• Mary Kalbach

This is What Post-Traumatic Growth Feels Like


This morning I turned on Spotify to an 80s mix

Then I laid down on my back on my bed

That my husband and I share

And listened to the music

As the fan spun over my head.


I turned on the soundtrack to the most tumultuous

Angry

Frustrating

Terrifying

Years of my life


I turned on the soundtrack that once

Activated a flood of memories

A flood of feels

A flood that washed over me and left me

Disconnected

Dissociated

Afraid

Alone

Replaying all the worst parts of those years

Over and over again until

I was sobbing

Then frozen

Then dazed for weeks afterwards


This morning I turned on Spotify to an 80s mix

Then I laid down on my back on my bed

That my husband and I share

A bed that I had a complicated relationship with

A bed in which my body felt weak and sick and filled with tubes and wires

A bed that held the violence I witnessed someone I love experience

A bed that convinced me truth and dare is a good game to play

I laid down on that bed and listened to the soundtrack of those memories

While the ceiling fan my sweet husband installed for me turned overhead.


I turned on the soundtrack to the most tumultuous

Time of my life


And I danced inside.


I smiled at the memories of innocence of first love and sloppy unpracticed kisses

And teachers who respected me

And challenged me

And kindnesses I shared with others


I remembered dances I danced with good friends

In the school cafeteria

My body a crazy ball of energy

Moving to the 80s mix tunes

And laughing

And dancing until my feet were sore

And my breath was short

And I only felt slightly embarrassed at

How silly I must have looked


I listened to the soundtrack of the most tumultuous years of my life

And

I

Felt

Joy!

Overwhelming gratitude

Fullness in my heart

I felt at Peace


I haven’t forgotten those things that happened

I don’t have any great love for those who hurt me


But I no longer live there

I no longer linger in the chaos and anger,

Dipping in my hands and scooping it up like

Water from a well in the middle of a relentless desert of pain


There are other memories to be remembered

There are loves I felt

Friendships that flamed up and died out

Through no fault of their own

Kindnesses I experienced

And kindnesses I gave

Successes, good books, family trips, ocean waves, birdsong in the spring,

swinging on a parade of playground swings


There was more

Much more

To those years than I saw at the time

And now

My body

Remembers

That two things can be true at once

That many things can be true at once

That darkness and light and mediocrity - good enough-ness - can all live

In the same space

Of time

And the body can be re-taught

Which of those to dwell within


Call the work what you will

Trauma work

Shadow work

Dark goddess energy work

Mindfulness

Embodiment

Cognitive shifting

Hard

Scary

Relentless

courageous


I call it

Accomplished!


This is what post traumatic growth feels like!


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