Monday, August 11, 2008

Staying Connected

Today is a day of gratitude. Not just for "the sun, the moon and the apple seed" but for connections. Connections are hard for survivors of trauma. Connections require trust and they are things most people take for granted.

Connections are relationships - with God, with self, with others, with the world. And the challenge of feeling how I am related to the world is no small thing. I mean FEELING, not just knowing. I know I am connected. I am married. I have children. I work in a prison. I belong to a church. I am connected on the outside but inside, sometimes that's a different story.

The closest thing I can compare it to is being a burn victim. Your nerve endings are shot, incinerated by the trauma of fire. When one has been through trauma, I'll speak for myself here, now that I have lived through abuse, my natural nerve endings seem to be singed. I look alright on the outside but inside I feel nothing. My brain registers danger and it's easy to feel disconnected and alone. It's a physiological response - the fight or flight response to the alarm of impending danger. And nothing feels so dangerous as connections.

The real challenge is staying connected to myself and this happens through my body. "The body heals the mind," says my therapist. As I tune into my breath or my pulse, I am reminded that my body is a creation and I, my soul, inhabits my body. I am joined to myself.

I wish it didn't take so much work but this new paradigm requires concentrated effort - the effort to remember that I am free of abuse and free of my past. And that leads me back to gratitude. To be grateful for what I know in spite of what I feel. Feelings are not facts and facts are not necessarily feelings. I know I am blessed. It's just a matter of remembering day by day.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A New Paradigm

So the book is out and people are reading it. Amazingly. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I thought I’d send it out like some castaway with a message in a bottle and wait to see if anyone found it.

Well, they have and the response has been kind of overwhelming. Not that I want to toot my own horn. But when you’ve been slogging your way through the dark alone, or almost alone, for years and come to find out that there ARE actually people out there who are listening, well, it’s time for a paradigm shift.

New paradigm. Sounds like the Age of Aquarius. What I mean is that I’m working on a new personal paradigm where my inner experience matches the outer one. The new outward experiences I’m enjoying like ones of affirmation, encouragement and acceptance.

Sure, I’ve gotten some criticism – people say the book is too hard a read, too painful, too raw. But that’s kind of the point of the whole thing – to help other people experience and then empathize with what I and many others like me have been through. Losing the Way is not for the faint of heart. Neither is the truth. I appreciate those who can weather the storm and lose their way with me, only to be found.

I’m not saying I’m any kind of great writer. I’ve just written a book which I hope will serve as a cautionary tale for those who give their whole hearts, souls minds and strengths to anything or anyone other than the Ultimate. That’s the bottom line. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” As a former idolator, as a member of the human race, I figured I had something to say. I never figured so many people would listen.