One of the more difficult things with healing from sexual trauma is that when as an adult, and my body hurts, it often takes me back to the times in my childhood where my body hurt and where I not only felt powerless, I was powerless. The reality of having not only felt so fucking powerless as a child, but actually being powerless – constantly screws with me. One of the defence mechanisms I installed as a child was to dissociate. I was very good at it. Dissociation and much later on, a narley drug addiction is what kept me alive.
For those of you in the know about coping mechanisms, you’ll know just how non-useful they eventually become.
My body has begun to vividly remember chapters of my childhood that had been locked up longer than 4 decades. My body is hurting & feels like it is constantly on the brink of wanting to collapse into a heap on the floor. I hurt, and no-one can take it away or even make it feel better. And that brings about another level of powerlessness that I could do without.
Surrendering to the type of body pain that triggers memories of sexual violence, isn’t easy for me to do. Can you tell I’ve been here before. I vomit a lot. I pee myself in the process of vomiting. I randomly loose control of my bowels. I have bursts of spontaneous sobbing / howling / crying / silent screaming, concentration can go out the proverbial window and I will often hear myself making sound when in the throes of anguish that no living organism ought even know about. So deep are the wounds. I lose even more sleep than is my usual & I go back to howling through the night in an effort to rid myself of all this hideous pain in my body that doesn’t even belong to me. And the anxiety – omg.
My head will fall skyward – in an attempt I am certain of, to plead with who I call God or the Father, to not let me have to feel this all over again. And then my head falls earth-ward to the Mother, because I know this is necessary pain to resolve. And so my head goes. Skyward then down and up again and down. And in each movement up or down, comes another layer of recognition for all that little girl went through. The terror she somehow pulled herself through time and time again. For a period that was almost my entire life span.
And then we rest. Both her and I.
Allowing myself to heal like this is a ruthless process.
If you’re wondering why I’m writing about part of my sexual trauma healing process in what I affectionately call my fat journal, here’s why: I joined a gym. And as gym workouts do, they target areas of my body that have stored a myriad of tales about where I’ve come from this lifetime. And when that happens, my body starts to remember and wallah – I step into another level of healing my past.
Fridays I have a Boxing session with a trainer who is male bodied and Maaori. He’s solid as – even in his vocal pitch. He is confident enough without risk of being cocky. AND he is listening to me – which is difficult for me to manage because it rips off the scab of other wounds where my words have fallen upon deaf ears and I have either endured more physical or psychological damage, or been left to fend for myself.
Putting aside everything that triggers, I am enjoying myself at the gym. I feel privileged that I can move my body in ways that others can not. I feel humbled that I have the finances to be able to attend a gym. I feel free to explore who I am in the physical. I am physically strong – to be carrying the amount of weight I have been, to be as active as I am, one is strong. I have been acknowledged with a gym programme that is tough. My trainers know what I need based on who I am as a person, not based on who I am in terms of my gender, weight, and other issues. My trainers can.see.me & they have a firm understanding of the psychological impact that working the body in various ways, has on people who come from a similar space to me and they do not allow for excuses within their “specialised” knowledge or their client. That cliche “failure is not an option” – is them, to a T.
I feel troubled too, that so many Polynesian people in particular, and for many reasons, will most likely not have the opportunities that I can afford for myself. Maaori lead the way – we’re at the top of everything ie early death from diabetes, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, chemical addiction, wahine Maaori (Maaori women) have the highest death rate in.the.world for lung cancer via cigarette smoking … we lead the way in prison population, mental health population, suicide, being below the poverty line, violence & child abuse … So when I see someone Maaori at the gym, regardless of their gender, I make it my mission to go and mihi (greet) them. And if they’re fat as, I make it even more of a mission to go give them encouraging shit so as to embrace and to acknowledge the mean as courage it’s taking to be doing what we’re doing.
Breaking down the stereotypes – that’s what’s important to me. Getting out there and being seen, and heard and letting people know that if I can do what I am doing, so can they – so can you. It is about building bridges and at the same time, knowing and learning how to not cross over into the world of another – or to not live vicariously through others, by knowing, remembering and claiming (y)our identity through (y)our own story – AND – being at peace with that.