They say time heals all. But how does one cope with the pain in the present? How does one move forward after a traumatic or adverse experience? We are a numbing society. We numb with work. We numb with alcohol and drugs. We numb with food. We numb with shopping. It is adaptive to avoid anything that brings us hurt or pain. Uncomfortable emotions are better left ignored, paying attention to them only brings pain, only makes the present real.
Every cell hurt. I had been up all night and felt as if I had the flu or had attempted to go toe-to-toe in a drinking contest with college rugby men, yet neither was the case. Lack of sleep and emotional pain can leave you feeling as though you survived a full body beating. As a graduate student in psychology, I was fully aware of the damage the previous night had done on a cellular level, the negative effects of cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine coursing through my veins and bathing every cell. I tried not to think about it. My body, mind, and soul felt bruised and battered, beaten down and wanting to stay down. I wanted to give up, I wanted to give in.
It started with an email, and they kept coming in all night, with increasing threats, antagonism, and anger. My soul ached. It was all too much to process.
I had been back in NM one month. I hadn’t so much as dipped a toe in a pool in 3 years and hadn’t swam in any training capacity in 7 years. Pulling my college training suit on, I felt as if I was pulling on a suit of armor. Despite my pain and the flashbacks of the night before, the sick-tired feeling and the throbbing headache, pulling that suit on gave me the quickest glimpse of “me.” It was gone before I could put my finger on it, before I could even really feel it, but it was there. A flash of who I was, at my core, at my roots, long before I was broken. Long before the lies, the betrayal, the life that I had walked into with open arms, unwittingly, unknowingly. A flash of who I could be again. Only better, reborn into something stronger, and a hell of a lot smarter.
“Just keep moving, that’s all you have to do”, I told myself. This would become my mantra. This would become me.