November 27, 2021

Learning to Be Alone with the Ghosts of my Trauma.

Who am I if I am not in my past pain?

What do I carry and what do I put down if I want to move through the difficult things getting to the good?

My good and the good of others.

How do I hold it all without letting the sharp edges open the old wounds and fears while I step into a new understanding?

How do I end the nightmares and live a life without keeping the trauma alive?

How do I see and console the traumatized child within me and help her grow out and away from the memories that hold her hostage?

This Friday night I will be alone. For the first time in three years, I will spend a night by myself in our home. My husband is celebrating his friend’s birthday and will stay overnight in Philly.

It’s been years since he has stayed away overnight, and when he did, I always had our dog, Bradley, to get me through the thoughts and creeks that interrupted the silence of his absence while I barely slept with one eye open.

When my husband first told me about his plans, the little girl I work so hard to heal jumped up and stood full of fear before me. The girl with all the ghosts and terror broke into a cold sweat while hearing the news.

What? I will be alone in our house all night? Bradley is gone, so his keen sense of hearing will be gone too.

A thousand flashes of reasons why I should be afraid rolled through my head. I started to let myself go into a panic. I started thinking I should make plans for one of my daughters or maybe a friend to stay over.

Maybe I should plan a girl’s night—anything to not be here by myself.

The thought of being alone terrifies me.

I pictured myself sitting here inside while the house was surrounded by traumatic events of yesterday that turned into now as if they were going to break through and come in all at the same time.

The terror can feel so real and if I keep feeding it, I know it will grow. If I keep feeding it, it will become strong and it will control me.

But I can’t stay stuck with this beast. It has me held in a time and a place that don’t exist anymore.

It may seem ridiculous to most, this fear of being alone. The fear of a boogie man waiting to jump out and into reality, but if you’ve never had terror pulse through your veins, you wouldn’t know.

If terror wasn’t what you were born into, you wouldn’t have a problem deciphering the noises that the night can make. You wouldn’t sit in silence holding your breath while waiting for a figure to appear at the door.

Yes, bad things happened to me.

Yes, bad things happen to others too.

Yes, a bad thing can happen to anyone at some point, but it doesn’t feel good waiting in fear for something to happen again.

I realize I leave myself and my body with hyper-vigilant energy and go into memories of the past trying to protect the here and now.

Instead, I’ve decided I’m going to stay here—stay in my self and in my body.

I will spend this week leading to my Friday solo night reminding myself of who I really am.

I am not my trauma.

I am brave.

I am resilient.

I am a capable, strong woman who does hard things; I always have.

I am a 54-year-old woman, and God has kept me alive for a reason and I don’t believe the reason is for me to be a prisoner in a cell surrounded by things that are no longer here.

Who am I if I am not in my past pain?

I can’t wait to find out. And when I do, I will be sure to let you know.

And so it is.


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