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Befriending the Trauma: A Personal Account

Befriending the stranger within has been my theme and life motif for the past few months it seems. I’ve asked God for life, for a honeymoon faze with Liz and for deeper connection with myself, Bina and friends. It seems his answer has been to turn inward and love and listen to myself, that which is strange, naked, lonely, angry and scared within.

Last week Liz and I discovered that we had both had a strongly similar dream that revolved around a communion chalice and plate in our home. Thought the role of the communion set played in our dream it came to my mind several times throughout the day as to what the dreams could have meant.

The following Sunday at counseling when we felt that we weren’t really digging into the core of what we needed to discuss I decided to bring up these dreams. Upon describing my dream to Dr. Galindo asked me, “And what is the significance of this communions set?” I couldn’t recall so I looked at Liz and for her memory. I had assumed she had brought into our marriage (since she had a lot more significant and cool stuff that I did). Liz looked at me and said, “The set was from our wedding.” Immediately we both turned away from each other into tears of shame.

I’ve continued in a state of thankfulness that God gave us a dream that would help us step into the moth painful caverns of our marriage. I thought that dream was about something deep but it was truly about something much deeper. In asking God for a honeymoon faze he hasn’t given us something that we can have now and move forward with but he is gifting us our past, our broken dreams, our hopes differed. He is turn our sadness to joy not by pruning us but by restoring our root system.

Dr. Galindo invited us and we accepted to step into a new era of our marriage. We are both open to reliving those painful memories that Liz primarily holds due to my dissociative and PTSD state. She has agreed to engage those memories trusting that she is worth remembering and that my memory isn’t about her worth but is about my PTSD. I have agreed to ask questions when I don’t remember something and trust Liz to tell me gently and without judgement.

The following night, my subconscious was very active. I had dreams on dreams. Traumatic symbols and healing metaphors wrapped themselves on each other all night it seemed. Here are the elements listed:

Random stranger walks into a restaurant and punches me

A father figure held and comforted me afterwards

I slept in a pack n play with poop & peed in public (excrement and urination in dreams often points to subcounsious activity coming to the conscious levels or “shit” that has been clogging us up coming out. It also points healing.

I drove a mobile home down a street (not sure what significance is here).

I policeman did pull me over but I did not feel freighted once I realized he as in a Smart car. I felt in control in the presence of authority.

Yesterday, on my way to the bank I had a run-in with a construction sign holder who held up the wrong sign and nearly lead me through an intersection where I would have been t-boned. She screamed at me to stop never realizing that it was her mistake. This experience stuck with me all day but not in the same debilitative  sense. At the end of the day I realized that though I screamed at her I never really went to shame. It was definitely a grace I was on the phone with Liz and when she heard me scream she couldn’t help but laugh.

Last night, I sat with God very briefly and whether it was my soul or God I felt deep down these words: I love this mixed bag.

I read recently that those afflicted with PTSD deal not only with the traumatic event they continually experience but also the shame of how they handled that experience. I’ve known for a while that healing for me would come through accepting my belovedness but this has often created another layer of shame because it has always become another should in the midst of my anger.

But last night I had a deep sense that I am a mixed bag. I bless and I curse, I love deeply those who wronged me and hate that who haven’t (and visa verse). I can be so warm to Liz and push her away at the first sight of humiliation or rejection.

My mixed-bag-ness is becoming beautiful to me. I don’t hate it but I am growing in thankfulness for it. I think it is beautiful to others to and even funny. My wounded self is not only growing in welcome to me but he is also welcomed by Liz and my closest friends. As he engages these relationships he grows in the ways he needs to; in the ways he never has.

I am finding this part of me has a lot to say about God. He knows so much of his faithfulness, gentleness and love. As we’ve become better friends I see how he cares for those who’ve experienced trauma and how he guides them into their own trauma.

I am learning in many ways how it is my soul is a vine that produces fruit. Christ says, I am the vine, you are the branches. Remain in me and I will remain in you. The beauty is we do not need to go searching for this rare vine that is the the fountain of life. We merely need to listen to those parts of us, of our soul, of our emotions that we do not love and rather get rid of. If we can stand to have even an introduction to these parts our self we will find the vine, for Jesus will be found in the “least of these”within.