When I first left Iowa to come back to Florida, I knew what I was sacrificing-
I just didn’t know how much it would harm me.
I used to have free weekly therapy sessions at a center that worked specifically with survivors of sexual violence. I also used to have weekly chiropractic sessions to adjust and work on the ways my trauma has been stored in my body- specifically along my spine.
But I also had to deal with being in the Midwest. A place where passivity and passive aggressiveness are in the majority of other’s coping skills- and where my own coping skills came in sharp contrast against them. I dealt with foreboding feelings of alienation and fear as the politics became ever so clearly divided and binary right before my eyes- between the hills and the corn fields.
I thought that by escaping back to Florida, where I held personal lineage and history, that I would find and feel more at home, more safe, more held in my own ability to heal. And that I wouldn’t need the therapy and chiropractic care that I had become so accustomed to holding me together.
It turns out, I wasn’t prepared for the devastation of losing both of those resources.
I wasn’t prepared to let go of the therapy sessions cold turkey and go back to depending on my own self-diagnoses and internal therapy talks/chats/check-ins. I wasn’t prepared for my back to once again begin to crack and crunch every time I moved or tried to relax.
I had no networks of free or reduced care to land on- and I’ve struggled ever since to even feel that I am deserving of those things. That I am deserving of primary physical care, much less a stable place to reliably go to for counseling sessions.
Part of what held me back from reaching for these services was the obvious- there was no financial means for me to do either of those. I tried again and again to find reliable jobs that promised healthcare and insurance, or that gave me enough money to imagine the possibility of access to care… but each time the jobs themselves have broken me down physically and emotionally, past the point of return. They have cost me more than they have bought me, and ultimately burnt me to embers.
The other part that held me back was the shreds of denial left in me that proclaimed, “I am okay enough, well enough, stable enough, and that should be enough,” over and over. These were the parts that were adamant to be seen, to be heard, and to be glorified over the aching and bruised parts crying for a return to what felt safe, home, and joy…
But instead I’ve felt grief, loss, bitterness, anger, and anxiety.
(In the past 9 months) I’ve lost persons and relationships to death, misunderstanding, and separation. I’ve navigated the transition from the political support I felt amongst my comrades in Iowa back to the red conservative south, and I’ve felt the rage at the bigotry and bias on proud display all around me. I’ve stuffed and snuffed down my bitterness at the isolation of my location- at the indignant feelings I’ve festered over the low pay for my labor… and I’ve developed resentments toward those in places with more access to the resources I miss.
And, cyclically, I’ve felt shame for all of these feelings. All of these thoughts. All of this processing, all at once. The last straw on my meager camel’s back.
And that’s when I really started feeling the emotional pains manifesting in my physical body.
My hip, ankle, and wrist- all familiar sites to me that have given me grief when re-exploring trauma that is held in those locations- all began to fall apart at once.
My chest felt as if it was being repeatedly stabbed, and my left arm began going numb between the points of carpel tunnel in my wrist and the cavity where my heart meets my ribs.
Finally tired of struggling within my mental landscape with no other guide than my own experiences, I broke down and went to a community center. I had been holding out from going because of the experiences I had had in similar centers elsewhere, where I felt shame at my declaration of Unemployed, Uninsured, and Unsure of where to live.
Against my hyper-vigilant instincts, I called in an intake for primary care and counseling. It felt like holding my breath and gasping for air waiting weeks for the appointment to come. It felt like time was taking it’s time, making me stretch and wait and tear mind muscles over the yearning and wanting for someone, anyone, to hear me with more than just familial ears. For someone to bring a new perspective to my over-mapped self-analysis of my brain- for someone to validate and hear my experiences without loyalties getting in the way of my voice…
I’ve wanted so much for so long to go back to therapy. And I finally did, and will.
It will come at the cost of prioritizing those costs over other expenditures I’ve been looking forward to, but it will be worth it.
Because I’m worth it- in all my mental and physical capacities that have become hindered by all of this.
I’m ready to have someone else help pull me into perspective, help bring me back to center. To bring me back to myself.
Something has got to- because the anger is back.
The anger is back because the pain is back.
(Not like it ever left,)
but it’s back with a vengeance that is demanding a change. So a change I will give it.
To be continued…