As usual, I’ll be in the women’s prison all day, actually attempting to be part of a process of emotional healing. Play nice while I’m away… LOL
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-=[ Emotional Scars ]=-
“Perhaps everything terrible in us is, in its deepest being, something helpless needing our help.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke
One summer I dated and had a torrid affair with one of the most beautiful women. In respect for confidentiality, I’ll call her Missy (she’s not from 360!). Missy had the most beautiful ass in the world.
Well, she did!
In all seriousness, Missy had a body to die for and was one of the kindest free spirits I’ve ever met. We met at an event I organized and everyone was laughing because everyone knows how much I love a well-rounded, shapely ass. Missy knew this too and she would laugh. We hit it off from the get go and got quite a few people pissed at us for throwing caution to the wind and just jumping into the fray with one another.
Missy was smart, beautiful, kind, and considerate. She was one of those women that loved to spoil her men and she would do these little things all the time that just made me smile. Like the time we went to iHop and she was cutting my pancakes into little pieces. I’m sitting there going “blah blah blah” about some topic, and I look down and she’s cutting my pancakes into bite-sized pieces! I died.
In bed, she was a stone-cold freak, but her first admonition to me was to leave her butt alone because she was never able to have anal sex without extreme pain and former lover forced himself. I said, “Sure sweetie.” LOL! She was the type of woman that gave all of herself, no holds barred. I absolutely adored her. I’ll always remember her and that summer.
Still, I couldn’t help but notice that underneath all that beauty and loving-kindness there was something deep that I couldn’t put my finger on. Most of you know me by now and you know I had to find the underlying cause of this somehow. It was strange because, as much as I was attracted to her and wanted her, I was always getting mixed signals. For example, it was only through her cousin that I discovered her feelings for me were more than casual. I couldn’t believe it, because she went through great pains to make it clear to me that our relationship would reach only so far.
Eventually, I was able to build some trust with her, she felt safe with me, she would say often enough. She even had anal sex with me (which was one of the ways we built trust with each other). Curious and wanting to get to know her better, I asked. One day while lying together I put my hand on her heart and asked her, “What’s in here, sweetie? What lies beneath the surface?” And she told me…
She had been in a seven-year marriage with a wonderful man and they had a young daughter. Everything was going so well, it was as if she were living her dream. Then one day her husband walked out the door and never came back.
Just like that.
No note, no explanation, nothing.
I winced as I listened to her talk about the waiting. At first, she assumed he decided to go hang out with some friends, but as the minutes turned to hours, she became alarmed. She called all their acquaintances and no one seemed to know his whereabouts. The hours turned to days and during all that time, she was going through the most horrible pain.
Did something happen to him? Was he dead?
She called family members, friends, and hospitals – all the time suffering the anguish of not knowing. Eventually, after weeks, he would send her a note telling her that he had met a former lover and that he didn’t want anything more to do with the marriage. The terse note stated that he would build a life with this new woman. I still can remember Missy’s face while she recounted all this – it was as if she were literally reliving the trauma at the moment. She even broke down in inconsolable, heaving sobs. How could she be so wrong? Why didn’t she see it coming?
From that point on, Missy would never be the same. Always a happy woman, she would fall into a deep depression and suffered anxiety attacks. She could no longer trust men and would sabotage her relationships, or make certain her relationships were purely sexual. She would leave men, good men, before they left her, it seemed to me. Sometimes for no apparent reason, she would see the scene of her husband walking out the door, as if it were all happening again.
Some of you may be thinking that Missy should’ve just gotten over it, but as we all know from our own experiences (if we stop the judging and become honest with ourselves), traumatic events leave marks in our brains. This is clearly shown in people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For such people even listening to a tape recounting the incident activates the emotional brain. This is the part of the brain that controls the fear response and is impervious to language. In fact, trauma deactivates the cognitive areas of our brains, the parts of the brain responsible for language. This is why some people say, “There are no words to describe what I went through.”
These scars are difficult to erase and leave a lasting neurological imprint that affects how we relate to others. Thinking about it, or gaining insight as to the nature of our trauma isn’t enough to erase it.
I think we can understand from our own experiences because, in fact, most of us have experienced what might be called “small t” traumas, as opposed to the “big T” trauma of life threatening experiences. How many of us have experienced heartbreak and loss or, as in the case of Missy, loss and humiliation. Some of us have been rejected harshly by a lover, or made serious mistakes in our professional lives.
Undoubtedly, we have thought a lot about this and received advice from family and friends, read Cosmo or self-help books about this particular situation and how to respond to it. The fact remains, that while we may have gained insight from all these sources on how to think about the situation, and deep down inside we know how we should be feeling about it, we are left anchored in the past even after our rational understanding has changed.
The woman who was emotionally scarred by a man continues to sabotage her relationships, a man who was in car accident continues to feel uncomfortable and tense when he drives on the highway even though he knows that the accident wasn’t his fault and that he drove for years on the same road without any problems. The woman who was sexually assaulted continues to freeze when she attempts to be come sexually intimate with the man she loves. It’s as is the emotional and rational aspects of the brain suffer a disconnect that cannot be fused.
The scarring is so deep and the neurological imprint so strong, that many mental health practitioners are at a loss as to how to treat such trauma. Fortunately, there are now treatment modalities that do not include medication that have been proven effective. Furthermore, many of these treatments have been around since ancient times. Others are new and innovative, but equally effective. I hope to share some of this in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.