Notes on Courage
Inner work for outer action.
Over the past couple of weeks I've gotten a new kind of exposure. It's the kind of exposure that makes my chest tighten and heart race. Yes, 4.4 million people watched my story unfold on the new ABC series, In An Instant, but the kind of exposure I'm talking about is the re-enactment of my lived experience which up until now has only been replayed in my mind.
I've listened to most of the episode and watched parts. Just like all the other exposure therapy I've done over the years, I know that this too will be a gradual, but important process.
The process. That's the piece the show skipped over. One minute I'm physically and emotionally traumatized and the next I'm walking in to my nonprofit, laughing and on the path to healing others. I'm glad they told the story of the collapse, the reason I keep telling it is that there is still a crisis at hand. It's a story that needs to be told and re-told until something changes, but from my perspective, the most important part of my story isn't the collapse, but the path I took to heal.
Water was this everyday thing that had become my enemy. Exposure started by looking at pictures of tranquil seas, then listening to babbling brooks and soft waterfalls. Eventually we took a trip to the site of the collapse so I could smell the river and then, eventually, I worked my way into a pool. See it, hear it, smell it, feel it.
(Lucky for the water, I had already gotten used to tasting it so I didn't die of dehydration.)
All these interactions with pleasant water experiences helped me find a new relationship with water. I no longer gasp for air in the shower, but it's still been 7 years, 7 months and 21 days since my head and body have been fully submerged in water. I don't curse the river quite so often anymore, but I did have my first panic attack (5+ years later) when the boat sank during Life of Pi. The thing about healing is that it's a process - it doesn't end, it just changes.
Watching the Rush Hour Disaster episode is just another form of exposure therapy. First I listen and watch a little. Then, eventually, I'll watch the whole thing (with my eyes open, the whole time.)
Mary P. Holtorf
3/23/2015 01:36:32 am
I saw the special on TV and I had thoughts going over the bridge the other day of what if and I wasn't even on the bridge that day. Reading your post I completely understand your pain and I admire how you are trying to work through it. Many people are not that brave they sweep it under the rug. I have been watching a show on OWN with Jonas Elrod and it talks about moving through tough situations. You would be perfect for this show to help people understand the process. He doesn't wrap it up in a neat little package. He is interested in the soul and what happens after a tragic event. Thanks for sharing your story.
1/7/2021 11:06:22 am
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About the blog:
This space holds thoughts and ideas generated from my personal journey of healing and recovery from trauma, co-dependency, and white supremacy culture. Opinions are entirely my own.