Friday, January 22, 2016

the animal

There are days when this whole thing feels primal. I write in metaphors, but only metaphors about a wolf with a thorn in its paw, how my first reaction is always that with a degree of ferocity, that my hands shake and my head spins and it takes me back to this place inside of myself that I can't control with reason, or logic. It is the deepest part of me, the most animalistic and raw, the most untamed and wild.
There is an ache at this site as old as the world
For a sense of overall well being, it has been said that people need to feel safe in their bodies. I heard this line in an interview I was listening to with Bessel Van der Kolk, who researches trauma and the effects of traumatic stress on individuals, and it took my breath away. I was on my way home from the hospital, after an encounter lasting months on end that had left me feeling unsafe and assaulted within my own body. I have been searching for all of those long months for language to describe this.
Trauma is stored in the body, and at times, if I sit very still, I can feel the roots of what is happening to and in my body in trauma. It is a traumatic relationship with my own body, and I lack the words to explain what this means for me, and the ripple effect it is creating in my life.
How is it possible to feel traumatized by one's own body? And yet because of this experience, I have begun to recognize myself as separate from my body. I feel separate from this skin, as if it is only a vessel that houses my being. There are days, more often than I would like to admit, that I feel trapped by it. The fact that there is so much immediately surrounding the core of my being that is out of my control is terrifying. At its best, it is primal and animalistic and messy and loud, full of shrieking and roars and midnight howls. I have become an animal.
There are also times when I feel a distinct partnership with my body, but still then my efforts to relate to it are as if I was relating to another being outside myself.
I think that's the hardest part about illness, or particularly my illness in my body. It separates me from myself. I am both myself and not myself. I am trapped within myself, unable to recognize this body as part of me and unable to control it. It moves and acts of its own accord.
This primal noise escapes whenever I open my mouth, the scream that trauma built.
I have been known to participate in things that bring me back to my body, to a sense of feeling. Yoga, meditation, kissing, touching another person however innocently, even holding my own hands, music and sounds and words, a desperate search for anything that makes me feel remotely human again.
That's another thing illness stole from me: the ability to be human. I have become this creature, this other. My blood sugar rises and falls like the tides, seemingly defiant to every attempt at getting it under control. I sleep (or I don't) and I eat (my body relentlessly greedy in the pursuit of nourishment) and all of these things happen separate of emotion, perhaps leaving no room for emotion, and when the earth gets still I can feel the animalistic core.
Sometimes I write just to hear the sound of my own voice.
I look in mirrors to make sure I still exist.
I feel like an animal, acting out things that are so primal and basic, eating and sleeping and forcing nutrients into this body that I am helpless to control, that acts as it wills without warning.

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