The last poem that I wrote was entitled “Faith Without Works”. You can find that poem here. Today’s poem, Broken Pieces, deals with the emotional process of deciding to enter the door of healing: the closed door represents survival mode, and open the opened door represents the door of thriving.
Our last podcast, Lost in the Woods of Trauma, dealt with the process of going from having the trauma identity to reign, to have our identity in Christ to take over. This week’s episode: Grace Aspect of Living With and Healing from Trauma, shares about the embarrassing moments that we all have when we live with and heal from trauma on a daily basis, even when we have come a long way with our healing. It also handles how to see these moments as God sees them. Click to listen!
Traumatic Childhood Events
My Traumatic Childhood Event
My Eye Doctor Visit
Grace Aspect: My Resolve
Grace Aspect: Bible Verses for Meditation
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need.
In our Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis Series, I dissect issues and symptoms of PTSD/trauma. This is in hopes of letting people know that they are not alone, as well as giving people the freedom to comment, and talk about how PTSD/trauma has affected their lives in these areas. The last post in the Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis Series was one dealing with the Holiday Aspect of trauma. You can find that post here. Today’s post will focus on the Digestion Aspect.
One surprising revelation for me was realizing that PTSD/trauma actually affects your digestion. I stumbled upon this realization in June of 2014, a couple of months after getting divorced. There are three things that I noticed when it comes to trauma and digestion:
Trauma and grief will come out in the form of regurgitation.
I am not trying to sound gross here, so please bear with me. Due to complications with my ex-husband’s health, as well as the fact that I had stuffed my emotions for so long, my grief was delayed. Grieving my divorce, and all the events surrounding it, were delayed. Alleviating some of the symptoms that I was experiencing seemed downright frightening because of stuffing for so long.
This caused me to be in a vicious cycle of stuffing and feeling like my face and chest was going to explode, with very little relief. Trauma is in the tissues, and so I discovered, along with reading information on my own, that movement, grief, and massaging helped to release it. The problem came into play when I finally felt like I could release the trauma. However, the underlying feeling was that if I started crying, there would be no bottoming out. Subconsciously, I knew it was going to be a bad release.
Instead of my system waiting any longer, it released the trauma and grief in the form of regurgitation. Initially, I thought that it was just that maybe something upset my stomach. However, after four rounds of this, and feeling grief in between each round, I knew that wasn’t the case at all. It didn’t take long to put two and two together.
I felt very vulnerable, and my son kept asking me, “What did you eat?” I told him that it had nothing to do with the food. It was physiological.
Trauma will cause your system to get confused about hunger and fullness.
Another weird discovery that I made is that every now and then, stored trauma and unreleased grief will make your system confused as far as satiety is concerned. There are times when I have felt like I could keep eating forever. Then, there are other times that I feel hungry, and then attempt to eat, but will all of a sudden feel full.
Lastly, there are times when I can literally feel my emotions trapped in my midsection, causing my body to try to figure out whether it is satisfied, or it needs more food. It is the weirdest thing. It doesn’t happen as much anymore. However, when it happens, it can be very frustrating.
When doing research, one of the explanations that I found is that because of PTSD/trauma, at times, the blood that should flow into the stomach, moves away from it, going to other areas like the arms.
Trauma will cause you to become hypersensitive to certain foods, causing severe panic attacks when consumed in normal portions.
The last issue that I would like to discuss is how trauma causes hypersensitivity to foods. These foods vary from person to person. For me, it was sugar. I first discovered this when I decided to eat a glazed donut in 2015.
Within five minutes, a severe panic attack came on, I felt like I was going to hit the roof. The only thing that would help my system to calm down was drinking an excess amount of water, and then deep breathing, and a lot of prayer. Taking multivitamins has helped , but it is still not the same.
My system has improved a little. However, it can’t handle what it once was able to. Sometimes, I get frustrated with this fact. It is what it is. I have learned to accept the fact that a few moments of pleasure for an hour or more of panic just isn’t worth it.
How has PTSD/trauma affected your digestion? What are some of the ways that you use to cope with it?
Have you ever lost your kid? That’s the scariest thing in the world? What about you? Have you ever been lost yourself? I mean really lost!!! Think about how you felt. Today, on Healing Our Brokenness, we are going to discuss being lost in the woods. Lost in the woods is a term that I give for “Identity Issues of Trauma.” I described this issue in the poem that I wrote that is called, “Stolen Identity”. You can find that poem here.
Lost in the Woods of Trauma Outline
Discussion of Being Lost
What Led to My Discovery of Being Lost in the Woods
One of the worst things to happen is to be a victim of stolen identity. Sometimes it can take a couple of years to recover all the information that has been lost. When you are Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis, you also experience a sense of stolen identity. This poem has been written with the hopes that you can relate and find comfort in Our Creator, who gives the final stamp of approval.
From trauma’s pieces.
Like a little child.
Lost in the woods.
Look at all the roles.
And then all the should’s.
Where am I?
Who am I?
How do I get back?
Follow the cross.
Where it gives no slack.
You are in the court building.
Where the Judge sits on high.
Where his throne reaches ceiling.
And then out through the sky.
“You have been adopted.
You know who you are.
Memories were so blocked.
Had you traveling way too far.
Ground yourself in me.
Where you’ll find your name.
You’ve already been set free.
You will never be the same.”
Bible Verses to Meditate On:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Last week’s podcast was Episode 9: The Never-ending Shame Cycle. You can find that podcast episode here. This week’s podcast isEpisode 10: Pick up Your Mat and Walk. Are you sick and tired of not being healed? Do you feel like you have been laying down forever? Then this podcast is for you.
Outline of Podcast: Pick up your mat and walk!
Story of Man at the Pool of Bethesda
Deeper Meaning of Jesus’ Question
What Mat are You Carrying?
How To Get Up
Do You Want to Be Made Well?
Scripture Verses to Meditate On
John 5: 1-14
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda, and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Background on The Holiday Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis
About a month ago, I discussed The Flashback/Images/Nightmare Aspect of Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis. You can find that post here. Today, I will discuss The Holiday Aspect of Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.
The Holiday Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis
Holiday time can be tough in general. Let alone, if the holiday time is when you experienced a series of events that led to PTSD/trauma. When the holidays come around, it can feel like you are reliving these events. This is because the energy from them are still residing in our bodies.
The holiday season of 2012 is when a great majority of the trauma that my kids and I experienced in the last six years took place. It started a little before Thanksgiving, and reached its peak right after New Year’s Day. Almost daily, emotionally draining activities and sabotage were done to myself and the kids in order for me to put him out, so that he wouldn’t have to be the “bad guy” who left us.
The peak was a fake-suicide stunt with my ex-husband starting up the car with the garage door down, and the engine running. It was a last attempt to pull me back in emotionally, and to get me back to being the person that was a doormat/enabler, with low self-worth.
God had already begun to work a miracle in my life six months prior to this event, and so this “doormat” person was not there anymore. It was God’s grace that I went downstairs to check the garage, or this fake suicide stunt could have killed all of us. The kids were sleeping upstairs at the time.
Ever since then, the holiday time has been painful, and a time that I struggle. It has gotten better in some areas, and worse in others.
The first holiday season (2013) after my ex-husband left, was very difficult because I wasn’t able to tolerate any Christmas music or movies. A friend of mine dropped me off at the grocery store, and she waited outside for me. I had to pick up a few items. I remember Christmas music playing on the radio, and literally feeling trapped. The reaction to the music surprised me. Before I knew it, I was caught up in the “Overwhelmed Aspect”. An explanation of that aspect can be found here.
I quickly found the items that I needed, and got out of the store as fast as I could. This continued being my normal for the first year. A few weeks after that, the church that I was attending for Divorce Care offered a session for dealing with grief during the holidays. I gladly signed up for the class. We discussed all the practical unexpected things that could happen during the holidays, and how to handle them.
I can listen to more Christmas music now than before. I can also watch Holiday movies, with breaks in between for some of them. It is almost like the smell outside and the feel in the air knows it’s November, and then the trauma aspect kicks in for me. Down below, I have listed some things to help you ease through the holiday aspect of living with trauma during this season.
Self-Help for Making it Through The Holiday Aspect
Take advantage of the community that God has given you. Talk to friends on the phone. Have a girls’ or guys’ movie night. A month ago, me and my friends got together to watch a home movie in front of the fireplace. It was a wonderful time of eating, fellowship, and laughs. When you are dealing with anxiety or depression, you need something to help lift your emotions.
Therapy. This therapy could involve going to see your therapist, writing in your journal, poetry, painting, or cooking. There are several activities that allow us to be creative and are therapeutic at the same time.
Movement. Give your body the gift of movement. When you exercise, the blood and oxygen starts flowing, and the natural feel-good hormones rise to the surface. I like going for a walk, even if it’s cold, just to make my adrenal glands happy, and feel refreshed at the same time. I also like dancing to 70s’ and 80s’ music and walking the stairs for a certain amount of time to get my heart pumping.
Doses of Music, Movies, Etc. Try to allow yourself to watch or listen to music, movies, etc. a little at a time in order to build up resilience. Everyone is different. I found that when I tried to ban everything, it only made the trauma worse, so I introduced a little bit at a time. I am still in the process of giving myself little doses here and there.
Self-Care. Practice self-care by trying to get enough sleep, rest, and food as possible. Taking your vitamins and drinking herbal tea can be relaxing. It might be a time to take get bloodwork done to see if your vitamin D is low, since we are in the winter months, and there is less sunshine.
Prayer. Ask others for prayer, and lift yourself up in prayer as well. Listening to uplifting Christian music can be comforting and minister to your soul.
Send some comments to let me know what you use to get through the holiday aspect of trauma.
Prayers for you and your family as you march through this season!
Our last podcast, Episode 7: The Benefits of Suffering, was recorded two weeks ago. When we are dealing with suffering, as the word itself suggests, there seems to be no benefits at all. God has a word for all of us in how we can see this differently. That episode can be found here.
Today’s episode, Episode 8: The Fear and Exhaustion Cocktail lets us know the dangers of what happens when we mix the two. Hold onto your seats! Or, should I say run fast!
The Fear and Exhaustion Cocktail Outline
Cause and Effect of Fear
Cause and Effect of Exhaustion
Three Things That Happen when we Drink the Fear and Exhaustion Cocktail
Remedy for Fear and Exhaustion Hangover
What Happened when I Drank the Fear and Exhaustion Cocktail
Bible Verses for Today’s podcast
David Among the Philistines-1 Samuel 27
27 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”
2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath.3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal.4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.
5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”
6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since.7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.
8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.)9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.
10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.”11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory.12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.”
Elijah Flees to Horeb 1 Kings 19
19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3 Elijah was afraida] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there,4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shatteredthe rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
The Call of Elisha
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Background on the Flashback/Images/Nightmare Aspect
A week ago, I discussed The “Inability to Focus” Aspect: Living With and Healing From Trauma on a Daily Basis. That discussion can be found here. Today, I will be discussing The Flashback/Images/Nightmare Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.
This discussion has three parts to it. When I compare myself to others whom I have talked to, they present themselves differently, and so I deemed it necessary to explain them separately. As far as the nightmare aspect is concerned, my experience has been that there has been very few trauma nightmares. When the nightmares do occur, they are usually because I have fallen asleep with the television on, and a horror movie happened to come on, and that movie turned the dream into a trauma nightmare.
Also, at our last residence, because of the vaulted ceilings, you could hear everything that was going on no matter what room you were in. It gave the impression that we were in closer proximity than we really were. During this time, the sleep deprived trauma symptom was at its peak. I would either wake up every 45 minutes to an hour, or fall asleep at 3 am, If my son was playing a war game on his Xbox, then that would also set me off into a trauma nightmare.
Because of the way that my brain is wired, whenever I go to sleep, I have to be careful of what is playing in the background because it will become part of my dream. The game would cause me to dream of something violent, wake up with trauma-induced fear, my body stiff as a board, clenched teeth, and unfortunately my mouth filled with blood from biting my gums.
It would normally take a long time to go back to sleep after this. I would end up telling my son to turn the game volume down. The very few times that this happened would usually involve me praying desperately for God to take away the trauma fear, and to give me the sweet sleep that he promised us in Proverbs 3.
What I do have a lot of is what I call trauma dreams. What I noticed is that when I am unable to process the trauma, i.e. grieve it, then the trauma will show up in my dreams where I am able to process it. Usually what happens is that I will wake up with heavy grief, remembering the dream, and then grieving some more.
The weird thing about what I call trauma dreams is that there isn’t always one theme that the dream is about. Sometimes there are five different things that I need to process subconsciously, and the dream will mix all these different things together.
Trauma flashbacks usually occur through triggers. These triggers can be weather related, smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and even touch. Basically, triggers can involve any of the five senses. The triggers aspect is discussed in more detail here.
About a year ago, I made some bean and cheese quesadillas that were pretty good. At least, I thought they were. However, my kids were only able to take a few bites. The quesadillas triggered memories of an earlier time.
When I was working at a toxic company for six months, I overheard the boss mention one word. That word sent me into a tailspin of flashbacks in regards to an extremely traumatic situation that happened with my ex-husband. This situation of bullying was going on while my grandmother was in the hospital dying. Basically, you never know what will trigger flashbacks.
As the spring and winter approaches, these also bring the flashbacks on. This is because my eyes are very sensitive to transitions in the brightness and darkness outside. I go into this blackout aspect more deeply here.
I am not sure of how many people deal with this aspect. Where most people have violent nightmares, my trauma comes forth as violent images in front of my face. What I have noticed is that these images will also emerge if my brain is having problems processing what it is seeing.
It can be as small as a simple fight or argument. Sometimes I am able to tolerate it. However, if the movie shows a lot of it, then I will see images. A few months ago, I was watching a Netflix movie that reminded me of my ethnicity, and growing up in the black church and community.
The content started becoming questionable, and I knew the Holy Spirit was trying to signal to me that it probably wasn’t a good idea to continue. My confirmation was when a violent fight broke out between a man and a woman, and then the trauma images came forth. The next thing that I knew, I said, “Okay. We’re done. Thank you Lord for confirmation.”
If there was anything in this discussion that resonated with you, feel free to drop me a line below.
For about three months now, I have featured a series entitled, ” Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis. Last week, I discussed the “Blackout Aspect”. That discussion can be found here. Today’s discussion in the series ” Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis”, will center in on The “Inability to Focus” Aspect.
When we focus, we are able to use all of our attention in order to get a task done. Unfortunately, with PTSD/trauma, there are times when the inability to focus can literally get the best of you. There are several times that I have noticed this happening to myself. These are the triggering situations when the inability to focus happens the most:
obtrusive thoughts are coming through
you are in shock/denial about the truth/reality of a situation
when you haven’t had enough sleep
Obtrusive thoughts that come through are the thoughts that are for the most part not your own. These thoughts are usually part of the inner critic voice inside of you from the person who abused or criticized you, or caused some type of pain or rejection. When these thoughts are racing through, it is hard to focus on anything else because the thoughts are trying to literally take over your whole brain process. I start off by praying and asking God to “take my thoughts captive”. If the obtrusive thoughts are mild, this does the trick. However, to keep it real, sometimes the thoughts are so out of control, that I am praying to God all day long about the same thing to the point of exhaustion.
Shock / Denial
When I am in shock/denial about some revelation that God has brought forth, I immediately start having problems focusing. This happened about three weeks ago when a personal situation with someone blew wide open. During this time, I ended up redirecting myself several times over to the truth, which is good. However, what I notice is that the truth is such a shock at this point, that the inability to focus increases instead of decreases from the truth.
This is because the revelation of the truth started the cycle in the first place, if that makes sense. The only thing that helps to ease this up is when our brains know that it is safe to grieve. Grieving breaks through the inability to focus aspect little by little when it comes to shock/denial. In this sense, I think of it as being a protection from further emotional and mental damage. This particular case from shock/denial is a form of dissociation as well.
Lack of Sleep
Lastly, when it comes to trauma, we have to have enough sleep. This can’t be stressed enough. When this doesn’t happen, it increases the inability to focus. In PTSD/trauma victims, this is exaggerated more than usual cases. The situation can get so bad that you exhibit ADHD-like symptoms that are trauma-induced. You have difficulty putting thoughts and sentences together, and you feel like your words are far apart.
My Experience with Lack of Sleep
One time about eight months ago this happened. It was extremely scary. I had been having problems sleeping for about a week do to a trial that I was dealing with, and the next thing that I knew, I realized that I was having problems gathering thoughts and putting sentences together. I prayed and asked God to help me sleep, and to restore my mind. And he didn’t fail to answer.
Even if this is not your area of struggle with PTSD/trauma, I am quite sure that there are other that you have that may be just as challenging. Feel free to comment below on how the inability to focus aspect has challenged you.