Sometimes healing can do more than heal… it can redefine you.
Some years ago, when I was in my late sixties, I awakened in the depths of the night from a nightmare. In the dream, 5 or 6 year-old me was running through a heavily wooded area. I was holding my younger sister’s hand and almost dragging her behind me as she was resisting me vigorously. In the dream we had somehow managed to escape from a gathering of men who were about to use us in whatever ways they desired and for some reason, my sister was resistant to my attempt to free us. I couldn’t imagine why, in the face of what I knew would be dreadful.
The nightmare was, unfortunately, reality based.
Soundly asleep though I had been, my body was vigorously acting out the motions of running as I lay there on my side. Then I felt something heavy on top of me… it was my husband, attempting to simultaneously soothe me while also trying to contain me as, despite his efforts, I was still deeply engaged in dream and was fighting him off as well.
I’d had an acupuncture appointment earlier that day in an attempt day to clear up some annoying intestinal issues. It was my first visit to this practitioner who had come highly recommended. I had told her nothing of my childhood history, only about the fairly ordinary days preceding the intestinal event. Something she had done, though, had clearly set some very old, very deep-seated, and long forgotten/suppressed emotional memories free. I determined to visit her again to see if she might assist me with the still present but mostly latent memories that my body was had been carrying despite various therapeutic approaches.
On my next appointment with the acupuncturist, I shared the history of having been, along with my closest sister, sexually trafficked by our maternal grandfather. He’d felt free to do that to us as we both had coloration that spoke more of our father’s Cuban heritage than his. We were not Caucasian-looking.
That first, very body-related acupuncture, ended up leading to almost monthly visits, visits that were focused on relieving my body of the burden of the long-suppressed abuse. Just about four years later, it felt as if we had accomplished the task I’d set for us. I felt that I was done. I hadn’t had a nightmare in a couple of years and random flashbacks had ceased. We agreed that I was, in fact, in a very good space.
With the newfound freedom I’d been granted I’d even been able to produce — after many false starts — a book based on my life (which is now appearing in monthly installments on Medium). Prior to that I’d already written four useful books on self-healing work. They’d all been published by a reputable spiritually-based publishing company but I hadn’t been able to write a book about me as “me,” that was too close for comfort. Each time I made an attempt to begin, I would be restless at night, unable to fall asleep. It came to me, though, one morning during my daily yoga practice, that if I wrote the book as if I were writing it about someone else that I might be able to do it. That turned out to be true. The process was as effortless as polishing a car after you’ve washed it.
That said, though, a few weeks after finishing I found myself in a very strange place, mentally. I felt as if I sort of didn’t know who I was because there I sat, 75 years old, and for most of those years, despite the image I showed and shared with the world, despite all the therapy and healing I’d engaged in, I was still, inside, an abused child… and now I’m not… I am simply the older person that I seem to be. Perhaps it’s time to embrace myself as the helping person I have been and still am, and the author and artist that I’ve been functioning as for the past couple of decades.
I can be a little slow to catch on sometimes… that, apparently, hasn’t changed a bit!