James Taylor’s melancholy Fire and Rainwhich laments the unexpected loss of a friend, and I now think of the loss of integration of trauma when I hear him sing “sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.”
In a way, that is what trauma does to us. Our dreams break apart, perhaps because they weren’t very realistic but sometimes because we don’t have time to realize them because we’re so busy trying to figure out how to put ourselves back together. Sometimes, we just can’t recover all that we’ve lost. Sometimes, we lose our ability to fly because the pieces lay on the ground, smashed and broken because of what happened to us. We become no longer whole. We dis-integrate.,
Trauma taught me to aim for less lofty and attainable goals in real life, all while my heart mourned the loss of what I might have done if my flying machine of dreams had not been such a dis-integrated pile of rubble. Between that and the lies I believed because of trauma, I’ve aspired to do wonderful things, but I decided that I’d be pretty happy if the good I do just outweighs the stuff I screw up by just a little bit by the time I exit this life of mine. When you don’t aim very high, you don’t achieve very much, and I’ve made a career out of running around doing very attainable things. I stare up at the moon, but in sadness, I don’t reach for it. I think about the people that I always thought that I’d see again but know I likely wont. And I wonder if I ever had a pure moment when I dared to reach high, just because that’s what my heart wanted.
What is this thing called joy?
But this time around was a bit different. I found other daffodils of hope, and I think that I’ve healed enough and put to silence enough of the lies that I used to believe because of my trauma to hear a different song.
I won’t name them for you, but suffice it to say, I was greeted by many bright flowers of hope which came as the blessings and kind words of friends and respected associates who came from many places to remind me of things that I did right. I didn’t solicit them. I didn’t look for them, but they found me. I heard them. I embraced them and said, “Thank you.” I wonder if those who shared these encouraging words with me have any idea how timely they were or how much they meant and still mean to me. I wonder if such encouragements were there all along, but I just was not able to hear them – deafened by my own pain and shame. I guess that it doesn’t matter much. It all may have just been the fruit of love’s long labors to do what is right and good, and they just all came at once. And the most precious thing about them was that they came from the people whose opinons matter and mean the most to me.
I’ve made mistakes and hurt people – and they are usually the last people that I would ever want to cause any pain. But I think that is what being human is all about, and I have learned to be patient and kind with myself and with others in my regret. And I’m still learning. Sometimes, they are things that cannot be repaired or words that I cannot take back.
New Lessons Always
There are also those situations that I have not yet figured out where things like these new rumors seem to come at me with little provocation, or at least, they seem pretty disproportionate to the mistakes that I did make. Those who stir in what seems like malice offer me no chance to repent or make amends. So I am also learning new lessons about how to take responsibility for what is mine and to seize the opportunities that I do have to make amends for my wrongs. I must learn how to move forward without having resolution or any opportunity to ask forgiveness or seek a pardon. Some of that baggage is not mine anymore if others will not relinquish their resentment. Figuring all of that out while remaining safe and still vulnerable is much work sometimes. But it is getting easier, too.
And I’ve learned to celebrate the good and those daffodils of Spring, despite all of the crunchy brown leaves of days gone by at their feet. I can look back over the past few weeks and see that I do trust this process of healing – and if I can, it is possible for anyone. Daffodils survive forest fires and rain and winter’s snow. Those flowers in the woods aren’t hindered by the layers of leaves piled over the ground where they hide below the surface. And when it is time and it is safe for them, they raise their heads of joy to brighten my world. And on a good day, I’m beginning to believe that my own blossoms have not been for naught or unnoticed.
Cindy is a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
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