Where Angels Fear to Tread! (as published in The Friday Edition of HeartBalm Healing at https://heartbalm.substack.com)
We all have our stories, our wounds, and how we began, were molded, survived, and endured. These are important to honor and take time to understand, find acceptance and heal. I personally do not like talking about my story because of the sense of vulnerability it brings up for me among other personal reasons. I also write under a pseudonym for many reasons but also as a protective mechanism. But I also know that sharing our stories, educating and helping others, and giving voice to the voiceless are so important in a world that wants to sweep these crimes under the rug, and does not want to discuss the topic of repetitive abuse and trauma or Complex PTSD. It is also healing for me to share as much as I’m comfortable and so I’m sharing a brief summary of my story below, in poetic verse, of my own beginnings and how trauma has shaped me over my lifetime and is the impetus for the title of this Friday Edition. I find writing trauma in poetry or verse helps me give voice to complex, chaotic, and scary memories, and find the imagery created through this medium illuminates traumatic events with delicacy and grace. It has been a healing way for me to bring voice to my lost hidden inner world and reveal what (and who) created the fractured inner world in the first place. I invite you to try writing in poem or verse, if you feel called to, as a way to continue your healing process.
Where Angels Fear to Tread (2017)
She was born in a sliver of light. Just barely wanted. Just barely able to come into this world. But she didn’t know that at the time. What she knew was that there was hope and light everywhere. She was fierce and ready to roar her voice into the world, and experience what was beyond her sight. Her curiosity kept her alight and ready for adventure but she was stopped short. Her days grew dark, her reach shortened, her hope diminished.
An eggshell for a home created pitfalls and unsure footing at every turn. She was overlooked, ignored, neglected, and dismissed. So, she tried harder to be noticed. Competing with her brothers and outdoing their accomplishments and everyday farm duties she was certain this would bring her into the light to be seen. She tried ever so hard. Perfecting every single thing they did and then going above and beyond. Always looking for something unique, anything out of the ordinary to stand apart from all others because surely this was extraordinary and worthy of recognition. Still nothing. The spotlight never came to her until it did one day, and then she was sorry.
She found out that getting noticed was akin to death. Being seen was not the good thing she thought it would be and so in her confusion, she froze. Her light flickered and her mind reeled at this no-woman’s land, this sliver of space that she found herself in. Being ignored felt like death, and being noticed felt like death too. There was nowhere to go but to remain in the space in between.
Unfortunately for her, she was very rebellious, smart, and self-possessed. Where these traits came from was beyond her at the time. All she knew was that she couldn’t stop trying to find her true nature, her authentic self, and warrior voice. She wanted and needed to find out who she really was.
Walking the tight rope between invisible and silence taught her many things. Some good and some bad. She found she could do many things when nobody was looking. She found independence and confidence in her solitude and exile. There was no one to rely on except herself and the few people in her world, like her grandma, her great aunt, and friends. These helpful allies helped her see outside the narrow world that she was chained to, if only for a few moments at a time. They helped her find breath to fill her lungs and continue to breathe and open a space for her heart to beat on.
Her sliver of world, of life, became her playground. Where no others dared to come, and if they did, they didn’t stay. This lonely, small space where death stood guard at either side became her norm.
As she grew her world brought an assortment of experiences but still, consequences showed up to march her back to her narrow strip of land. Her fears overtook her. Every sound, every slight, every dark glance a blow to her mind, body, and soul. The sliver of space that she had abhorred as a child had become her solace. Her space to hide in. Safe from anyone that might ignore her or notice her.
Her ferocity and curiosity never left her. She stayed interested in many things. Taught herself, studied, and learned many subjects. She searched and searched for anything that might explain why she was kept in her small box. Always giving others the benefit of the doubt, and giving herself nothing. She had learned that she wasn’t worthy, and wasn’t important because that was the broken record given to her and played over and over and over again. She believed what they did to her. How they lied and ignored her intelligence, creativity, unending curiosity, and mystery. This stunned her deeply. She could see it but without acknowledgment or validation, it was cast like trash into the bin. When she did get noticed it was to be chastised, humiliated, objectified, hurt, abused and used as a scapegoat to assuage others’ pain. Or to be used for her beauty to offer to family friends or their boys as a toy, an object for use as their own commodity.
She was worthless except for the external endorsements of beauty, of value to those looking to purchase bodies while killing the souls. The pimps her family and own mother. She was only a girl, a future woman who could breed and keep house, stay quiet, and obedient. She was too young to flee with no one to help her. A traumatized girl in a world filled with privileged men and insecure women that enable and feed them. Still trapped in the body of the devastated girl running for her life and never trusting, never safe but always fierce and ready for battle. Trying to transmute the world of hurt and pain while her heart beats and her body breathes: a complex life boiled down to the simple state of survival.
_Sunny Lynn, OMC, HeartBalm
There is something superhuman that has to endure when overcoming Complex PTSD. You have to go over and above courage to something that only those that have endured complex trauma, survived, and faced every moment of every day understand. Because you must face it over and over again, and find the space within you, as there is no space in anyone else to hold this trauma of one – this trauma of all and continue on. If you have it in your heart to understand and heal from this “lot in life” then you have to have shields of armor and the warrior heart to keep trying.
I have spent too much time apologizing for my brokenness… but not anymore. At this stage of my life – take it or leave. It’s a part of me now, just as some beautiful features people are applauded for. But I’m no longer hiding my darkness and I take pride in my rainy days, as much as the sunny ones.
There are roads you walk and there are mountains you climb – each showing you a different path, a way to healing or redemption or peace or something that isn’t in the dark abyss where you are standing so you take it. You walk and you walk and you walk. Never knowing if this will be the last exhausting journey you have to take or the last sway of the compass arrow to follow – to find wholeness – to find the end of the haunting trauma that ceaselessly hunts and stalks you.
I am old enough now to know the score. To know what happens next and how to sit with it and let it run its course. Having given up hope a long time ago but now know that the power of my heart and the full force of the love that breathes me is all there is. It’s not fancy – it’s not miraculous or bliss – it just is. I don’t hold out for hope anymore – I just try to do the best for myself after having had to give up myself as the sacrificial lamb so long ago.
There was a time when I didn’t know I was free. It isn’t until you stand in your own space of total collapse and surrender that you realize it’s all on you now. The only one that can make you feel bad, scared, or lonely is yourself.
What’s the most important thing you’ve done this year?
There is no art to picking yourself up from the places where your knees have reached the hard ground, your tear-stained face has turned to stone and ambivalence, your insides trembling not in fear but in pure rage. There is nothing creative in this place where so many of us find ourselves – there is only courage, and courage is a sad almost useless word when you are faced with oblivion.
I see a picture of the shining faces of my nieces in front of me and I fight for their freedom, equality, and safe passage through this life. What I wouldn’t do so that they would never hurt but I know we all hurt in our own ways. I just know that they have given me a reason to hold myself strong, reticent, and evolve my humanness as I lean into my beingness knowing that as I work to become the best me I can be that they have a fighting chance to see that being free and living their best life is possible.
We all hold the keys to our freedom – to the padlocks on our own gates of hell. When and how we open them is up to each of us. How we hold the stories in our lives and speak them or keep them quiet or not is up to each of us. The only thing for certain is knowing how you want to live now – in this moment, and the next, and the next. Living with the ghosts of the past that rattle us awake in our sleep, scare us to dissociate in the light of day, and trigger us as we go to the bank or the grocery store are the norms of complex trauma. And still, we are reduced to the essentials of survival: shelter, water, fire, and food. Just navigating these is challenging enough.
There has to be something after the primitive necessities of survival and that is to continue on – to carry on – to see the faces of those that you love and to look back at your warrior heart, your ability to survive, and your highly functional, intelligent self and begin to build from there. After everything and everyone I have looked to for help, I have found little help or resources to fend off the recurring memories, wounds, and nightmares of complex trauma. I have found that the only things that have mattered are oneness and pure truth being mirrored back to me from the natural world and the love and acceptance mirrored back to me in the faces of those that I love and who love me. From that I have found a path that leads right back to myself – back to my heart – to my strength, my mind, my soul and my resilience, my nerve, and my courage. I am a woman of one but I am the voice of many.
Complex trauma cannot be fought back, erased, forced onto someone else, forgotten with drugs or alcohol, or even talked out or educated away. It can only be loved – loved into submission and surrender by allowing and accepting all parts of who we are. That means there is still work to do and we must come along for the ride and that is no easy request.
Nothing in the Universe ever grew from the outside in.
All I know is that I started small and fell back into old patterns only to find that the way of my heart and of self-love and compassion was what felt authentic and right, and so I went back for more. Finding time to merge with nature as my teacher, with mother earth as my family and guide was also instrumental in seeing the truth of oneness, of what true beingness looks like, acts like, and is. Only by sitting in that space over time did I finally get comfortable with the safety and security of the wild, and the quiet and calm of the natural world. I can say after all this time, that life with complex trauma is still wilder and scarier than any time I have spent in the deep backcountry or high mountain tops, and forests and wild spaces.
Let love lead the way forward and you will begin to see that what is inside you is what will heal you. What’s inside you is an entire Universe of healing, abundance, love, compassion, and boundless freedom. Start there and build the fire within you as big as you can make it – and let the brilliance of your blazing love guide your next step and your next. Trust in that always and forever. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have.
For parts work, and healing guided meditations please visit the HeartBalm Meditation Toolbox on the home page, and visit the HeartBalm Archives for other helpful articles, tools, and topics. To listen to this podcast please subscribe below or signup at HeartBalm.substack.com.
Sunny Lynn, OMC is a spiritual counselor, writer, poet, photographer, meditator, and nature lover on a mission of transmuting complex trauma through self-love, healing, and bringing balm to hearts everywhere. She has a blog and podcast – HeartBalm at heartbalm.substack.com that speaks on the topic of self-care and self-love, mindfulness and healing while living with CPTSD.