From Darkness into Light

“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

When I was forty-nine, I burned-out. My psychiatrist told me they used to call that a nervous breakdown. I guess “burnout” became a less offensive term.

The meds I’d been on all my life stopped working. My physical health deteriorated. I could barely get two hours of sleep a night over the course of a year. When I did sleep, I threw up when I woke. Conversations were increasingly embarrassing because I couldn’t bring my thoughts to conclusion. I’d stop halfway through sentences, forgetting what I began to say. I had great difficult focusing at work. I began experiencing periods of lost time. At night, I hallucinated and/or saw terrifying apparitions or entities in my apartment. This kicked up my PTSD symptoms exponentially. I became so paralyzed with fear, I stopped going to work and sat frozen on my couch in front of the TV day after day, chain smoking, my eyes darting between the TV screen and the door, only budging if I absolutely had to. I ordered in when I ran out of food. I was no longer “safe”. Not at work, not on the street, not in my apartment. Not anywhere.

Reality long-denied came hurtling into consciousness after decades of dissociation and numbness. So much of what I always believed to be true proved to be false.

Darkness flooded in.

When I woke in the morning, I felt an immediate visceral drop as if I were in an elevator falling twenty floors. It felt like a black hood was over my brain. My despair was so great, I was terrified I’d lose my mind. I was hospitalized involuntarily decades before. I never, ever wanted to be in that situation again.

When I started pulling out of the burnout and could focus again, I looked to books for help as I had so often in the past. I searched for memoirs of people who’d suffered trauma and come out whole. How did they survive? What got them through? Did despair follow them the rest of their lives? If they believed in God before their trauma, did that change after?

The first book I picked up was Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. He said having a powerful reason to live helped concentration camp prisoners survive psychologically, and that the one thing the Nazis could never take from them was their mental life, their attitude towards their circumstances.

From a PTSD point of view, I’d like to add that sometimes certain inmates—referred to as musselmann—seemed to collapse instead of freeze (out of the trauma responses of fight, flight, freeze or collapse.) It wasn’t that they were simply resigned to their fate, they were somehow already gone, unresponsive, the living dead. Starvation, dehumanization and so many other factors, no doubt, contributed to their state of affliction. In these particular cases, I’m not sure these people had the ability to maintain their state of mind anymore. But this is pure conjecture on my part.

That book was so helpful to me that I went on to read thirty-eight memoirs of Holocaust survivors. My experiences as a child and difficulties in adulthood receded into the background as I became intensely aware of the suffering of others, past and present.

My favorite of all the Holocaust memoirs were those by Primo Levi. His Survival in Auschwitz (aka If This is a Man) and The Reawakening (aka The Truce) were written simply and beautifully with the precise dispassion of the scientist he was. After the war, when he returned home to Italy and fell in love, I was so happy. He found joy again! How I cried.

I knew if Primo Levi could find joy again, I could, too.

Of course, given the human condition, Primo Levi’s life did not necessarily continue on a course ever upward, but he published many more wonderful books and helped so many people.

Sometimes it gets so dark.

Especially at night.

I’m not doing a Vegas joke there, but that’s a good one.

Seriously, though, I really do tend to despair more at three or four in the morning as opposed to nine a.m. When it’s dark outside and inside, I turn to my Kindle and pull up a memoir.

Memoirs of trauma and healing help me. Well, actually the people who write these books help me.

There is no doubt terrible things happen in the world. But if we survive and find a way to evolve and heal, then we can help others do the same and by so doing—make light out of the darkness.

***

Speaking of darkness and light, this morning I woke up and heard a voice softly singing “This Little Light of Mine” in the kitchen — although no one was there but my planties.

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Then I noticed how straight and tall Basie stood. I moved in closer and realized it was she who was singing! She’d always been so shy. I wondered what on earth brought about such a change?

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When I moved in closer still, I understood. Can you see the basil seedling coming out of the dirt? I plopped seeds in there a couple weeks ago. It’s so cool how they know not to go downward, but up, up, up out of the darkness and into the light.

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Hello little basil seedling! Welcome to the world!

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Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

“Take Sominex tonight and sleep, safe and restful, sleep, sleep, sleep.”

I remember seeing that commercial for Sominex in the sixties. Oh, were there only something safe and non-addictive that worked to help me sleep, sleep, sleep!

Tranquilizers are the worst. You take them every day for two weeks and they stop being as effective as they were initially. Up the dose, two more weeks go by, up the dose again and so on. And they rewire your brain big-time–not in a good way. Getting off them when I was twenty was hell. But it can be done. You just have to accept the discomfort of withdrawal. (It can be dangerous, so only do this under a doctor’s supervision. I, unfortunately, did not. It could have been so much easier.)

Imipramine worked for about twenty years, and then it didn’t. Ditto Zyprexa (for seven years).

When I was 49, I averaged about an hour of sleep a night. Man, did I start hallucinating!!! Or seeing ghosts…or worse. (I wrote about this in Startle: A True Story of PTSD and the Paranormal.)

Anyhoo, eventually I stopped taking all meds prescribed for my PTSD because they weren’t working anymore.

Sleep has since been a challenge, although it’s getting better.

I usually put together six hours within a twelve hour period. If I’m going through a stressful period, I sleep for half an hour, then wake abruptly–hypervigilant. I’m up for an hour or two before I fall back. Sometimes I wake early morning and am up for a couple hours, then back to sleep for two. I’m lucky I can do this since I’m not working nine-to-five anymore. Sometimes I get six solid. It’s getting better, but s-l-o-w-l-y.

I’ve been tired since I was a teenager. I couldn’t sleep until dawn back then. I thought that meant I was a night owl. Now I know it had more to do with my childhood. I was programmed. My body associates nighttime with bad things. There are many nights I still don’t feel safe enough to sleep until the sun comes up.

So it’s tough trying to relax to go to sleep.

There is one surefire way for me to drop off and that is if I blank my mind, which is hard to do. But if I can do it, if I can keep all thoughts at bay for about ten or fifteen seconds, I will fall asleep.

I get so tired of being tired.

One good thing about being tired, though, is my mind slips into the alpha or theta brain states faster and then it’s easier to have shamanic-type experiences.

Last week, I read John Perkins’ book about shapeshifting. One of the shamans he spoke with advised him to listen to his heart. He said the heart is connected to the Universe and will help you if you ask questions and listen. So I asked my heart to show me what’s going on. Why am I so tired? What can I do to get my energy back? Then I put my hand over my heart and blanked my mind.

I got an involuntary screenshot of someone on a wild horse in a rodeo. The horse keeps trying to buck them, but they’re holding on. I figure the message meant I’ve been riding the wild waves of primitive instinct, up and down, up and down, holding on—and that comes at a cost.

The extreme states of PTSD are exhausting. The anger, fear and sadness—not to mention the flooding of cortisol and other stress hormones related to the fight-or-flight states.

Peter Levine says the process of releasing buried energy is slow. It happens in bits and pieces. The body will heal naturally, at its own rate, as long as we don’t block it with drugs and alcohol.

Lima Bean reminds me I’m so much better than I was three years ago. All the physical pain (except IBS-related) went away. The unbearable feelings of grief dissipated completely. And…

What’s that?

Who is Lima Bean?

Forgive me. Allow me to introduce Lima Bean. (See picture below.)

I adopted her five years ago. She was a wee young thing then. Pretty soon, she’ll be taller than me. She’s a cool hipster and night owl. She’s mostly dug jazz since I’ve known her, but she recently discovered B.B. King’s “Live at the Regal” album and can’t get enough of it. She keeps asking me to take her to the South Side (of Chicago) to hear some real blues. She says since I’m usually up anyway, what’s the prob? I tell her if I were still single, yes, but it’s more complicated now. I gave her a Christmas ornament to groove with in the meantime. The Christmas ornament hasn’t given me his name yet, but his favorite song is “Big Noise from Winnetka” (original instrumental version). When I play it, he vibrates round the roots of Lima Bean and she nods along to the rhythm in a cool modified way. At least when I can’t sleep, Lima Bean and Christmas Ornament are wide awake with me.

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What Gives You a Sense of Wellbeing?

I watched a documentary online last week called The Sacred Science. The filmmakers followed the journey of eight people with serious health conditions who traveled to the Amazon Rainforest to be treated by indigenous healers (after Western Medicine proved ineffective). One of these people was a woman who’d been sexually abused as a child. By the time she left the rainforest, she had such a tangible sense of wellbeing, you could feel it. She was practically luminous. That was my perception anyway.

For most of my life, I have not felt very relaxed or peaceful inside. Neither have I had much of a sense of wellbeing. This is understandable since I have PTSD and one of my main symptoms has been hypervigilance. My body/brain has rarely felt safe enough for me to feel at peace.

Drinking gave me a synthetic sense of wellbeing in my teen years. After I quit drinking, I got into tranquilizers. They certainly gave me a peaceful, easy feeling, but I bottomed out on them fast. In my late 30’s, early 40’s, painkillers were my “solution”. They made me feel just dandy for maybe two years. I quit a daily habit after five.

Anti-depressants and anti-psychotics never gave me a sense of wellbeing. Imipramine and Zyprexa made me sleepy at night, though, which was helpful when I had a career. I needed my sleep. They stopped working eventually, too.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking, If only we could win Little Lotto, we could go on a trip to C__ B__ in Wisconsin. Every time we’ve gone to this gorgeous resort, I’ve felt so wonderfully relaxed, at peace, filled with wellbeing. It’s a marvelous place in the middle of 300 acres of forest. There are lakes and streams and wildlife, a fabulously stocked library, the dinners are out of this world and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cabins are beautiful. But it’s terribly expensive and I don’t know when we’ll have that kind of dough again.

Going someplace like I described might make it more conducive for me to relax and feel good, but in the end–it’s an inside job really. Theoretically, I don’t have to go anywhere to change the way I feel.

But with my crazy hypervigilance, unpredictable fight-or-flight surges and sleep issues, feeling peaceful has been somewhat of an elusive state of being for me.

The last two nights, as I closed my eyes to fall asleep, I asked myself, What relaxes me? What gives me a sense of wellbeing?

I sometimes feel relaxed after vigorous exercise.

I used to find the still point within with mindful meditation, but when I got off the meds three years ago, my buried trauma energy came pouring out like nobody’s business. The result was when I got quiet and focused on mindfully meditating, I’d usually sob like a baby or fall asleep due to sleep deprivation. But as a rule, mindful meditation increases my sense of wellbeing.

Sometimes I relax when I color. Although I’ve seen adult coloring books in the drugstore, I prefer the old fashioned kids’ kind. I love the big box of Crayolas.

Although I am not naturally gifted at drawing, I get really focused and quiet when I draw and color something simple. When I drew and colored my plant “Basie” late one night, I noticed she had the cutest face on one of her leaves—two eyes and a big smile. When my husband woke the next morning, I told him he had to see this. But the face was gone! Maybe Basie was smiling posing for the picture. I’ve read a couple books on plant spirits. The shamans say plants and trees are here to help us if we’d only ask politely.

I wrote a couple novels under a different name. They’re sort of urban fairy tales. I definitely went into solid Alpha Brain Wave states writing them, if not full-blown Theta.

When I’d finish that day’s writing and take a walk afterwards, I’d put on my iPod and be lost for an hour or two imagining what would happen next in the fantasy world I created. That was super enjoyable and made me dreamy.

I asked my husband when he’s seen me relax. He reminded me of a period when I’d spend hours every day arranging and gluing little pictures I’d cut out of magazines onto paper, trying to make beautiful designs.

What I notice about these things which quiet me down, make me feel good or peaceful or relaxed, is that they are activities in which I focus on something in the here and now, engage in some activity enjoyable in and of itself.

What works for you?

Here is Basie (pronounced BAY-zee). She is a basil plant. Her favorite song is “Corner Pocket” by Count Basie. When I play it for her, I see her dancing out of the corner of my eye—but if I look directly at her, she stops due to shyness. She loves to soak up the sun and enjoys frequent misting. She’s very loving, kind and perceptive. Even though she is tiny, she’s very strong. I sometimes sing “Bicycle Built for Two” to her, substituting “Basie” for “Daisy”.

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My Favorite Books on Healing

I’ve been crazy about books all my life. Loved fiction when I was little through to my early thirties. Then I started reading a lot of non-fiction: biographies, memoirs, history.

Since I got off PTSD meds in 2012 and all the symptoms I had in my twenties came back, I’ve been mostly reading books related to healing.

I usually avoid memoirs detailing trauma because I get triggered too easily, but I downloaded Untangled by Alexis Rose on my Kindle yesterday and was riveted. This is one engrossing book. What a spirit she has. And what a story! Written beautifully, I could not put it down.

Next on my list to read is Peter Levine’s Trauma and Memory. I only hesitate because of the price ($16.99 on Kindle), but since his books have been vitally important to my understanding of PTSD, I’ll no doubt buy it.

Anyhoo, please add any books you’ve found helpful in healing. It doesn’t have to be literally about healing PTSD. Just books that have helped for whatever reason. I’m always looking for recommendations. Thank you.

Anatomy of the Spirit—Caroline Myss, Ph.D

Best book on chakras I’ve read.

Believe and It Is True—Deborah K. Lloyd

Inspiring. The author gets post-polio syndrome in middle-age. She tries alternative methods of healing with Reiki and a shaman and has surprising results.

The Body RemembersThe Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment—Babette Rothschild

Fantastic and illuminating. Case studies of PTSD clients, written by the therapist author. I loved how she kept her patients safe as they released trauma.

Buddha’s BrainThe Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom—Rich Hanson, Ph.D. with Richard Mendius, MD

How to stimulate, strengthen and rewire your brain for greater wellbeing.

Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation—Boon, Steele, Van der Hart

Revelatory. Includes workbook material. Very helpful.

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse—Ellen Bass, Laura Davis

Although I am not an incest survivor, this book gave me one epiphany after another when I first read it in my thirties.

Dance of the Four WindsSecrets of the Inca Medicine Wheel—Villoldo, Jendresen

All the books I list by Villoldo have to do with shamanism and healing. He frequently explains how the brain responds to trauma and the involuntary fragmentation of the self/soul in order to survive.

DenialA Memoir—Jessica Stern

Riveting. How normal a dangerous life feels to the survivor of trauma! Our body/mind will recreate scenarios of potential trauma again and again in order to release the energy trapped in our nervous systems.

Energy Medicine—Donna Eden

The “bible” of energy medicine. Lots of techniques and simple healing exercises.

Energy Work: The Secrets of Healing and Spiritual Development—Robert Bruce

A good book about moving energy through your body to heal your body. Lots of exercises. The narrative isn’t a laugh a minute, but the book is thorough and informative.

Focusing—Eugene T. Gendlin, Ph.D.

Incredibly powerful healing technique. To me, focusing is sort of a deep, focused mindful meditation of the body’s felt-sense leading to all sorts of amazing experiences, including revelations and release of pain. Warning: Body memories came up so quickly for me that I advise anyone with missing blocks of time to approach this method with caution. You may not remember, but your body does. You can always slow down or stop it if it gets too intense. Also, keep in mind some things might feel like body memories, but may instead be metaphors for what happened in lost time.

The Gift of Shamanism—Itzhak Beery and John Perkins

Absolutely fascinating account of Mr. Beery becoming a shaman and his adventures as a shaman. A lifelong atheist born on a kibbutz, he picked up a book by Hank Wesselman to read on a flight from Manhattan to Hawaii and it changed his life. He writes beautifully and the vignettes of healing are awe-inspiring.

Eight Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery—Babette Rothschild

Good basic information.

Healing Back Pain—John E. Sarno, MD

Dr. Sarno discovered that most of his patients’ back pain was unexpressed emotion.

Healing StatesA Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

Companion to the 12-part documentary. Visits with different kinds of healers and shamans in South America. Details experiences apprenticing to Peruvian shaman.

Healing the Folks Who Live Inside—Esly Regina Carvalho, Ph.D.

Explains EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. Thought provoking.

IlluminationThe Shaman Way of Healing—Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

He sees crises as initiations giving us the opportunity to become illuminated or awakened to our divine nature. Includes shamanic healing techniques and related discoveries in neurobiology. Talks about trauma and the brain.

Invisible HeroesSurvivors of Trauma and How They Heal—Belleruth Naparstek

A must-read. So inspiring. So illuminating. Simply wonderful.

In an Unspoken VoiceHow the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

He wrote this after his classic Waking the Tiger so it has updated and additional material. Great book.

Many Lives, Many Masters—Brian L. Weiss, MD

Fascinating account of skeptical Yale-educated psychiatrist stumbling upon the reality of reincarnation. A lot of healing stories, ideas and wisdom to contemplate as to the mystery of tragedy in human life.

PTSD Frozen in Time (Adventures in Releasing Buried Energy)—Ann E. Laurie

That’s me! I’m sneaking my book in here. Details what I did to heal my PTSD when the meds stopped working and all hell broke loose. Plus musings on PTSD.

The Power of Now—Eckhardt Tolle

Inspiring reading for living in the moment. Since the original trauma energy continually cycles through our bodies, it cannot be found in the past. Dealing with it in the now is the only way out. Gives helpful, easy-to-do techniques.

Shaman, Healer, Sage—Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

Well-written book detailing techniques to heal the imprints of disease and trauma in our energy field. Fascinating true accounts.

Soul Retrieval—Mending the Fragmented Self—Sandra Ingerman

I read this cover-to-cover in one sitting. This is the book that first inspired me to meet with a shaman for soul retrieval.

The Tapping Solution—Nick Ortner

Excellent explanation and clear directions for this simple healing practice with many inspiring case studies.

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political TerrorJudith Herman

A classic.

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma—Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

If you read only one book on PTSD, I vote this be the one.

What Every Body Is Saying—An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People—Joe Navarro

Mr. Navarro interprets body language based on his knowledge of the survival brain and how it involuntarily controls body movement and positioning. Fascinating.

PTSD and Shamanic Initiation

I woke up repeatedly last night in IBS pain and despair. This has not been an uncommon experience since getting off meds in 2012. I keep reminding myself of the message I received in a dream a year ago.

No way am I going to bore you with all the details. I remember Lawrence Saunders listing the top ten ways to instantly lose a reader and describing a dream was number one.

But since it inspired this piece, I feel I need to include it. I’ll sum it up in one sentence:

I was accepted as a fire fighter and told, by marvelously loving, luminous firemen, that what I was going through – releasing buried trauma energy and pain — was my initiation.

I didn’t ask them what I was being initiated into. I automatically assumed it was firefighting, (which, by the way, is a career path I never considered – although I admire and appreciate firemen. My husband was one.)

Anyhoo, when I am in a lot of pain, I try to remind myself of that dream and have faith I’m on a meaningful journey.

I believe there is a purpose to our suffering.

Once upon a time, I did not believe this. I had no spiritual life. I did not believe in the paranormal. I did not believe in spiritual intervention — for surely, I thought, if there was an Interventionist God, He would have intervened during the Holocaust, anytime children were abused, etc.

But then my meds stopped working and all heck broke loose. I thought I’d lose my mind with apparitions, pre-cognitive dreams, psychic moments, messages from spirits who passed, and visits from spirit animals. Reality forced me to have a change of heart and open my mind.

The nature of being is still a mystery to me, but I do know this PTSD life is not all there is.

So if what I’m going through is an initiation, what does that mean? And is it shamanic?

From what I’ve read, initiation is a turning point or crossroads on a journey of potential transformation. You leave the path you were on and take up another.

A crisis usually marks the beginning of shamanic initiation. It can be a trauma, serious illness or some involuntary experience or condition that disrupts a person’s life and transforms them so that they are irrevocably changed and have no choice but to see the world and themselves in an entirely new way. Joseph Campbell said they have a psychological break with reality. This is followed by alienation, isolation and despair, and often a nostalgia for the safe, certain world they once knew.

There is also a lot of fear because they don’t know what’s going on. They’re making their way in the dark. Their health unravels in unpredictable ways. They become uncomfortably aware of all their character flaws. That which previously brought comfort no longer does.

This kind of initiation isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a process over time with crisis points, dark nights of the soul, and periods where nothing seems to change.

Hank Wesselman says this initiation of tests, trials and tribulations, aka the “shamanic illness”, comes after the experiencer is involuntarily drawn into a direct, transformative relationship with Death, usually in the form of a spirit who acts as teacher and guardian and invites the potential shaman to experience the immense Power of the Universe, which includes entry into the Other World.

Whatever order in which all this happens, one way or another, the initiate hooks up with a spirit guide and journeys into non-ordinary reality, returning enlightened to help others — although they don’t have to. It’s their choice.

I think a lot of people with PTSD might be familiar with aspects of this experience of “shamanic illness” or initiation, given the change in a person’s soul and consciousness after trauma. I imagine a not insignificant amount of people with PTSD have the potential to become great healers, if they don’t block out reality with drugs and alcohol.

It would be so cool to be a healer. I’d love to heal people. But I don’t think I have the shamanic calling at this point. I certainly don’t have the healer’s ability and I definitely have not met the Angel of Death.

I know I’m being initiated into something. I just don’t know what.

 

PTSD Pain Buries Deep

In 2012, I got off all the PTSD meds I’d been on for twenty-five years.

I didn’t do it to be virtuous! They just didn’t work anymore — hadn’t for a few years – so it was like throwing money out the window.

Because I lowered my dose slowly over time with impunity, I was shocked to find all the symptoms I had in my twenties rush back when I got off the drugs completely. The worst of it was physical pain.

For me, the physical pain turned out to be buried emotional and/or trauma energy and I tried all sorts of things to get rid of it (which I wrote about in my book PTSD: FROZEN IN TIME Adventures in Releasing Energy). I pretty much cried the pain away over the course of three years. Trauma Releasing Exercises were vital in helping me jumpstart the tears since I’d been unable to cry for decades.

Not long after publishing my book, I downloaded Healing Back Pain by Dr. John Sarno. He explains how he came to the conclusion that unexpressed emotion, particularly anger and anxiety, was usually the cause of his patients’ chronic pain. He called it Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). This kind of pain primarily manifests in the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and buttocks. Sometimes arms and legs are effected and the patient feels pins and needles, tingling and/or numbness and weakness. 88% of his patients also had histories of migraine, heartburn, ulcers, IBS, eczema and other conditions. He even tied chest pain to TMS.

He noticed that when one area seemed to heal, pain showed up in another because the brain continued its conditioned method of finding physical areas to manifest emotional pain.

I was blown away by this book. His description of the neck, back, butt and leg pain was almost exactly like what I experienced. Even the weakness, numbness, and pins and needles feelings. I haven’t often come across an M.D. acknowledging that diverted, blocked or buried emotional energy can cause severe, disabling physical pain and debilitating conditions. (According to his theory, pain is caused by a lack of oxygen in the trouble area.)

He said that with 95% of his patients, simple awareness that the physical pain was actually anger or anxiety was enough to get rid of it.

I guess I’m in the 5% he acknowledged might need additional help. Awareness alone did not make my pain go away. I had to find a way to release the emotional energy.

Anyhoo, back in January, I’d just come out of four months of major stress, caretaking three family members in crises — and this was after a summer of stomach pain so intense, I could barely put two hours of sleep together in any twenty-four hour period.

I was pretty burned out. It had been only a few weeks since my husband had heart surgery, so I was still doing most of the domestic work and all outside errands. Late one cold, dark winter afternoon, I was on my way to Whole Foods and felt pain in my lower back. It was just in one tiny area, but still – who needed it?

It wasn’t disabling, though, so I went about my business. But I did take note in the days that followed when the pain came and when it went away to see if there was any pattern.

To my surprise, I discovered it came when I had to do something I didn’t want to do and it disappeared when I did something enjoyable.

I couldn’t believe it.

My body was actually telling me what made me happy and what didn’t.

The next time I felt that back pain (on the way to the laundry room), I said to my body, “The jig is up. I know you don’t want to do laundry right now, but we gotta do it. I promise we’ll do something fun later.”

That little pain in my back went away.

This is the only experience I’ve had where awareness alone was enough to get rid of the pain, but it did no good whatsoever in the three previous years when I suffered from sciatica, butt pain, back pain, foot pain, and neck pain.

All that pain did go away, thank God, but it took a lot of work to release it.

PTSD pain buries deep.