begets calm. Peace begets peace. Love begets love.

If you love someone who is surviving trauma and you are having a hard time being that model of patience, that mirror of calm…don’t beat yourself up. Living with constant fearful instinct driven reactionary behavior is not fun. Maybe you are feeling fearful and reactionary yourself, struggling to BE the behavior you want to see. That wouldn’t be surprising, trauma is tough stuff, and us trauma survivors know how to put those who love us through the paces. Put your on your oxygen mask, grab a good book and be there when it is all said and done.

Check out the EFT teleconference for mothers Lisa from Life in a Grateful House put together…who knows maybe you find your inner Mr. Sunday or Lisa, or Claudia, or Christine or maybe even the inner you, you forgot you are.

If you are a fellow foster care alumni, adoptee, trauma survivor, child of an alcoholic/drug addict, whatever who is looking to relieve the stress of triggers check out this special EFT video, just for folks like us.

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