However, there's still love. And goodness everywhere, alight in corners. I have learned to stalk these things. They are stronger than evil as light is stronger than darkness and I have been sung to sleep many nights by them.
Healing is long work and violence so brute and short.
I thought it may be helpful for my friends and colleagues to occasionally hear a first hand account of the journey through the consequences of evil, trauma and abuse. It is certainly helpful for me to tell. For now I will list and unpack phrases that I think describe a bit of what I know to be the world of post-trauma.
For what they're worth, may they bless you and those whose faces you tend.
1| Conflict Vertigo.
ver·ti·go - a dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings.
Before the trauma I had an above average record for initiating, sustaining and surviving conflict with my self intact. I knew when to fight and when to fly.
After trauma, pervasive dizziness. All conflicts lost their aspect. Like a compass at the north pole I sometimes spin and can't find a point of reference. Mountains blend with valleys and I can't tell if I'm in a war or just a negotiation. I sometimes shout when I should whisper, whisper when I should shout, stay when I should leave. All the while my heart is beating like I am on a building's bare edge far above the hard earth. Though my mind knows otherwise, my heart anticipates violence and I am afraid.
This is a terrible bind. I lose sight of where I'm at and I'm just as likely to wound those that wish to love me as I am to love those that will further wound me.
2| People as events.
After trauma it sometimes feels as if each person is a new and large event that needs my attention. They cease to be people and become instead mysterious, intimidating occasions. I feel small and surrounded by giants. I can be acutely aware of even the strangers next to me in Chipotle. I can't give half attention. My heart can get overwhelmed with them as their presence fills up my inner atmosphere. (I think this is what is called in healing parlance 'hyper-vigilance'. I prefer my title. It makes more sense to me.) I get caught up in watching whoever is across from me and I do it intensely. But I'm also watching everything else - with my whole body. It feels natural. It just happens. My radar is always on. I don't think I would have caught this one if it weren't for honest friends asking me why I retreat from social interaction. It exhausts me. I can't forget the person standing behind me, even though I want to.
Yet, the curse is there, too. I can't walk through the market with my eyes closed. I often can't retreat into my inner world in social situations. The after-church milling about makes my back sweat.
It is a balancing act, being thankful and lamenting simultaneously. This is where I am at in my healing process. But thank God, I'm truly grateful for some of these costly gifts, the fruit of suffering. Occasionally I'm even thankful for the trauma itself. Is this redemption? I don't know, but if it isn't then the real thing is going to be extraordinary.