Learning to trust within a healing, unpredictable body.

A young lady looking out a window inside her bedroom

I have been writing and re-writing this post, hoping to gain the courage to publish it, but I wasn’t ready to be honest. Recently I’ve been working with my therapist on some of my deepest hurts and consequences of trauma, and I believe that helped me with this particular post.

Let’s talk about trust, more specifically how that has been broken not necessarily by people, rather my body, and the circumstances from within that I cannot control.

I am not a trusting person anymore. I suppose I was once, but that is a trait I lost in the last decade or so. How can I be expected to trust the external world around me, when the very vessel I reside in is dangerous, unpredictable, and potentially fatal? This for so many with chronic illness(es) is our reality.

How am I to trust the world when I don’t even trust an extension of myself?

As I’ve matured, I understand it isn’t enough to say “this is how I am” and continue with life. No. I have to confront it; I must acknowledge it in order to heal and move on. Learning to trust my body has been a process, though. From the VP Shunt in my head, to the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy, there is a lot to unpack.

The Shunt in my head is the device that keeps me alive, but it has also been the source of the fight for my life at times; ironic, isn’t it?

My family remembers more than I do, but I remember two situations in the last twelve-ish years where I had to fight for my life. One was a post surgical infection that landed me in Boston Children’s.I only remember when the paramedics showed up. The five days that followed are a missing hole in my memory- I remember (briefly) having to undergo a pelvic ultrasound, but that is all.

The second was the event that occurred when I was twenty, which I have been a little more vocal about, recently. Again, as a result of post-surgical complications (and not being taken back to the O.R immediately, which I screamed for all night) I was a few hours from death. I remember that night clearly: the pain, the screaming, the one nurse who got in trouble for calling the surgeon, and my mother asking the next morning, “how am I supposed to explain this to her? You almost killed her!” 

 

Each of those situations are clear examples of why I do not trust my body, and consequently, struggle to trust the world. For those that say, I don’t understand, I’m glad you don’t. It means you feel safe within your body and environment, however, that is not something I feel. That’s the truth, and it is comforting to admit that. That does not mean, though, that it is not meant to be worked through. 

I acknowledge that the complicated relationship I have with my body does impact how I relate to the world and others. I also acknowledge that in knowing myself, if I don’t heal from this, people in my life will suffer because of this. These are the three things that are (currently) helping me nurture trust within myself, and the world.

  1. Embrace the entire journey with my body, which means the good, the difficult, and sometimes, almost deadly. I can no longer hold onto the difficult or positive, only! I cannot pick out what I want. When I began to look at it as a whole picture, I no longer saw myself in broken, fragmented parts.
  2. Counseling has been extremely helpful for me especially in recent years. I once rebelled against the thought of support in this manner, but it is now something I do not out of obligation, but necessity- a part of my wellness. I tried to keep my experiences bottled up, locked away in a metaphorical box that went untouched, but it began to eat me up from the inside, until I blew. Now, knowing I have a safe place to unpack some of the most difficult parts of myself, I realize I am not broken or damaged- it also reinforces that I am safe. 
  3. Mindfulness. This is the one I struggle with most, but trying to stay present and grounded helps tremendously. If you would have told me nine years ago I would be able to work in an environment where all of my triggers are present (I now work at a hospital) I would have laughed. It is not easy, but telling myself that I am here, now, safe, and well, helps me stay grounded when the trauma threatens to sweep me away. 
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