Breathing in the blowback.
That line comes from a song written by The Killers, I see myself in it. I did a hard thing, I was brave. What I am about to share is also brave.
Not only did I survive a childhood of terror and trauma, as a preteen I was assaulted by a man the summer after sixth grade. He took me to the woods and held a knife to my neck and told me to drop my pants.
Which, in the fear of the moment I had pooed. This made him disgusted and angry and instead of raping me he called me a bitch and punched me so hard in the face that my wafer-thin body slammed to the ground. I got up and I ran away from him, but the terror still lives deep in me.
Just as the words a neighborhood kid shared only days after I was attacked. Her mother said that I had deserved it, “I was just trash after all.”
My entire body trembles as I write this and my heart is pounding, still after all this time. Because only in the past 10 years have I started to process what happened in my childhood. I have tucked away 40 years of unprocessed pain and shame. So many moments are filled with a life of dissociating.
It’s only been in the past 10 years that I’ve started to heal little by little.
Then four years ago, on a beautiful fall day, I was walking my leashed golden retriever when we were attacked by a German shepherd. It was horrifying.
Being attacked was like living my traumas all over again, in stereo. It woke up all the things inside that I had put away, all the pain and all the shame suddenly came alive inside my head.
From the time our dog was a puppy, I would find such peace watching him run on the beach. Living in the moment was healing for me. Our sweet boy is gone almost three years now, but, after we were attacked, I couldn’t walk him anymore. I had such a hard time that even if my husband walked him that I couldn’t join in.
The attack put my hyper vigilance in overdrive—in every part of my life.
All the things I buried, all the things that people tell you are in the past, all the things that they say to get over, they all come back to life when we don’t heal.
We lost our dog to cancer a year after the attack. We haven’t looked for a new one because I want to be a whole, calm partner while loving and training a new puppy. Mostly because I don’t want to project my fear onto a new dog.
The picture here shows that I am healing. It shows that I am brave.
Yesterday I walked the beach where we use to take our dog. I saw the dog beach ahead of me, there must have 20 dogs: big ones and little ones—and of course, a German shepherd.
I was listening to an audiobook by Glennon Doyle, UNTAMED, on high volume, paying attention to her voice, staying with her while I walked past the dogs in the water, some rolling in the sand.
I stayed with my breath, I stayed in myself with myself. I had made it past them and as I held my head up and breathed in, I told myself you are brave and I was proud.
Then, I felt someone behind me, it was this guy. This dog left his owner and the dog beach and he followed me, I stopped walking and he leaned in against me.
He started to walk back toward the dog beach, then stopped and looked back at me as if to say, “Do you see? You can do hard things, Dianna; you have been doing hard things your whole life. Keep going.”
I followed him back to his owner and the rest of the dogs. I asked to take a picture with him.
When I look at the picture now I am so proud.
I see myself.
I see my infant self.
I see my child self, my teenage self, my girl self, and woman self in this picture.
For the first time I do not see trash.
I see beautiful strong brave and loving Dianna.
I am so grateful to have found a good therapist.
I am so grateful to be able to share reiki, to share the light that is within me.
Sharing my light reminds my clients of their own light when things get dark.
I am a healer and I am healing.
I’m healing the fetus in my mother’s womb from the rage and beatings she endured.
I’m healing the infant who was thrown screaming into darkness with hands of wild anger.
I’m healing the toddler who learned to leave her body to be held safe in the light.
I am healing the child whose body lived in the center of chaos and war while her soul was soothed by God’s grace.
I am healing the kid whose hypervigilance could sense it coming so she could play dead.
I’m healing the girl, the teenager who split in two to save apart of herself she didn’t know.
I’m healing the mother who wishes she knew what she knows now.
I am healing the woman who used alcohol to escape when she felt misunderstood or threatened, only to feel more misunderstood.
I am healing this woman with the abundant light that has always been there.
I am a healer and I am healing.
Title inspiration from Glennon Doyle’s quote in UNTAMED:
“‘We can do hard things’ becomes my hourly life mantra. It is my affirmation that living life on life’s own absurd terms is hard. It isn’t hard because I’m weak or flawed or because I made a wrong turn somewhere, it is hard because life is just hard for humans and I am a human who is finally doing life right. ‘We can do hard things’ insists that I can, and should, stay in the hard because there is some kind of reward for staying. I don’t know what the reward is yet, but it feels true that there would be one, and I want to find out what it is. I am especially comforted by the We part. I don’t know who the We is; I just need to believe that there is a We somewhere, either helping me through my hard things or doing their own hard things while I do mine.”