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  • Writer's pictureAmy Sosne

Life is a waterfall...

Always pretty, always moving forward, sometimes levels are low and sometimes the levels are so high that it looks like things are going too fast. But, life is always better with those you love and with those you love the waterfall looks prettier and less intimidating.

Transformation occurs at any point when one is either forced to surrender to that which is just not humanly in their control anymore or when one comes to terms with just what this rat race of life is and embraces it instead as a puppy who takes a sprint, smiles with tongue sticking out and taking in the view of the terrain and of playmates, only to play again, jump into a cold splash of water for refreshing and jump out, oblivious of anything outside of their mindful walk and then expresses unconditional love to their human best friend who is always anxious and in a rush, does not sprint, smile, breath, view, splash, play. A puppy can only wonder why? Why is this human such a downward-facing dog without embracing the openness and upwardness, optimism of an upward-facing dog? Just as I write this, I realize that I have run-on sentences, my punctuation is not flawless, and I’m judging my blogging – a puppy, nah – they would never do that – a puppy eagerly sniffs, tastes, bites into something, shreds something in order to explore without thinking about the ramifications. Not that I’m condoning puppy behavior, but when do we let ourselves loose to explore, make poor decisions, and rectify them without judgment?

I’ve had 9 surgeries in my life and I’m 39 and 8 of those surgeries have happened in the past 11 years. Many very serious surgeries where I’ve been compromised, felt like death was hovering over like a white light in the midst of a fog of indescribable voices and paralyzing mental and physical sensations. Two surgeries have been in the last 8 months and they all have effected my family pack and the mother, friend, and wife I am. In some respects the physical trauma of the surgeries that have left visible scars is almost easier to believe and harder to deny and disconnect than physical and emotional traumas of assaults and trauma that leaves emotional invisible scars. It is easier to feel removed without the physical reminders of trauma and of permanence.

Resiliency is in getting back up, moving forward, but it is not in pretending that nothing has happened, that is a coping skill that at its extreme is just as unhealthy if not even worse than turning to drugs or alcohol, which are so maladaptive that the world crumbles around and one is forced to lose everything or get help, recenter, and transform. Resiliency, hyperfunctioning in a fight or flight mode, and numbing oneself to strong emotions that arise when thinking about trauma, are efficient methods of coping with trauma. However, over time it becomes impossible to even recognize the emotions and how they are connected to trauma and in many ways the humanity of a being is taken away.

Fear of the lack of control that when used in excess someone can get from use of these alternative escapes from facing reality as a result of several traumatic and life threatening assaults against me, long ago rendered me sufficiently effected by PTSD and OCD enough to need to maintain control and to be hyper vigilant at all times.

When things and unfortunate accidents or just bad luck happens over and over, there’s a search for something that one must have done wrong, a plea with a higher entity even if one is not so religious, what did I do wrong? Why? There’s a feeding into rituals and perseveration over worst case scenarios, which though have a true OCD diagnostic flavor, are really also in the mind supported and reinforced by always being in that less than 1 percent.

There’s the disappointment in oneself for brief moments of feeling scared at something that can’t be controlled. Like I have so many times; paralysis becomes the physical manifestation of fear that we can’t control. I have in many ways become numb to fear since I have learned that it is not part of my survival. To me (and I’m not condoning or advocating this) numbness is survival of such horrible things that can happen to you mentally that they become incomprehensible that it’s you in the flashbacks of such traumatic memories.

Flashbacks, memories, sensations that just come up disconnected to anything that you are experiencing, anger - eventually the numbness and the pushing forward allows for enough burial of demons that one can simply never visit that horrible graveyard but without recognition of that which was lost and “buried;” dignity, trauma to our body, trauma to our sense of self, dehumanization, humane fear and suffering and anxiety. Without this paying homage to the incomprehensible emotions that arise from these horrible sufferings, recognition and integration of these horrible moments that are still part of you and of the young girl in fear, the young woman who loses babies and nearly dies holding them, the young mother who has the miracle of another child and the so many miracles of continued life after surgical obstacles, assault obstacles, fears… this woman becomes hyperactive, almost mechanically efficient, and sensitive to the needs of others because they deserve it and because of wanting to prevent pain in others.

I don’t actually even know what my needs are, and I’m numb and eerily calm in crisis, I have long buried pain and closed the gate to the graveyard. I look at things as I looked at my arm the day of my skiing accident with Henry looking over me and crying; what is that limb? Whose arm is that? It’s not mine, because I don’t feel it – I try to wiggle my fingers and have some connection between my mind and body to complete such a basic action, but there is no connection. My big bone in the upper arm moves up and down and the forearm and fingers in front of me lie dead, without movement, not mine. My arm stayed completely numb for a week even after the surgery because of the nerve block. My ring finger and pinky finger remained numb for far longer; not mine. Even to this day, there is connection, but the feeling is not the same; it is different and there is pain and I find it very hard to feel like this is really my limb. This heavy, tingly, metal and filled with screws, bruised, and slightly deformed limb is mine? Really?

A woman who remains unable to cry and continues days filled with work, mothering, and being as far away from that graveyard as possible for fear that she might lay there among the dead as the only living member in exquisite pain.

I had a turning point a couple of weeks ago; and I’m only writing this to hold myself accountable; I need to make room to visit the grave, nurture it with flowers, water the flowers, pause and be in the moment as that young girl who didn’t cry, young woman and mother so ambitious to want a family, love, to make others not suffer in silence, but to blossom into a woman whose roots and trunk are sturdy enough to weather any storm, to grow leaves, to watch them fall, to look barren and grey, only to submerge with flowers and fruits and to perhaps even shed tears like the weeping willow.

We all tend to do this; bury the difficult, the pain, the ugliness that infects our lives at times. The world is a carnival and playground when looking at social media, photo albums, and other testimonials to celebrations and accomplishments and strengths that we wish to highlight on display for others to see. But we don’t express and therefore cannot fully embrace the scars, turmoil, and

difficulties with accepting what we’ve been through; I cover it - the internal and external. I’ve been doing a lot of writing but it is just words and I still can cover up. It’s only in the shower alone that I feel the pure water wrapping and cleansing my scars, safe.

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