On Cycles and Healing
All of us live in a world of cycles.
Cycles, I think, are meant to be double-edged swords. They are the necessary friction of life that I have talked about before.
In the best of cases, we use these predictable cycles as a means of helping us navigate through the phases of our lives. Many of us probably recognize how these are sometimes referred: familiarity, teachable moments, evolution, wisdom, maturity.
We are probably all aware of how a new cycle can serve as a clean slate. When I was in school, every September I was fond of saying "I don't have a single poor grade!" Or, we are probably also aware of a sense of comfort in what is familiar. Every Spring is a time of renewal. Most every Christmas has been a time of magical wonder. I live in an area of the world that snows right around Christmas-time and that serves as a metaphorical punctuation mark.
But, anniversaries of traumatic events and triggers are also types of cycles. And therein lies the friction. And the dichotomy.
Speaking for myself, I know I can very easily find myself trapped in a new cycle and have little or no perspective on it. In other words, the cycle can be strictly seen from a historical point of view. In still other words, parts of me can be stuck in the past.
I so dislike admitting that. I would rather believe that I am full of awareness and am fully healed and fully safe. Period.
But that is simply not true.
For those of us who have lived many years using dissociation as a core means of coping or navigating through cycles or triggers of past trauma, this is not really difficult to fathom.
I have not written here in over a month, and during that time I have experienced many triggers and not navigated all of them well. Just ticking off some of the highlights, there was the perennial Halloween "holiday", with all its normally charged associations, plus we had a rare crippling snowstorm. Then the relentless news of the US college sports sex abuse scandals, which have rocked me to my core. It was not really much of a surprise, but I was caught unprepared by the impact of the late November "anniversaries" of major suicide attempts from the early 90s and the connections to where I was last year (in the hospital). Finally, "church abuse" news, direct or indirect, seems to always crop up.
Reflecting on the past month or two—I have lost track—I can easily say life has been more tilted towards disconnection and chaos and "living in the past" than it has been towards awareness and looking towards the future. My life has certainly not been in any sort of balance, and I have not been safe from purposely hurting myself. As a result, life has become extremely distorted and unstable, and what feels safe also does not feel safe, sometimes simultaneously. Some of you know will know what that statement really means.
I have been living precariously. There has been a thin line separating safety and harm, connection and disconnection, giving up and holding onto hope.
What is most scary, is that I do not even think I realized this!
But this afternoon, the seas have calmed. The compass appears to be working. The ship's wheel isn't spinning out of control anymore. The ship is moving forward. With direction. With purpose. I can see land.
Despite what our psychological "clocks" tell us, we arrive at a new cycle, but always at a place in time that is ahead of the last one. We may not appreciate that as a statement of fact in our times of struggle. But it is a fact. No matter how "in the past" parts of us may be, I strongly believe that we are destined to heal, to find balance, to learn from our past, to build a better future.