I have been in constant pain in my left hip for a while now. Mostly it’s down around 2, but when it really hurts, it’s a 10 on a scale of 1-10. Fortunately, it doesn’t last long. But it’s very confusing. For example, it hurts when I put my full weight on my left foot, then hurts again when I bend my hip to lift my foot. There’s no consistency. Sometimes I feel better when I’ve been sitting with the heating pad, sometimes not. Nothing I do seems to make any lasting difference.
So I’m helpless and frustrated. Talking to my therapist yesterday, she defined the situation as “Your nervous system is completely overpowered from outside,” and went on to say that that was my earliest experience with my mother. It’s also the definition of trauma. My own image for it, when I was in the state of frozen terror and didn’t know it was about trauma, was that I was lying in the road, at night, nobody around except that a steam roller is rolling down the road toward me. I am unable to move and the driver can’t see me. Obviously I am going to be squashed flat. Not until I understood that I had been traumatized as an infant, did I understand the feeling that gave rise to this image.
So I’m back at AA’s Step 1 again again: My life is unmanageable, I am powerless over the pain. I’m facing Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. My earliest experience of a “power greater than myself” was my alcoholic mother, and my experience of her was essentially to be annihilated. She didn’t actually try to kill me, but she didn’t see me as a separate being. She couldn’t tell when I was hungry or tired or needing comfort, so she was unable to respond to my needs. This makes it very hard to believe in a higher power that would help me. At Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health they gave me an affirmation: “I offer myself to this process.” It took me awhile to begin to say it. I knew that “Thy will be done” was one of the most effective prayers (there’s actual evidence for that) but the closest I could get to it was “I offer myself to this process.” Eventually I even got to where I could say “Thy will be done,” and mean it, but that’s a capacity I keep losing and regaining. This recent loss of any sense that a greater power could help me is revisiting Step 2 on a deeper level.
Eventually, with the help of my therapist and my friend Elizabeth, I have been able to see that I am in a process of transformation, made possible by being here at Kendal where I’m in a container and my basic needs are taken care of. Erica says that my whole system is re-configuring. This sounds a lot like my old image of when I went to pieces, it was to have the opportunity to put them together better.
So here I am, once again, on the journey to “come to believe” in that Greater Power. I want to, but it’s not something that can be done on willpower. In fact, it’s not something you can decide to do, it’s something you have to want to do, intend, and be open to and then it comes by grace. At least that’s what it looks like to me now.