Healing through Historical Fiction

We all have stories.

They’re in our heads, on our phones, in movies, books, on tv, we tell them, we hear them, we make them up, they are our past, future and present.

Here’s the thing with PTSD. It turns those stories into vivid, horrors in full color. Only a story like all the others. But one that holds the power to overtake the senses and spurn unrequested cortisol that take over.

Last night, with the help of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic” PTSD flash-backs and obsessive thinking became historical fiction.

It all started with a promise. Thirty minutes a night of writing and drawing. Creating.

However, right before bedtime; a triggering email was sent and the fears began to run wild. Pulverizing my brain with what ifs and the certainty that at any moment a previous abuser would be at my bedside.

With no charger, the phone soon reached the point where numbing-out fears and seeking solace on Facebook and Instagram were no longer an option. The lonely house with it’s terrifying creaks and groans my only refuge. With shaking hands and finger hovering over the green send button and a glowing 9-1-1, the locks were checked and charger found.

Remembering the promise to write, (This being the first night of said promise) the journal came out. Writing with trembling hand, all of the fears, worries and blame were put on the page. I, he, kids, blood, rage, catastrophe, pain and tragedy.

Having put a bit of distance between thought and self, another gift from Elizabeth Gilbert came: “It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes too.”

Relax away the fear and write? Well okay. How about some historical fiction? What would happen if this white hot terror blazing through my body were actually a fictional story? Could this be the answer? Would it expel the vivid and horrific images saturating my brain?

This time the writing was fast as the vivid images flowed. The words on the page turned fear into fiction.

My story. My fear. But not mine at all.

It had transformed. It could have been anyone’s story. It was not longer personal. No longer a burden borne alone.

PTSD is personal. It is isolating. The pain is acute.

With this one act of relaxing into the fear and telling my story it became everyone’s story. I released it. All I had to do was recognize it as a story, write it and release it.

Write. Release. Heal.

Repeat.

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