In the early morning hours of a winter’s day in 1944, Corrie Ten Boom stood in line for roll call at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. A middle-aged woman, she and her family had been arrested by the Nazi’s for saving Jews. Standing in that awful place surrounded by suffering, Corrie lifted her eyes to the sky. Suddenly, a lark flew overhead. Its song soared to the heavens. Every prisoner looked up. For the next three weeks, the lark appeared every morning and became a reminder to Corrie that even in the midst of despair, truth and beauty and goodness continue.

No matter how much CPTSD symptoms try to suffocate us, there is another life apart from it. Flashbacks make us think this is all there is and all there ever was and all there ever will be. The most insidious thing about long-term early childhood trauma is the damage it does to the inner person. We see the world differently. Life is not safe and people are not trustworthy. Used to being betrayed by those closest to us, we have learned to expect danger even when there is nothing threatening us in the present. It makes it difficult to cope with the normal bumps of life much less life’s challenges.

I have a special place for meditation a few blocks from my house. It’s a beautiful pond with a fountain surrounded by weeping willows. One day, I noticed a large group of Canada Geese meandering toward the water. The last goose walked with a hitch and a hop in his step. I looked closer. He was missing afoot. He hobbled on the stump; managed to lift his wings in flight and landed in the water just as beautifully as the others.

Suddenly, a clattering golf cart engulfed in cigar smoke and filled with beer bellies guffawed its way over to the green nearby. The willows swayed in the breeze as the geese made lazy circles in the water. The golfers teed off, oblivious to the surrounding beauty and ignorant of the triumph of my one-footed friend.

How many times have I wondered what it would be like to be normal? How nice it would be to blow through life with a big fat beer belly riding in a golf cart puffing on a hand-rolled cigar. But I am like the one-footed goose, permanently marred and insufficiently suited for life.

Our stumbling steps toward wholeness may not be noticed by others. When we sit beside the willows and allow the warmth of the sun to melt away a little more grief, the effort is unrecognized. When I have the desire to reach out in friendship, the energy to express myself through creativity, and the courage to keep on trying, I have crossed over from death to life.

Trauma recovery affords me the gift of understanding in a way “two-footed” folks don’t have. Perhaps Like the golfers; so-called “normal people” are the ones who really miss out.

Life is beautiful. Trauma survivors know that in a way beer-bellied golfers never could. After all, you don’t need two feet to make a stunning landing in the water.

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