Writing: My Trauma Medicine.
There are some days when trauma is almost all I can see.
On these days, surviving through the day feels of utmost importance, my priority, and seemingly all I can do. And sometimes, actually all I can do.
Today is one of those days.
Normality and consistency feel like lifelines on days like this. They keep me remembering that despite the whirlwind, the hurricane, flying around my system, and the danger — the need to survive — that is seemingly coming any moment, I’m safe and I’m here, and I’m in the same place, the same world, the same situation that I was yesterday, the day before, last week, or a year ago, rather than the time of the trauma I’m remembering.
My life at the moment feels thin on the ground of routine, but it is increasingly filling with consistency. And consistency I can access easily. Writing and the writing community is one of my key consistencies, and has become a lifeline — something I can hold on to tightly — throughout this time.
When I step away from my computer, I step back into a whirlwind of trauma. Memories surface, my brain feels flooded, and my eyes can’t see further than two feet away from me without my body filling up with adrenaline, and the feeling of danger and threat hits my system.
I can take a few steps out into my outside life, and then step back into a world where I feel safe and held, heard and understood, for as long as I need, before I take more steps to wherever I need to go, or do whatever I need to do.
Sometimes computer screens feel like the enemy, and the last few weeks they have been, because I’ve had an ear infection that’s been a complete bitch. But today and yesterday, the ability to be able to bring all my focus back on to, and into, words and the people that live around them, around me, has been medicine.
Words that save me, heal me, help me, reassure me, and free me, are things I can access at any moment I need them.
I can’t eat, but I can type.
I can’t sleep, but I can write.
I can’t focus, but I can read.
I can’t talk, but I can scream onto the page.
My creativity changes when I’m flooded with PTSD. The need to write words that make sense, sentences that string together with consistency and stability, rather than total freedom or creative bursts, is what’s here.
As I watch words flow out of my fingertips, I remember my sanity and I find myself again.
In times my sanity and stability feel right here and confidently with me, writing brings me an opportunity to lose myself and find the freedom my soul craves.
But on days like today, when the world around me and the world within me don’t feel safe and don’t feel sane, to string together sentences that remind me I am both of those things, utterly and completely, is what I need. And what writing brings me.
The way I write depends on what’s happening inside.
The way I write depends on what I’m experiencing and feeling, but the outcome is always the same — I come home, I find myself again, I tap into a joy that is so unique to this process, and the way I feel afterwards is lighter and free and as though everything is going to be okay.
Writing of trauma specifically — of events, of what’s happened, of what I experienced around what happened — brings me freedom and a relationship with the event that is incredible to witness and see. It’s different from anything else I’ve experienced, in a therapeutic sense.
The only comparison is EMDR.
Last month, I wrote and published my story of a sexual assault that happened three and a half years ago. What followed was so incredible that it left me teary for days, as I continued to witness and notice how much trauma had shifted from my body, from that process of telling and typing my story.
I was able to hold myself in a way I hadn’t before. There was a freedom within my chest, my heart, that I didn’t know I had, until I felt it and had it to hold. A lightness fluttered into places within me that I didn’t know were heavy and full, weighed down and dark.
An openness came in places I didn’t know were closed.
Words came from a place within me I didn’t know needed to speak, until I began — and then continued — to type and type and type.
From those two days of writing, I grew.
My relationship with the event changed completely. It became something that happened to my inner young woman, rather than the woman I am now. Suddenly I was, and am, able to talk of it without the trauma and terror that would flow every time I tried to.
The more I wrote, the more I found distance and release. I tapped into, and connected with, my inner parent and her unconditional love for me. She held the space for the young woman in me, to speak. I hadn’t consciously connected to her in relation to the event before.
And her presence in my life, before the weekend of writing out this story, felt monumental in enabling the writing to happen.
She hadn’t been there as strongly, until then, so it makes sense that it wasn’t until I was able to trust and truly feel her presence, that I was able to tell that story from a place of knowing I am, and was, safe and unconditionally held by the parent inside of me.
As I wrote, compassion flooded from her and my heart opened wider until the love I felt for myself all-encompassed my body. It stayed that way as I typed, and for the days that followed. The sorrow for my inner young woman that surrounded me, as tears fell and my story poured out of me, was utterly beautiful.
Sometimes writing brings me freedom, sometimes it brings me stability. Sometimes it brings me a place to tell my story, sometimes it brings me the chance to creatively lose myself and my sense of the reality around me.
Whatever it brings me, within that is a creative process, a creative release, that dives beneath the shit flying around me — the memories haunting, the overwhelming feelings seemingly crippling, the anxiety raging — offering the opportunity for me to go deep, and find me.
Not the trauma, not the past, not the abusers, not what they left behind… me.
And that, to me, is invaluable as I navigate my healing trauma path. To be able to so easily tap into a resource that brings me back to the knowing that I lie here, free and healthy and stable beneath it all.
Beneath the trauma, swirling on top of me, lies me and my beauty, my freedom, my wisdom, my innocence, my gentleness, my compassion, my wounding, my openness, my trust.
It’s all there, constantly and unconditionally; it just can feel lost on days like today.
But words remind me it isn’t, I’m not lost, I’m coming home.
Words help me remember that.
Words do that.
Words find me, me.