What if we (and not PTSD or its attendant vampires) got to formulate what a definition should really mean?
PTSD seeks to destroy us through amplifying our worst traumatic memories and suppressing our healthy memories. PTSD is often aided and abetted by those who inflict drive-by caring or drive-by guilt upon us by defining us away from healthy outcomes. These types of definitions, inflicted by PTSD and its vampires, seek to imprison us and drain us of relationships, life, and meaning.
What if the definition of a meaningful term allowed us a closer taste of God’s grace, a closer embrace of our own spirit and the spirit of those who we cherish?
It can be difficult to break out of the false definitions that PTSD builds into prisons. The exercise below is meant to help us to both break out of those prisons and provide us a sounding board for our further healing.
Regular readers of PTSD Spirituality know I advocate the arts and writing as one of the instrumental means to understanding, surviving, and even healing our PTSD. Writing is healing. Writing about PTSD and our lives puts us in the driver’s seat, it helps us to gain more control of our lives and gradually to diminish the grip PTSD has on our lives, our souls, our relationships. So, if possible, write your responses out. You don’t have to share your responses with anyone unless you choose to. Keyboarding is fine, but longhand is superb if you are able.
Not Quite Lastly: There is no time limit to this. Think about your responses. If you have the time allow things to percolate to the surface and jot them down. Maybe, write out a set of preliminary responses and then revisit the questions a day or two later.
Almost Lastly: This can also be done as a couple or in a small group. This is a bit more challenging because to do it meaningfully, one has to be honest and vulnerable, in what they remember, ponder, and write out. That said, it can also lead to a deeper trust and commitment between people who care about one another.
Actually Lastly: While some of the queries can be answered with a quick “Yes” or “No,” try to go beyond I this. It’s not a test to see how fast you can plow through it. But if you instantly have a “Yes” or “No” reaction, don’t just skip to the next question. Rather, explore why you think “Yes” or “No” to that particular question.
Really Lastly (and this time I MEAN it!): Whichever way you decide to explore this, take a chance, give it a whirl!
Taking Charge of Our Memories and Definitions
1. Can you remember one, two, or three happy instances or moments in your life? Don’t fret if the situation later changed or crashed. But, was there a time, a moment, when things were not so bad? Can you spend a few seconds to a few minutes just trying to resurrect and solidify that memory?
2. Can you be open to the possibility that you are still a person who can be loved, a person who has value?
3. Can you be open to the possibility that you can love another person, animal, or thing? Is there a healthy memory that you can find love in, regardless of how that moment may have spun out later?
4. Can you be open to the possibility that God exists? If you do, is their the possibility that God loves you? Can you separate the reality of God from what some dickweeds (some “churches,” pastors,” “philosophers,” or “theologians”) say God is?
[For questions six, seven, and eight: If “paint” does not work for you, then maybe opt for music, sculpture, poetry story, or song.]
5. Can you imagine what “love” should be? Again discard what the dickweeds might say. What would you say it should be? If you were the artist who could paint what the word “love” is, how would you paint it?
6. Same again, but this time the word is “forgiveness.” Here goes: Can you imagine what “forgiveness” should be? Again discard what the dickweeds might say. What would you say it should be? If you were the artist who could paint what the word “forgiveness” is, how would you paint it?
7. Once more, with feeling…Can you imagine what “partnership” should be? Again discard what the dickweeds might say. What would you say it should be? If you were the artist who could paint what the word “partnership” is, how would you paint it?
8. We started this with the question about happy instances or moments in your life. If you took the time to ponder the above questions, and even wrote them out longhand, that’s ideal.
Now for bonus points: Having swam through the previous questions, pondered them, hopefully wrote out your response, can you resurrect or solidify one, two, or three happy or healthy moments from your past? There is no right or wrong answer here.
Did any new healthy memories give you a wave and a hello? Are the memories you experienced, whether the same as in question one or brand new, come a bit easier after responding through the intermediate questions?
Other Explorations, Other Breakouts
What other terms or situations do you think that PTSD and the Drive-by Caring/Guilt crowd use to deepen our prison? What other terms or situations need to be re-assessed so that we may further heal?
We can always benefit from a little more healing, a bit more growing, becoming more aware – and forgiving – of who we are.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z