Posted by: alphafemme | September 23, 2009

crash and burn

The hard part of all this healing work is actually implementing it.

Saturday was a full day of the most amazing epiphanies. In our training, we were learning about so many wonderful things. I learned a lot about truly listening (it’s not about offering advice or input, but rather it’s about subtly steering the talker towards finding her own ideas and solutions). I learned about honoring our emotional responses (tears, panic, anger, etc), because they have a purpose: they help us survive, they help us maintain bodily equilibrium (have you ever seen a mouse that has just narrowly escaped from a cat? after the initial instinctive power-drive that enables it to escape, and once it’s back in relative safety, the mouse shakes and quivers for several solid minutes — its body doing its work to bring the energy back down to normal — biology, y’all). So we shouldn’t be ashamed of the ways our body and our mind deal with trauma. Instead, we should realize that it’s our body taking care of itself. I also learned about breathing techniques to help restore calmness (and help me fall asleep!). Stress relievers. Centering practices.

I left at the end of the day floating on a cloud. Not only did I feel equipped to be a counselor for others who have experienced sexual assault, but I also felt  equipped now to be aware of and forgiving towards myself. I left feeling empowered, on a yellow brick road to soundness of self.

And then I crashed. I had plans with mi’lady directly after the training, but she was running behind and so she didn’t come over until an hour later than we’d originally planned. In my empowered, floating on a cloud state of mind, I was all, “I’m so going to have an awesome conversation with her about why it’s hard for me when she doesn’t stick to our plans; I’ll be reasonable, and direct, and honest, and look her in the eyes, and not be irritated, and will make I-statements, and and and” and and and…

It didn’t quite turn out that way. It’s hard to come out of something so theoretically brilliant and then realize that real life is messy, and there’s no magic fix. It wasn’t that our conversation was bad, per se. It was fine. But instead of *poof* making the issue disappear, in a way it just magnified it. It made us realize that we have a pretty colossal difference of style, in terms of how we treat time. (“At least,” said my best friend, when I spoke with her about it by phone, “at least it’s a style difference, and not a value difference,” and she’s right, because style differences are so much easier to compromise on.) And when the conversation was winding down, I just… crashed. I couldn’t stop crying. I was exhausted and drained and hurt and frustrated and bewildered. Why didn’t it work? It was supposed to work! I thought I was fixed! Where’s my solution?

I guess it will take a while to figure out how all this lovely pretty soundbyte healing theory will integrate into the complexities of living and the complexities of my dynamic relationships. Maybe I’ll end up leaving some of it. Maybe I’ll take all of it. I don’t know.  But if I’ve learned anything, I know that I need to accept that the crashing was a natural human response to a state of elation, and so I will let go of my feelings of frustration and failure that I didn’t just fix anything. And that, at least, is a good start.

*Coming soon: I’ve been tagged by the illustrious Em the Femme in the Honest Scrap… so be prepared to learn some scintillating secrets about yours truly!*



  1. I so hear you with this one. I’ve gone through this process of insight-revelation-sharing-ohshit-crash in various situations with various girlfriends … never easy. And those style differences can be dealbreakers! (note I said CAN BE, they don’t have to be.) But it sounds like she and you are both willing to sit down and be honest & open and talk about it, and that is a huuuuge part of the work – I’m still shocked how many people can’t even do that without name-calling, blaming, knock-down blow-out fights. These kinds of things take sooo much time to impliment and integrate for reals though, there are still issues I’ve known of and are conscious of and talk about and have for years that still pop up in my relationships … just takes time, & patience. I love that you’re writing through things like this here, thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. “The hard part of all this healing work is actually implementing it” – yes, the implementing is hard but I really do think that the hard part comes with the understanding of it all. The way you explained the body’s reaction to trauma and the aftermath really resonated with me. It took me a long, long time before I even knew why I was in a ball, crying on the floor. Once I understood it, I began to recognize the triggers and then learned how to make my delicate way around them. I don’t think this journey will ever end but it has gotten easier. One thing I know for sure is that nothing was as important as the understanding – you deserve a great big deal of respect for achieving that. You have mine for sure.

    Yes, thank you for sharing this.

  3. I love those epiphanies. And even if it didn’t turn out the way you planned, you had the strength to bring it up. Taking what you’ve learned in a workshop, in therapy, training, etc. and finding how it fits into YOUR life, is one of the hardest parts. You think, yay look at me, I’m with it, I’ve got it down, and come get me life. Don’t let this discourage. And know your body. Like greg said in the previous comment, know your triggers and know how to carry yourself and your actions accordingly.

    Way to be brave though. Not everyone can actually talk about these things like adults. Which you did. Good work!

  4. Also, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you mentioned the tag! Thanks!

  5. sinclair: thanks for that reminder that there are so many horrible ways of dealing with differences; note to self: *I’m doing just fine.* there are bound to be disagreements and tough conversations, and the important thing is making it through them maintaining love and respect for each other. which we both really try to do.

    greg: yes, you’re totally right — the first step, the understanding, the breaking out of the fog, that’s the hardest. it’s hard to even know what the exact recipe is for getting there. and it’s taken *so much work* for me to get to this point of understanding at all. thanks for that reminder that I’m not at the very beginning of the process; in fact I’ve already done a lot of the hard work. which isn’t to say the rest will be easy… but it’s a lot harder to give up when I think of it as “but look how far I’ve come already!”. and yes, I so hear you on the learning how to delicately avoid the triggers thing… still working on that one too. it’s a process, for sure.

    Em: yes, it’s hard to take something theoretical, and figure out how to apply it! especially since I tend to be more comfortable in theory and the abstract anyway… I did get my undergraduate degree in philosophy after all! so this whole process right now is such an opportunity for learning. I suspect I’ll be posting a lot about my mistakes and bumps along the way, and my methods for figuring out how to keep moving on. it’s so helpful to put it all down in a place like this. and yes, knowing my body (and everything that encompasses) is a huge part of my work right now. huge.

    thanks for your comments :) I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate hearing from folks…

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