living life in connection
Today, I was reminded of what gave me life in this healing journey that I have been on for years now.
Today I had one of those moments of realization called “an epiphany”, that hit me; even though I knew it was there, but didn’t take the time to really sit and reflect on it.
Today I realized just how far I have come in connection, and how easier each day it is to accept not only being connected to others, but to myself.
If you were to tell me 5 years ago that I would be sitting here today writing a blog about my healing, opening myself up to personal and physical connection with others, I would probably turn around and run straight to my closet in fear!
5 years ago, I wouldn’t even let people come near me except those I had to get to know at a very very slow pace.
5 years ago I would have never opened myself up to talk freely and open as I do today about the abuse; I would have never reached out for support when I needed it like I do today.
The journey of connection began when I first started therapy, that was my first connect the dot!
I started out sitting in the chair the furthest away from my therapist – learning about connection – learning about support at a very slow pace. I pretty much had my butt in the chair, but my foot was almost out the door!
As time went by, My therapist started to pull his chair closer and closer over to mine, a little closer each session.
Time went by, I started to slowly let other people in my life. I slowly started to peek out from behind the walls that I had stacked so high. The only person I could get nearly close to was my husband and kids, but even then, I still numbed myself to certain points.
Time went by and my therapist got close enough to my chair to tap my foot with his foot with a smile to remind me that he is safe. I started to trust it more, while talking slowly about my past.
As I trusted it more, I started trusting people on the outside more. I would get together with a friend for a little while, but then I was quiet again for days, just giving it little by little, wanting to be by myself, and only be with my kids and husband.
Time went by, and my therapist then pulled the chair up very close, put his hand out on the table between our chairs, and told me to hold his hand for 2 minutes. I was stiff as a board with my heart racing, but slowly I got what connection was without being numb.
Time went by, and I could hold the hand longer than the last time, but this time putting words to the connection – and then I would pull back because it was enough for the day.
Time went by, and I was able to hold both hands, and talk about hard things at the same time, not pulling away, but learning to be in connection.
Time went by, and when having a few emotional hard moments in session, he would ask me to come sit side by side in connection with him on the couch. I trusted, so I did, and then retreated back to my chair when it was enough.
Time went by and I started to reach out more to friends. I started to become involved more with the church I was going to at the time. My time with friends was a little longer; I was starting to lean in and connect more with people.
I became close with my now best friend Tracy. Even my relationship with her was slow, but as time went by, I got closer and closer to her, allowing myself to connect with her when I needed it.
Time went by, and before I knew it, my sessions were me, sitting side by side on the couch with my therapist, in full trust and connection, no fear, no walls, total trust – being able to open up a little more each time, than I did the time before.
Time has gone by, and now, 5 years later, I am fully connected.
I am connected, I am writing, I have wonderful friends, I have a church community that I love, I sit safely side by side in therapy with no fear, connection to connection, trust to trust, with no walls, nor fear!
Sometimes I now reach out for the hand; sometimes I now tap the foot! I am connected, and for the first time in my life I TRUST IT!
I am writing about this today, because today I was reminded of where I was, and where I am now.
Today I had an epiphany! I realized today that 5 years ago, I had NO connection besides the connection I was numb to! I had tears today when I realized how far I have come, and how grateful I am that I learned what connection is.
I never knew what connection was as a child, a teen, or even an adult up until now.
My whole life up until I met my husband, I had no idea what it was like to be in connection with other people. I lived my life alone. I was in the closet alone. I took care of myself alone. Even as a teenager I did everything alone. I had no friends. I was afraid of people and connection.
When I was a teenager, I would stay up all night writing to PEN PALS by hand. My only safety was reaching out to people I didn’t know by writing, there was no harm in that, I didn’t need to really connect. There were no expectations except a stamp and an envelope and my thoughts.
I was the girl inside the house while everyone was outside playing. I had ballet and I had myself, and that is all I had.
I had no idea what a hug was, what a hand was, what friends were, what trust was. I lived my life inside being numb. People who did touch me, I had to numb myself. When people did hug me, it was an action, not a feeling.
When I met my husband Tim, it took me a long long time to get close to him. When we made love for the first time, I was numb! I didn’t’ feel a thing! but I knew I loved him, I just didn’t know how to connect.
I had 3 children, but I was numb! I knew I wanted children, but I also knew how to numb myself to get pregnant! It’s not that I didn’t love my husband, I DO very much; I just did not know how to FEEL without being numb.
I never knew what a hug felt like without being NUMB. I felt my husbands hug, but I didn’t know how to feel it FULLY. I knew how to hug my kids and love them, but I Didn’t know how to feel it for ME.
Loving others was easy, feeling it and accepting it for me was a whole different story.
I remember in therapy giving my therapist a quick side hug goodbye after each session. I did the action, had no idea what the feeling was. Today I can give big meaningful hugs to everyone around me. I can give my therapist a hug and say “thank you” and express my gratitude.
I can sit with Tracy and lean my head on her shoulder, and it be OK! Today I can walk into church and greet people without wanting to hide in the bathroom until the crowd is gone.
Today I walk into therapy and plop myself down on the couch aside my therapist as if I never had a problem with connection. I feel I have my own space in this world inside the connection.
Connection is a huge part of my healing. I cannot work without connection. If I feel slightly disconnected, I feel misplaced! I know what that old feeling felt like, and it wasn’t good. Today I love being in connection.
Being in connection today gives me strength to work towards my healing. I cannot talk about my timeline or work with the past without connection. I wonder how I lived so long without it?
I am not only connected to others around me, but I am finally connected to myself. I understand my feelings more today.
I also know how it feels to “want” connection; which is something I never wanted before. I actually look for connection now; to help give me strength to go forward in my healing.
I am truly blessed for connection, and I am so glad that God has given me the trust to accept it, and the wonderful people to give it.
I had an epiphany today – I realized where I was, and where I am today in connection.
March 12, 2012 at 9:34 PM
March 12, 2012 at 9:38 PM
Thank you Stacy! it’s funny because one of the people I was thinking of from church, were you and your husband.. and how I have grown to know you, because of connection! I am thankful that I learned what connection was, and that I no longer having to be in isolation!
March 12, 2012 at 10:17 PM
What a beautiful story. I love it, and I love that you’ve found your way, so gently, to connection.
March 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM
…. thank you for that nice comment, I had the story written in my head all day! Sometimes when we are “in” things, it’s hard to see where we came from. I love the analogy about the island. if you are on a big island and have lived there your whole life, you dont see where you are unless you move away from it and see it from afar! Today I really realized “wait, connection is around me, my whole life I never had it” .. it made me really grateful even in the hard moments through my day today. – thank you 🙂
March 13, 2012 at 6:49 AM
Karen.. connection IS a hug part of healing. You are right! I am so glad you found that connection. I love the story about your therapist moving closer and closer each session.. that is a movement of trust, I love it!
you bring such clarity to your stories. I laugh a little at some of your words, I have a tear sometimes. You are a great writer Karen, thank you for sharing this story.
March 13, 2012 at 9:40 PM
HANNA!! sorry it took me a while to respond.. I have been so busy this week!
Thank you for your comment.. they are always so nice 🙂 I appreciate it very much
May 1, 2016 at 7:35 PM
I know this is an old post, but I just read it (and read it again). So you can actually *feel* a hug? I find that strange, terrifying, but also a little hopeful. I get the numb thing. I’ve got that down. But feelings, not so much. Hugs are awful. I long for them, but I can’t figure out what good they do. I brace myself for them, even when they are from my husband and kids. They almost physically hurt. Even when I ask for a hug and it’s on my terms, it’s stiff and weird. I had never considered a hug could be actually felt before reading this. There is really more than the physical act of putting arms around someone? Maybe the thing I long for is the feeling part. I didn’t know you could feel a hug. If you can feel a hug now, maybe one day I can.