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07 December 2017 @ 02:45 pm
trapped in a cage and surrendered too soon  
“i’m worried about you,” the words come back, though there’s little i can do about them. after all, she’s probably right. i seem to have quite a number of problems.

but that’s the thing of it, with a traumatized brain: there are quite a number of problems. it’s what we’ve been conditioned to notice, to fixate on, to gravitate toward: if not what is wrong with a situation, what could be wrong, what could go wrong, what could pull off the track and slap back violently against a vulnerable part of the mechanism, throwing the whole machine into chaos.

i mean, i don’t want to be like this. understand that. i really don’t. i want to embrace the process, give people some credit, demonstrate myself as a nimble dancer of circumstances, only expecting and receiving the very best. i hear that's how you get what you want: by deciding you will get it and never once doubting that decision. that's not how i am. i can't decide. i doubt. i confuse and cause concern. i am, you see, a broken dancer, a dancer dancing out her breaks, a breakdancer. i have a traumatized brain.

i don’t want to be like this, but the truth of it is: i’ve been assaulted and i’ve been assaulted repeatedly. if i see a place where i could be assaulted again, i cannot relax until i feel i have made restorations against that. warded myself a circle. sprinkled the front entryway with eclipse water. crossed my arms over my chest. chanted my protections in rhymed verse. then again:

i have been abandoned, abandoned to myself and abandoned to my failures, abandoned to the shortfalls of the public education system; abandoned to thirteen-year-old boys at the back of the school bus on a substitute driver day; abandoned to a man who’d had both too much to drink and a point to make about all the ways you can abandon someone even still in the room with them. he didn’t need to prove anything, i’d already been a prisoner of that proof for decades. that’s because: the traumatized brain does not work like the non-traumatized brain. we do not understand the same things. we do not understand things the same way.

one example: i've heard that a non-traumatized brain can look at a gathering of people roughly the same age and gender identity as that brain’s landlord and not necessarily find themselves overcome with the urge to bolt, thirty years later or not.

another example: i've heard that a non-traumatized brain can walk past a total stranger in a public stairwell and not automatically clench the handrail in anticipation of the coming shove. so what if it never comes? that doesn’t prove anything. surely not that i am safe to complete my journey down the stairs unmolested. maybe my passer-by was simply indulging in the non-traumatized brain’s rumored luxury of thinking about something other than trauma, their trauma, another’s trauma, the potential traumas, the next trauma, that one we damn well know we won’t see coming but maybe? if we do?

the thing is: like everyone in middle school, trauma recognizes my face, but i frequently cannot recognize trauma until it is upon me. it’s that same home field advantage every instrument of trauma i’ve encountered has used against me since before remembering: they know who i am, but i won’t even be able to recognize them after the fact.

that’s because: trauma has changed my brain. every time. every trauma. like snowflakes, no individual instance looks anything like any other individual instance, no matter if the end result buries me to my chin.

trauma has made me into someone i would not necessarily choose to be. trauma has, to some degree, devoured my agency. but, perhaps more important for the non-traumatized brain to understand: trauma has made me into someone you cannot and some times will not entirely understand.

that’s what the enemy is going for, after all. isolate the traumatized. cut us off from necessary resources because, as hard as we've tried, we can't fit in. we're dented in all the wrong places. we can't tell it straight, so we are not allowed to speak. we are not allowed to speak our trauma. we are not allowed to speak our trauma the way we need to speak it. we are told we are too confusing to be bothered with. we make others angry because we are so confusing. because we are so inappropriate. we are told: nobody wants to listen to that. that's too much information. that's more than anybody wanted to know. should someone choose to listen anyway, we are interrupted frequently so that the listener can inform us of something we've never heard before: nobody really meant it. you know, everybody has a hard time growing up. you know, it was all in the past. all in the past. a million years ago. two million years ago. three. they forgot about it, why haven't we?

we are told if we "insist" on still talking about it, that means the trauma won.

we are told something else that we hear very infrequently: the trauma is winning. the trauma won. we are told all about how the trauma won. we are told this, sometimes, in every conversation with certain friends who've never once had nair thrown at their eyes. no matter what we do, no matter what we've done. no matter what we've survived, no matter how hard we've worked to do better, no matter how much of ourselves we've fought back from the abyss: we are told, over and over again, in a variety of new and exciting ways, that if we show evidence of trauma, any evidence of trauma, any evidence at all, that means the trauma won.

i would like to tell you something now that, perhaps, you have never heard before: yes, the trauma "won." of course the trauma "won." if the trauma hadn't won, you wouldn't be reading this. anonymousblack would not exist. i'd be otherwise occupied enjoying a masked hot tub orgy in my mammoth country estate funded by the three million dollar sexy vampire franchise i was able to realize because all my body's resources weren't instead tied up in feeding my hungry colonizer. the trauma won. in many ways, the trauma is still winning. i mean, i don’t want to be like this. understand that. i really don’t. but, you see, for me? for the person trying to get on with her life in trauma's shadow? this doesn't have anything to do with "winning." all apologies to the american go for it spirit. i don't need to win here. which is a good thing, because trauma isn't going to let me.

if i want to survive the trauma, if i hope to someday consistently experience life outside of a somatic flashback loop, i have to acknowledge that the trauma nearly kicked my ass dead several times. this isn't a fun discovery for the traumatized brain, like realizing you are truly beautiful in the girl's room at the senior prom or that you are levelheaded and efficient in the wake of a natural disaster. this is more the kind of discovery where you evaluate your trauma response team and find that in the wake of your being assaulted, instead of taking care of yourself, getting treated for shock and spending a couple days under light medical supervision, you drove home, drank until you were unconscious, and went to work the next day. that's how badly you treated somebody close to you in one of their worst moments. that's the kind of abandonment you, yourself, are capable of: forcing yourself to pretend it's just any other day, no matter the predatory loans you just took out on your body's devastated resources.

like an invasive species, trauma thrives under conditions that keep the native populations in check. unexamined, trauma can become everything in situations where it might have been controlled. the goal of rerouting a traumatized brain is to not let such a thing happen. to still exist outside of that terrible history of who done me wrong. rerouting, not conquering. in order to do that, we need people to make us allowances. ask us some important questions and actually listen to the answers. believe us.

frequently, the tipping point in rerouting is somebody believing us. more than one person believing us. a number of people believing us. a growing number of people. more people even than the ones who believe out of hand that we're all full of shit: and anyway, his work has been so influential isn't it just a shame what these allegations are doing to his career?

“i’m worried about you,” the words come back, and of course she is, of course she should be. one traumatized brain looking out for another, one non-traumatized brain demonstrating gratitude for its lack of trauma by helping us establish safe space. somewhere i can untense. somewhere i can exhale. somewhere i can be confusing. somewhere i can start to heal.

because that’s enough, most of the time. at times there's more to it than that, but for the most part that’s the alpha and omega of what a traumatized brain needs most: permission to breathe, space to be, and an unspoken understanding that we are more to our loved ones than a traumatized brain.

music: orbiteer - descent