Wild Woman Wisdom: Celebrating the Wild Unknown
"Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health. safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives," asserts renowned Psychologist and PTSD expert, van der Kolk.
The disconnection one feels when their body and mind endure trauma is a very difficult thing to repair. It can take days, months, and even years before someone may even recognize that their ability to create and sustain human relationships has been compromised as a result of a trauma.
The tendency, as was my experience the first few times I experienced trauma, was to shut down any emotion that reminded my of "the incident". This went on for years and years until the pressure inside my brain blew the top of my head off, figuratively of course (although I did have suicidal ideation at times). But then comes the spark! A little flicker or a huge explosion, either way, when trauma strikes so too does the fire of consciousness- a powerful raw force that can flatten the strongest people to the ground. It can also help them rise to greater heights than they imaged was possible.
I have chosen to relate to my mental health issues as Wild Woman would- I will sing over the bones that keep the old stories of myself. The ones where I am a victim, or when I make a victim of another. I will howl at the moon until she, and I, settle into deserved rest Establishing an elemental relationship- that is something bound my the spiritual of ritual I am committed to the death side of life as I am those things that reflect back all that I want to see. I see the inner strength of women as a fossil my inner struggles as her instinctual imperative for survival.
It was as if there was a wild energy that the trauma had shaken loose in me. Although I often felt completely disconnected to my physical body (this was exacerbated by the regular use of Cannabis) it was that disconnection and isolation from habitual reality that created the shift that I needed to heal.
I have experienced only a marginal amount of trauma compared to so many and I am only just now learning about how my brain works, leaving me often at a loss as to why I respond the way that I do to what is reasonably considered 'minor' trauma.
But trauma is trauma, what is the most relevant factor is the condition of the brain that the trauma is interacting with. For me, learning hot to talk about my mental health has been a hugely eye opening experience. Not only has it helped me release certain stories about the past, it has also helped me to tell new ones. We all wear masks in order to protect our delicate psyches from harm.
When there is a wild surge of energy that moves through my body, I feel a kindredness to her. I want to let her pass and go on her way, but this is a hard task- one of surrender I am not yet accustomed to. It is only when I have fear of what she might do that I try to control her. When I do, I spiral. I bang my head against the floor so as to make visible the battle that is going on inside my head. When I finally surrender, I crash into a heap of snot and clenched fists. I have, in essence ripped off my masks and revealed the raw fibre of my hurt soul. It is an act of tremendous vulnerability to get to this place. Many never find the courage to externalize what it is like to live in their brain. Attempting to rationality communicate this is also hard. Words often completely fail to capture the complexity of mental illness.
When I discovered the term hyper-arousal and it's clear scientific explanation, I knew that I had a new language for explaining my "wild behaviours". I could coup with the fall out better because I could pinpoint the path that the avalanche traveled. I was beyond attempting to control the wild energy that was re-triggered, just as I would never dare to stop an avalanche or a tsunami, but I could understand it's impact and damagers and most importantly, I could reveal to myself, and others, a no longer cryptic logic of my actions.
Sometimes I am utterly amazed at the lengths my behaviour will shift the second an environmental trigger is introduced. It is hard to grasp, especially when my behaviour causes emotional harm on those I love. But even at the lowest of these 'episodes' I am some how able to walk a way feeling a sense of release.
I am aware of the habitual nature of hyper-agitation and the cascading symptoms of PTSD, but it is important to not hold the trauma in. It will only cause more damage. There is no doubt that healing occurs in the drain whether we are aware of it or not. Just as trauma does damage. So when we can learn to sense a wildish energy moving through us, as either anxiety, anger, or confusion, we can learn to create passage ways for her.
When she moves through us, she takes the trauma with her. She cleanses us and unblocks our creative streams. I am 100% more creative in the years before the onset of PTSD than before hand. I think that is largely due to the amount of blockages that have been released as a direct result of processing so many wild emotions.