#MeToo- How Art & Poetry are healthy coping mechanisms for PTSD

#METOO

For those of you that aren't sure about the campaign that has exploded over the internet this week. Let me just talk about it for a moment. The "Me Too" campaign is a movement started by Alyssa Milano, who is trying to bring light to all the sexual assault and harassment that women have had to endure for not just the time I am alive, but for CENTURIES.

 

The Truth of the Matter is Sexual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical Assault is my scar.

It's the biggest one I carry on my soul. I have been working on healing myself through art, poetry, alternative therapy, cognitive therapy, having spiritual advisers, meditation, and I have even went down the dark dreary hole of trying to heal it with alcohol. It's not a pretty scar for me.

In my youth, I was trapped in a relationship where he made everything but himself seem unsafe. He harassed me over the phone, through text messages, through friends.. He would drive up to near the end of whatever street I was at and park there. He would tell me the people I was having a good time with were out to get me. He would tell me my family was out to get me. I remember a time when I got in trouble for not paying attention to my grades, so my parents grounded me from seeing him and he came over to "help me with my homework" and tried to get me to leave and move in with him.

I didn't feel safe. Then it came to a time that I moved in with him. I had true love mixed up with horrific fear and mind control. I picked up alcohol as a habit. I was in public places all the time surrounded by friends because I only felt safe there. I remember one night, I came home to do my homework and because I didn't want to have sex, he grabbed me by my hair and dragged me down three flights of stairs. I still didn't even leave after that.

Finally, at one point, our relationship ended. He started cheating on me with other women and he wanted to take the chance with new ones. I wasn't free from his hold though. I still got harassed everyday with missed calls, emails, text messages, and etc.

I found myself sending out cries for help. I would post subliminal poems on Facebook or in a journal. I couldn't even look my mother in the eye. I was so upset at myself for allowing all this to happen.

The only thing that kept me sane through all of it was poetry.

Then I got sexually assaulted two more times by other strangers. At parties, where I thought I was surrounded by friends. I was having an enjoyable time chatting in deep philosophical conversation with some friends of mine. Then it happened and I ended up leaving the party distraught. Helpless. Again?

This led me down a path of having serious PTSD. I would spend days crawled up on a couch if I wasn't at work going through each and every scenario over and over and over again in my head trying to figure out what about me could of made the scenario different. If someone asked me to go into a neighborhood where my abuser lived, I would say no. I carried a knife in my purse and car. I puffed out my chest at anyone that thought me weak. I got triggered every time a man said "You are pretty."

I went through all the scenarios of having panic attacks. avoiding my family. hiding my scars. Thinking to myself constantly, Why was I the victim of this violence? Why couldn't I leave and why couldn't I say no?

I felt weak. afraid. unsure of myself. and hopeless.

So what helped? What Saved Me?

  1. I found Yoga. God did that save me from some of the PTSD. I would go into one vinyasa after another. Every time any of my abusers faces would show up in my mind, I would go and exercise.

I found Dancing. I would dance for hours. Working out any and all of my issues with emotional constraints. My chest felt free. None of it weighed me down anymore.

But that is what people with PTSD need. To restart their nervous system. Awaken the body and ground themselves into their present life. 

2. I wrote poetry. So much poetry. I would journal every single emotional upheaval. I find that poetry does heal us. It might be written about a situation that is emotional and maybe not everyone will feel the way that I felt, but it connected me to something. It connected me to my senses. The good ones. The ones that made me feel more alive than I have ever felt before. I could write out those feelings, truths, and understandings without anyone saying "How dare you tell that story."

3. I painted. I am very sensitive to energy. I find myself in a room seeing and feeling all the things that aren't being said. It's hard sometimes to even get a hold of reality because I am seeing all the interactions happening. But when I paint, I can feel myself again. I wake up from the dream I am having. The horrific one & I get out all the angst. I am focused on a something larger than myself and I am safe there. NO man is going to come into my paint space and take what I have.

4. A healthy diet. It is SO important when Trauma has happened to remove yourself from anything that might have otherwise made it feel worse. Have you ever eaten a bag of chips and felt like shit the next day? Well that is how PTSD feels without the chips. You need to feed your soul. Eat those things that make you feel good. Give you energy and awaken & ground you into who you are as a person. I LOVE JUICE just for that reason. You can catch me drinking a Green Juice and smiling. Not because I am following some bullshit health trend, but because I am healing my insides to heal my soul. To heal my heart.

CREATIVE THERAPY CURED ME

I'm not saying I'm cured. I still deal with a lot of PTSD. Let's be honest. All these #METOO posts triggered me this week. I went down a path of crazy panic and needed release. I wrote 2 different FB statuses and then made them private or deleted them. I saged the whole house and I journaled and wrote poetry. I cried for a while and looked up booking an appointment with a therapist. I haven't felt that kind of panic in years.

But you know what? Art Therapy is the psychic integration of having a dialogue with your trauma. I know this because I did it. The Conscious and Unconscious mental activity, mind-body connectedness, and the use of mental & visual imagery allowed my cerebral cortex/nervous system to calm down. It illuminated what I needed to heal. It begins to change the stored images into new images.

I know that creating through art- whether it is poetry, music, or some other creative format will make trauma less powerful. And I find it to be less threatening than any verbal therapy. Sometimes we DONT want to talk about our traumas. Sometimes it triggers us to become worse.

So I urge you, if you have went through some sort of trauma to try out some poetry prompts ( I have some going on in my FB group  now) or pick up a journal, dancing, music, or some sort of creative activity. You'll feel that healer inside ignite. & you will feel so much better. Trust me.

 

Art Is the Safe Space.

 

Love you.

Wildly,

Mel