April 1st 1985.
It was the first Monday of Holy Week. Little was I to know it would become the moment my life descended into hell.
I still remember. I remember the lights of the ambulance lighting up my bedroom window. I remember creeping downstairs in a hallway lit up mainly by outside lights, seeing the ambulance outside. And I remember walking into our front lounge, seeing my mum, sitting in the chair.
Eyes looking downwards, not moving.
She was completely still. Her body paralysed by a severe asthma attack.
As I looked at her, it was like time stood still. I was only 8 years old. I had no idea what was happening. It was just me and her, frozen in a moment in time. Nothing else existing, but us.
Then suddenly, chaos.
My dad burst into the room with the ambulance people. Before I knew it, my mum was on a stretcher being taken into the ambulance. A babysitter arrived and my dad drove behind the ambulance to the hospital. It was the last time I saw my mum for a month. And the next time I saw her, she would be very different.
It all happened so fast I barely could register it. I was probably in shock. A shy, sensitive, sheltered 8 year old, seeing such raw suffering right in front of me. I still have no idea what that did to me.
But I do know that was the night that everything changed. Everything that happened since pivoted on that moment.
Now, 33 years later, April 1st , the day I wrote this post, was resurrection Sunday. It’s come full circle. What began on the first day of Holy Week, had led me here, 33 years on, on resurrection Sunday – the end of Holy week. The sun is rising on a new day, on a new season.
It’s time to tell my story. My whole life, whilst many people know some of the story of my childhood trauma, I’ve never told the story.
So instead, the story has told me. Because that’s what happens when we don’t share our stories. As my friend Laura says, if we don’t share our stories, we’ll tell our stories one way or another.
I’ve told my story in overeating, in anger, in bitterness, and habits I’m ashamed of.
The story of a child whose voice was never heard. A child who was neglected. A child who learned to trust no one and not let anyone get too close. A child who blamed himself for the destruction of his parents marriage, and for not saving his mother from death.
A child living inside a man’s body, slowly trying to kill him.
Because he felt he deserved it. Because he felt worthless, a failure.
My inner child believed the story I was worthless, unimportant, a failure, a loser, not worth respect, not worth listening to, and who deserved nothing good. That’s the story I told with my life for so long.
And even though I’ve forgiven, and got healing and transformation for past trauma, the stories, the neuro pathways forged by those bad stories, are still there.
I’m only at the beginning or rewriting those stories, rewiring my brain. It’s hard work. It will take time. Because it’s not about convincing or rewiring my conscious self. It’s about rewiring the silent, subconscious parts of my brain. Changing the stories deep down, changing my instincts, changing habits, the automatic habits we all have when we’re tired – which is where we find the truth.
This is part of my healing. Research has shown writing to be a big factor in our transformation, healing, and telling better stories. So I am going to write my story. Some of it I’ll share, some of it I may not.
I tell this story for myself. And I share it, in the hope that maybe, it might give hope and solidarity to someone else.
I’m not being quiet anymore. Today is the beginning of my own resurrection.
And resurrection begins with darkness, death, trauma and suffering. And we go through that cycle again, and again. Death, then despair, then new life, new hope…the joy. This is the cycle of growth. The engine room of life.
The sun of resurrection has just appeared on the horizon. It may take time for it to rise fully. And in those moments, I’ll still be working things through. Maybe I’ll always be working things through, even when resurrection has done it’s work.
But this story is going to be told.
On my terms.
(Picture Source: Ed Dunens via Creative Commons)