Nobody prepares you for trauma. Nobody tells you how twisted and entangled it can become and how resiliently it holds hearts captive despite the years of fighting to be freed from it. For me, trauma was a beautiful monster. On the outside, it appeared nostalgic, whimsical, and filled with love. However, internally it was the creature that crept into the deep caverns of my soul and I was hostage to it for years following the initial incident. I remember not breathing when I looked at white cars. I remember tensing to another person’s touch. I remember empty, emotion-less nights. After all, if I let there be one hole in the dam, the entire infrastructure might collapse. I remember a marble-like perfection – perfection that took hours of makeup application, hair curling, and coffee to mask the bags under my eyes from a sleepless night. Nobody prepared me for trauma.
Everybody tells you that self-medication never works. Everyone says that but I decided to try it anyway. Hours on Google taught me about natural vitamins and minerals with few side effects that would miraculously dissolve my depression for only three small payments of $89.99. Hundreds of websites later led me to the medicine aisle of my local CVS store where I was making the decision between purchasing St. John’s Wort or 5-HTTP vitamins. Nobody told me that 5-HTTP has a side effect of severe migraines and a low probability of actually working. Naturally, none of the pills or self-administered treatments did anything for me. Externally, I raved about the ridiculousness of alcoholism and “ending it all” in one big leap off of the nearby parking garage, though in my heart the prospect was appealing. The thoughts swam around in my brain for the duration of the next few months. Everyone had told me that self-medication never works.
I found the beginning of my healing in the eyes of an elderly man on the doorstep of an elderly church. I remember the despair of hearing his words, “Oh, I’m sorry. Church ended already. Our hours change from summer to fall”. I remember the sheer relief that washed over me as he then said, “But please come in. Let me introduce you to some people.” I shook bony hand after bony hand, all the while feeling safer than I had felt in a long time. I was sent away toting a paper bag of food and church information CDs. It was the beginning of my healing.
The year following was filled with the sharing of my tale to anyone with willing enough ears to listen. It was filled with an emptying of my emotional junk to others who would then help me to carry it to the metaphorical dumpster, never to be seen again. Or so I thought.