The Tomb and The Phoenix
“You have seen my decent. Now watch my rising.”
As cliché as this analogy might seem on Easter Sunday, it also holds big meaning for me in my own recovery from trauma. I have made it very clear that I’m not a big ‘religious’ person per se. However, I do have a belief system. I’m just not one that wears my spiritual beliefs on my sleeves any more than I flaunt my education. Everyone has a spiritual belief system even if one says they don’t have one, which in itself is a belief. Anyway, moving on….
One thing I’ve always understood is that psychology and religion more often than not, DO NOT agree on much. Throw in a little Greek mythology and you’ve got a ‘hot mess’ for discussion for those with a closed mind. I encourage you to have an open mind as I attempt to make a comparison/analogy from the standpoint of someone recovering from trauma. I am in no way trying to offend anyone, as I respect that everyone has their own beliefs. This blog always has been and always will be about ME and MY family’s journey. If you find yourself starting to get somewhat annoyed, please refer back to paragraph #2.
artist: Shannon Renshaw
As I think about Easter Sunday and what it has meant and still means for many, I want to attempt to describe to you where exactly I am and how I believe this morning as I continue to face my trauma. As a child, I remember having Easter baskets left by the Easter bunny the night before in our living room for us to find first thing Sunday morning. Ironically, I always seemed to get the same kind of candy and knick-knacks year after year. I think the Easter bunny must’ve had some kind of secret ‘happiness meter’ that was used every year. So…..”Easter bunny mom” remembered that gold brick eggs, Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Easter colored M&M’s became the norm in my basket. The night before, as a family, we would usually be dyeing eggs and watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth. This is still one of my favorite classics old as it may be. So this morning, I wait for our little 3 foot tall cuteness to awake and see what the Easter bunny brought him last night.
As an adult, the foundations of beliefs are the same but have a slightly different twist in a way that makes complete sense to me. The question is….”Do I believe in the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection?” My answer is undeniably yes. There’s not a traumatic event in my lifetime that can come close to destroying that belief for me. I was taught this at a very young age and is something that I still hold on to. I don’t flaunt this because I feel that this is very personal for each person. I also do not try and change anyone else’s beliefs. Once again, I’m spiritual not religious so, my beliefs are somewhat different and are not exactly popular back in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the Deep South. Oh, don’t get it bent, I have ‘beef’ with God for things that have happened to me as I’m sure most people who believe in God have also had at some point in their own lives.
After 2014 and the beginning of 2015, I have really had to do some ‘soul searching’ on several different levels. Having lost numerous friends and family this past year in a variety of ways can lead to, somewhat, deep thinking at times. Losing Sarah while subsequently leaving a void in my heart has really brought back a lot of memories of things she use to tell me. One thing that has always stood out that she told me was, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.” This, my friends and family, is why I continue to stay on this very difficult and very frightening journey.
The Phoenix, in Greek mythology, was a bird that arose from the ashes of darkness. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was later adopted as a symbol in early Christianity. While the phoenix typically dies by fire in most versions of the legend, there are less popular versions of the myth in which the mythical bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again.
On Easter Sunday the representation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave is celebrated. While this is important to me, so is the representation of the phoenix. I personally feel that I will, in time, also begin my own rise from the depths of trauma and despair. While in the midst of traumatic flashbacks, memories, migraines and all the other symptoms that come along with a lifetime of abuse, it’s very difficult to keep this in perspective. Some days, all I want to do is just lie down and die. I often wonder why I keep trying when my efforts seem futile sometimes.
I can say that the love that Sarah and other people have had and continue to have for me in this time when I’m unable to love myself, somehow, has become a motivation tactic. That’s not to say that I don’t get tired and life doesn’t continue to beat us up. Coach Nick Kolinsky always taught me to NEVER give up until the game is over. And well…..the game is nowhere near being over. I know how to survive only one way, when I get knocked down, I get back up. That’s how I made it through my abuse and that’s how I’ll recover from my abuse.
Sarah would often times remind me, “Dana, you didn’t become maladaptive over night. You’ve had years of perfecting this. Likewise, you won’t recover overnight. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.” Yes, there were some 12-Step influences in her thoughts. That was exactly who she was. She would always help keep things in perspective for me. She was also one of the few that I actually would listen to. Oh, how I love and miss the special ways that she managed to get through the tough outer covering of my thick skull.
As my painful and gut wrenching recovery continues, I have the warmth of her words to guide and comfort me. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t give everything I have to be able to consult her one more time. My tears for her loss continue to flow even now. Sometimes, I have to imagine what she would say to me if we did have that one last conversation. And this is what I believe she would say…”Dana, my child, pick yourself up and continue to move forward in every way possible. There are people that are in your life both physically and spiritually to guide you through this process. You are going through changes which are part of recovery. This process has never been easy for anyone and you’re not the exception. I will always be with you as I have always been. Do the work and rise to be the great therapist that I know you can be.”
And with that….off to work I continue to go.