“Unreal” Suffering

I’ve been struggling with almost continuous terror for the last three days. Knowing it was trauma-based, being pretty sure it was because of social distancing, I tried to spend more time with people, but even eating dinner together didn’t help. My journal writing this morning was pretty desperate, but when I walked Mocha, I found some things that made a difference.  The fear has not gone, but it’s lessened enough that I can manage. I still find practical things almost impossible, except for absolutely necessary things like cooking and getting food and walking the dog.  This is what I wrote later:

3rd cup. dandelion root tea.  I’ve discovered some prayers that help.  “Whatever of this is not mine, may it be drawn into the ball of white light and sent to the healing realms.”  “I choose to trust that there are beings in the universe who are bigger, stronger, and wiser than me, and who help us all go in a positive direction.”  “I offer myself to this process.”

I said these while I walked Mocha.  Also reminded myself that I do love Mocha, even when I don’t have loving feelings or feel connected.

I thought about the mystery that some suffering is “real”: Joe lost his wife, Rob fell and hurt his back.  Another friend had some mysterious illness with psychotic symptoms but is doing better — she came by our dining table last night with a walker, looking pale and weak.  There are people struggling with poverty and racism and marginalization, losing their jobs, being treated unfairly by the police, etc. etc. 

Then there’s suffering that’s “unreal” like mine.  Yes I know it was caused by an event in the past, but there’s no direct evidence.  My suffering is almost entirely invisible feelings, that other people don’t see, that they mostly don’t understand because the feelings don’t connect with something obvious and present.  Maybe even because, as I think it’s Lenore Terr who says, the fear and rage of a trauma survivor don’t feel like normal fear and anger.  I think the terror I experience is frozen terror, the default of freeze.  I suppose the freeze without fear is apathy, but the freeze with fear reminds me of dreams when I tried to run away from a bomb and my knees were like rubber.

One of the difficulties in believing that it’s not my fault, besides my father telling me “You’re miserable because you want to be,” is that I didn’t know about the trauma until I was nearly 60. Not understanding about the cause for my difficulties left me believing that I was defective.

What is the purpose of “unreal” suffering?  Because it’s not directly caused by someone else, there’s no one to blame.  I always took responsibility for healing my misery, although I also blamed myself, judged myself harshly.  That’s why the prayers are such a help.  They represent handing it over to something I trust, a healing process if not a loving being.  I guess one thing that that makes “unreal” suffering so difficult and painful is most people judge the suffering person, and refuse to feel sympathy.

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