"HUSH, LITTLE GIRL" - Breaking the Choke-Chain Around Trauma & Abuse
Updated: Aug 23
I have a terrible history of throttling myself with a choke chain in order to protect the not-so-innocent (and thereby myself, in some convoluted fashion). Now here I stand on the precipice again. Traditionally, I will convince myself that I have a honey-do list of more pressing things to do. I will turn away from that cliff of doom, because to jump off it…
Once it’s out there, you can’t unpost it.
Sure, you can take it down — and I did. Somewhere before 2010, I dismantled the entire blog I had created about my tangle with a drunk driver and its aftermath, because I was drowning in comments and correspondence from people who had really needed it.
What I needed was help.
I had become Miss Belly Thing, traveling the world for my dream career amidst ever-worsening brain injury symptoms. Then I lost my personal assistant and The Economy Happened. All that is no secret. I took down the blog with the intention of putting it back up in a medium where I had more control.
Now…what I had taken down was the redacted version.
The other reasons for the collapse of my career are wrapped inside the silk veils of censorship, not unlike the PTSD-laden reasons I had such a particularly difficult recovery after my first brain injury. I’ve only recently started admitting the full scope of that to my nearest and dearest, much less anywhere else.
In the time since posting about my first car wreck and its immediate aftermath, I have come to understand why I’ve never put these tales back up.
Because I had sworn an oath that if I ever did, this time I wouldn’t gut those episodes down to their most innocuous, glitter-encrusted Tales of an Overcomer’s Inspiration Rah-Rah.
Is my story of overcoming inspiring? I hear it is. Does the world neeeeeed to hear it? Shrug. Doubtful. Maybe? I dunno. I have quite a few posts on this blog about stage fright, artistic doubt, and the arts of being a chicken-shit. We'll be getting to way more of that as we go along, because those topics can’t help but come up when I open up about what’s important to me. I write and talk a lot about the creative process and the bravery — the vulnerability — it takes to put it out there. To put ourselves out there in general, as we really are. I’m a Brene Brown devotee and a Julia Cameron disciple. I 💖 Elizabeth Gilbert and I’m a fan of getting nekkid in the arena.
So here we go again.
Do you know how easy it was for me to post my first two episodes of The Crash Crap? (That’s what we call it in my family.) My mom had inadvertently pushed my Ferocious Fangs button by informing me of the trend to broadcast the locations of DUI checkpoints on social media over the holidays.
So this external motivation catapulted those suckers right out into the world in response. Ever since? Now there is the rest of the tale yawning before me like the Bog of Eternal Stench at the bottom of a steep joy-ride with no joy.
I mean parachute.
Do I need to tell these unspoken tales for me? Absolutely. They’ve been choking up my energetic throat for…well, let’s be honest. For over 40 years. Is it any wonder that my greatest injury is my neck? Is it any wonder that this injury adversely affects everything above and below, creating a chain reaction from which I’m still trying to extricate myself?
Not at all. Disease is just Dis-Ease, and injuries are often physical manifestations of what’s going on mentally, emotionally, and environmentally — both the internal and the external.
Yes, unclogging my primary communication center is necessary. It IS worthy.
But I can’t blather about it out here just for me. At that point, it always feels like whining, and apparently it is super-duper easy to believe that about me. That I’m a big milker-faker-liar who exaggerates my symptoms for attention.
Nope. I simply keep my happy arse home as often as possible when I’m symptomatic (huh…that seems to be a trend that the rest of the world is finally catching on about…what a concept), and I rarely discuss the depth of the reality to anybody.
Unfortunately, I have always had a tendency to hide the worst of it — sometimes even from myself.
Occasionally, my brain carves out and extracts memories from my conscious awareness, hiding them in a secret room of the labyrinthine fortress that is my mental landscape. The walls of those rooms are ten feet of concrete, smooth and seamless and backed by a layer of adamantium. Occasionally, the earthquakes that rock my land are so severe that the floor of my conscious mind crumbles, bringing these walls crashing down in one solid, un-fracturable piece.
Merry Christmas, kid. And lookie what was locked behind it: the rotting, festering carcasses of your lost self. Yaaaaay!
Do I live in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country, or world? Nope. I don’t have to worry about being knifed every second that I am outside my home, and I don’t have to worry about being stormed and held at gunpoint every second that I’m in my home.
Except, yes, I do — and most of that is in my head.
I am the worst predator to my own psyche I’ve ever met, because I have a brain that was baked into adulthood amidst stress chemicals induced by circumstances I couldn’t get myself out of, and I kept being told, “Oh, hush now. You’re being over-sensitive. It’s not that bad.”
But it was to me. I AM hyper-sensitive. Noise, touch, color, emotion, taste…I am an HSP. I am also empathic. At least, when I allow myself to be — when I’m not walking around with mental earplugs, horse-blinders, and a weighted woobie to dampen the world.
Occasionally, I’m prophetic. I know things nobody’s told me and I channel things nobody else sees. It’s one of the many ways I learn movement, and it happens sometimes when I’m writing. I’ll wake up four hours later with no clue who just took over my hands on the keyboard or what it was about until I read it. It’s definitely how I teach. I literally See energy running through people’s bodies, and between them. That’s why my students can wear oversized, shapeless T-shirts and I still know that their hips are out of alignment and they have low-back pain.
It’s also why I know when people are rolling their eyes behind my back and hurling eye-daggers at me, even though they smile when I turn around.
But not in their eyes, and not in their energy.
“Oh, you’re just so paranoid!”
Yup. But just because you’re paranoid…
Being so attuned to the connections within and between living things, it’s like nails on a chalkboard, nausea in my guts, and spears through my eyes when people act with cruelty or malice. It is debilitating to the point where I make myself the hermit in the woods, and I battle every hour of every day to feel like the world believes I have the right to breathe air.
I know I do.
That’s not my problem.
My problem is that, when I was about five, I became convinced that the majority of humans out there think I don’t. Because I’m weird. Loud. Crazy. Psycho. Stooooopid. *Insert undesirable adjective here* I’m approaching fifty and I still get those labels thrust upon me with regularity.
And you have to be popular in order to gain access to the food.
Or else you have to become sneaky. Subversive. Manipulative. Or you have to be violent and yank-shove-boot those motherfuckers out of the way so you can sink your teeth into the carcass.
I don’t like doing it either of those ways. I’d rather play nice, but I haven’t known a whole lot of that reindeer game in my life, and now I hate that word. I have banished it from my self-descriptors.
I AIN’T FUCKIN’ NICE.
I am deeply kind and generous. Loving and forgiving. Affectionate and welcoming. Until I’m not.
While analyzing that trauma map flow-chart I put in the last post, I’ve been asking myself a lot lately: have I been through enough yet to stop being pooh-poohed? Written off? Called a weakling or a faker?
More so, have I been through enough to stop pooh-poohing myself?
Will the things I have to offer my society ever be enough? Cans I chompz carcass yet, even though I’m not one of the burly hunters dragging it home? Even though I’m not one of the gorgeous, buxom desirables that inspire the burlies to elbow everyone out of the way and deliver slabs of carcass to them on silver platters? Even though I’m not the primary cook or hide tanner or clothing sewer or house builder or wood gatherer or berry gatherer or enemy spearer or wound sewer or any of their cadre of underlings?
Heck, I’m not even the medicine woman in the center of the village.
Nope. I’m that weirdo who gazes into the flames, goes into a trance, and tells everybody what they don’t wanna hear. I’m that tragically hot chick with too much weird shit swirling inside her to have room for stuffing the personality of one’s dream girl into, so I must be called down and shunned because with an offense like that, you can’t just let it be. Society must be warned about the likes of me, for everybody’s good.
Dastardly, ne’er-do-well, belly dancin’, butt-whuppin’, loud-mouth freaks.
Where’s the torch?
Because I’ve never learned to paint, but I channel cave scenes nobody understands and that I don’t fully know how to translate. I speak in tongues, sometimes with my hands. What comes out my mouth gets me labeled “crazy” and so I’ve learned how to make soup from what’s left of the wild animals’ carcasses. The buzzards think I’m one of them. They let me wear their feathers in my hair.
I live way out on the fringes. A few kind members of the village leave charitable donations and really sweet presents for me. A select few will place them directly into my hands and drink my tea — without dying or going insane themselves, even! They even invite me to their homes, which is a particular treat for my closet social butterfly self.
Every once in awhile, somebody comes by looking sheepish because they remember those fire-trances and how everything I said eventually came true (even though nobody wants to admit that). They ask me to read their tea leaves, and I warn them that I won’t speak it pretty anymore just so somebody might let me eat.
Some of them take it well. Some don’t. Some flip me the bird and tell me I’m off my rocking horse until next year when they remember that everything I said came to pass. Then they come skulking back for this year’s prophesy. I charge them double and they take it up the bunghole, muttering through gritted teeth, “Thank you, Mistress, may I have another?” (Hey, I always use lube.)
(Okay, I usually use lube.)
The prom queen pretends that she doesn’t have a few of my black feathers tucked away in the secret compartment of her jewelry box with the other secrets of her heart.
The biggest, baddest hunter has only ever confided to me that he masturbates to the cave paintings drawn of the geeky guy who invented the wheel.
I also happen to know that Wheel-Guy longs for Pottery-Master’s Granddaughter, even though he has never breathed a word to anyone. I’ve just…Seen it. (She secretly crushes on him, too, and someday they’ll make beautiful babies and a revolutionary pottery wheel that will earn them many fine carcasses, feathers, and hides.)
All these things I know— I don’t blab about anybody’s secrets, because that would be bad form.
But I have started to tell the secrets of my own heart. To annihilate another layer of Nice and stop choke-chaining myself out of fear of “throwing someone under the bus.” Shrug. Shouldn’t have thrown me out that window, should you?
Something is changing within me as a result — and without (it is Law) — so I’ll keep going.
My cave paintings may not make sense to you. Heck, they may not be a message for you at all. They may be a message for your granddaughter who’s not born yet. Maybe you’ll remember what I wrote sixty-three years from now. Maybe someone will unearth it two-hundred-and-sixty-three years from now and say, “Ah-hah! Thanks! I needed that key!”
Or maybe that post I wrote over there — maybe that one was only told for my benefit.
I’m a firm believer in putting one’s oxygen mask on first, so in a round-about way, yes, it does too benefit you.
I’ve gone back and forth about merely mentioning that trauma map as a general, “This is the box of tangled spools my brain injury dumped all across my kitchen floor, and that made it much harder for me to deal with those injuries,” and then returning to the recovery tale itself. I considered finishing that story before coming back to what’s in the map.
But I’m also a devotee of Scheherazade, and in order to understand some of the tools and revelations I discovered while healing, in order to understand who died in that crash and who took her place/was reborn from the ashes, in order to understand how I do what I do — and why — we have to go further down.
I have to actually let you know who I am.
Next Up: A little taste of — *static on the radio station*
WE INTERRUPT OUR NORMAL BROADCAST WITH…. A PANDEMIC. YAAAAAY!!!
The next posts are totally related to what we were talking about, I assure you. But in my classic Scheherazade fashion, now you get to have a firsthand glimpse of how all the Tools & Toys I have acquired in my grand adventure (it starts here, if you’re just tuning in) have allowed me to weather things like social isolation, financial collapse, and being stuck treading water while your entire life is put on hold — at a catastrophic time when you really need things to move forward quickly.
Up Next: My tried and true response to catastrophe--HUMOR.
Or if you're tired of thinking about microscopic badasses, you can skip ahead to where I get back to working my way through that trauma map and reclaiming a life of my own choosing.