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Published: November 10th 2019
I am being hooked up to this machine and the buttons are set to the proper frequency when I am told, with a casually flippant manner, “just sit here for 20 minutes. Don’t do anything. Don’t move. Just sit.” The reward for obeying this demand? Hopefully my neck, head and shoulders will stop feeling like they were part of a car accident in which the rest of my body was unaware.
Just sit for 20 minutes? Sounds easy to anyone unaware of my growing To Do list. Sounds easy, except right now, it is not. I know I should take this time to engage in meditation, maybe even just focus on my breathing, but that is not happening. Not today at least. Instead, of course, I spend my time trying to figure out how I got myself into this mess in the first place.
Knowing I have not encountered any physical trauma, I begin by attacking what I have not been doing for my body. I scold myself for not being at the gym in weeks, okay more like months. I know I shouldn’t skip the cardio or the weight lifting and I make sure to take a moment
every day to make sure to mentally beat myself up over it. Could I be in such pain because I’ve avoided the gym?
The next most popular thing to blame is my job. About to reach the 20 year mark of working in the trauma field and I can’t help but wonder if my prize is a neck I cannot turn. I have a caseload heavy with suicidal thoughts, self harm tendencies and dangerous home environments. I have twice this semester had that “can I really do this anymore?” moment, but they seemed fleeting and I was back at it without issue the following day. I do all the things you must do to be a long time therapist. I live outside of my profession. I seek supervision. I self reflect. I have self care rituals. Surely doing all of this would keep my body protected from work related stress. Besides, the thought of not having a paycheck or insurance makes my entire body stiffen, not just my neck and shoulders.
Or could it be something else? I can’t push away the thought that the body never forgets trauma. The last 12 months have been marked by so
much loss, it has left my emotions feeling riddled with holes. The loss of loved ones, friends, colleagues and my dearest animal friends in shocking, unexpected and one-in-a-million chance tragedies has become a tale too complicated to follow. I stopped mentioning the losses because I knew it sounded almost made up with the frequency of being delivered bad news.
Although I do not commemorate or note the anniversaries of these dark moments, reminders keep finding their way into my awareness. The first gut wrenching loss happened a year ago while I was visiting Pushkar Camel Fair in India and I am reminded of what I constantly tell my clients, the body does not forget. You may not consciously think about the date of a life changing event, but your body starts remembering and punches you in the gut when you least expect it. And when the tears fall for one loss, it seems they then start falling for all the losses. In my case, right now, that makes for a flood of tears.
The thing is, you still have to deal with it and keep moving. You cannot avoid loss and those of us not born into wealth
cannot avoid having a job. (I guess I am proof you can avoid the gym, but that is another story for another day.) So what do you do? Do you end up feeling the emotions physically? Or do you just assume it is something completely different causing me to be sitting here hooked up to this machine? I will keep seeking solutions, but I will not for one minute shrug it off as a side effect of aging.
Maybe this 20 minute blink of time is indicative of something else. Maybe it’s that message I need to make sure I am healing myself. This desire to get away from this machine and the prison cell feeling of being told I cannot leave or do anything is suggesting I need to really get up and leave. Leave in a big way. Leave with a passport.
There is nothing that rejuvenates me more than world travel (well, except maybe camels.) Adventure, exploring and seeing the world heals me spiritually, opens the gates for creativity, challenges the routine and cleans the slate. When I am traveling, deadlines lose their power, problems shrink in size and perspective swells with gratitude.
get me wrong, this trip to India is a welcome excursion, but it is not my Eat Pray Love moment. Well, except for the eating part. There will be lots of eating because Lord knows I love to eat!
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