Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding Peace in the Heat

Everybody looks forward to summer. The lead up to Memorial Day weekend is awash with excitement about the coming weeks of relaxation, sun and fun. I like summer too, but unfortunately my enjoyment is tainted by memories. These are not memories I deliberately dredge up -- they just come with the warming weather, longer days and rising temperatures.Typically when the memories start to invade, I berate myself for dwelling on the past; for not being grateful for all I have and how far I've come; for not depending on God and being "all better".

The fact of the matter is, I was viciously and repeatedly molested as a child, and the vast majority of the abuse occurred in the summer. So while everyone else is excited and looking forward to the new season, my body and mind are gearing up, unconsciously, for what may happen next. Will there be more abuse? How bad will it be this time? Will he/she succeed in killing me this time? I am vulnerable all over again. I know that I won't see those people this summer. I have separated myself from all of my abusers, some by choice, some by geography and some by death (not at my hands), and yet the body remembers. It remembers the pain, the terror, the heat, the sun; leading to old habits of fear, sadness and isolation.

So how do I fight it? Sometimes well, other times not so well. This past weekend brought dreams, pain, sadness and depression. I fell into old traps of blaming myself, denigrating myself, and fearing everyone around me. I saw my therapist yesterday. She reminded me of how far I've come. She told me I was doing well. She told me to be kind to myself. And she told me to remember the good things that have happened in the summer in the years since the abuse ended.

Yesterday I went to the pool for the first time this summer. I swam laps and laid in the sun. I read a paperback novel and talked with an old friend. I had a few moments of feeling "normal", or at least what I think normal feels like. It was good.

I may do it again today.

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