Tools For Trauma

When it comes to dealing with the kind of emotional drama only being all grown up can bring, I do believe that each and everyone of us are very, very different and that there is no right or wrong way to live through it, no guarantee that you will ride the cycle of grief exactly as prescribed and no promises that you won't have the screaming ab-dabs in the most unexpected of places. Some of us are more stoic than others: reaching, extremely quickly, the kind of stillness we barely know we possess when all is well, and choosing to convert that inner silence into steely strength enough to make difficult decisions and keep on keeping on. Some of us cry on the inside and switch on a smile for the outside world not because we seek to deceive them but because we know that the more we smile the greater the possibility of once again believing in that smile all over again. Some of us clean. Some of us drink. Some of us cry in the comfortable armchairs of complete strangers and go away feeling all the better for it.

We are not the same. None of us. We each stock emotional toolboxes full of the kind of quick fixes we have long come to rely on, but each of those toolboxes will be different to the next: each containing the kind of tools that may or may not mend the broken soul of our neighbour or best friend. And so it is not for the purpose of prescription that I am about to list my own selection of tools for trauma, but instead for the purpose of picking and mixing those tools that might just make all the difference between a good day and a bad day for you.

These then are the tools that are getting me through...

1. Pranayama.

I could no more twist my body into a series of twist yogic poses today than I could take up pole-dancing tomorrow. But I can breathe in a way that stills my mind and slows down the turmoil in my tummy thanks to my TM teacher who took the time to show me how to practise Pranayama (gently breathing through one nostril in turn) when I could barely sit still long enough to meditate, nor keep the tears from swimming down my face whenever I encountered her. It helped. It is helping. It is quick and simple and works with the natural rhythm of the body to bring almost immediate relief from upset...

2. Morning Pages.

I am a writer. Writing is what I do. And although I convince myself that I will not be capable of writing when trauma strikes, it quickly becomes apparent that it is deeply felt emotion that  lets my truth flow at it's most fluent. However there is a time and a place for truth and in the midst of a usually upbeat blog is no place to let it linger and so I am using morning pages to make sense of all that comes galloping into my head the minute the sun rises. It makes all the difference to getting through the day, reveals feelings I didn't know I had, and spills out what would otherwise fester. Morning pages then, this time around, are some kind of essential...

3.   Other Peoples Thoughts.

Who doesn't love quotes? Who cannot take someone else's words, probably completely out of context and apply them, like soothing balm to their own situation? We all can. Words in even the most inane of sentences have the power to assuage and inspire, comfort and commiserate. And so I am collecting words on Pinterest. Words I can wrap around myself like so many hugs and whisper like prayers when I cannot sleep...

My favorites right now...

"My friends remind me by their very steadfastness, that truth, beauty and goodness exist in the world and that, no matter what, there are and always will be, people loving people through thick and thin." ~ Source unknown.

"You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it." ~Source unknown.

And "Always be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle." ~ Plato.

Words matter. My own and other peoples.

4. Candlelight.

My old standby. Because it is impossible to do anything other than be by the flicker of a candle. Because candlelight encourages me to seek hush, to turn down the noise and to slow down my thoughts. And because sometimes sorrow needs scent. A fragrant memory to mark the pain, and for me this time my bedroom is filled with the dark perfume of Amber Noir, the ritual of lighting my candles as I prepare for bedtime once again the source of comfort it always was, if not a little darker to match my despondency.

5. Warm water.

Sipping warm water throughout the course of the day is a tried and tested Ayurvedic remedy for better digestion and the soothing of a troubled constitution. And though it takes a while to adapt to the taste, once you are in the habit of it, filling a flask with hot water and sipping it slowly throughout the day becomes a ritual as essential as breathing and twice as comforting when your nerves are hopping in your veins. Add ginger or cloves to taste...

6. A Reason To Leave the House.

When the world has fallen apart it is all too easy to stay in your jimjams and wallow until the pain has yellowed like an old bruise. And while I do believe that it is our house that will eventually heal our heart, we also need fresh air, sunlight and the reassuring knowledge that much as it seems impossible, life is still going on beyond our front doors. And so each day I am giving myself a little errand to run. A place to be. A something or other to be fetched.  A mooch around the second-hand bookshop. Sandwiches nibbled at with friends who understand in a new cafe in town. The collection of a new alarm clock tomorrow. Group meditation the day after. Reasons to carry on with the business of existing. Reasons to live life the way it is meant to be lived regardless.

7. Beautiful Things.

Tiny little gifts for me. Flowers. Flowers everywhere. White Gladioli and pale cream roses. A bar of pink soap. A living room so tidy it makes my head hurt. A pair of Elizabeth Goudge books which are nothing if not exquisitely old fashioned fairy-tales for grown-ups. A cosy autumnal jumper sprinkled with twinkles. An amber coloured bottle of my own perfume. The word LOVE written on everything I own. Letters scrawled in green ink. Bewildered, but preciously unconcerned hugs from my little boy. Elderflower bubbly. A gift of homemade soup from Diane. An I love You porcelain heart from Kath. Decision taking form, cementing itself upon my heart. Relief. Terror. Acceptance. And tomorrow. Because no matter what, there is always hope, always a beautiful tomorrow somewhere on the horizon.

Somewhere. Someday soon.