A PAIN IN THE NECK

Make that a pain in my neck.  Literally.  In this ongoing, seemingly never-ending process of healing from my attack, when most everything has been dealt with and is, if not totally better, pretty dang close, the one thing that is still hanging on is the pain in my neck.  And, for the most part, it’s okay.  But not healed, and this is an issue for me.  As my soon-to-be-gone (moving out-of-state – boo hoo) acupuncturist, Matt Truhan, said a couple of weeks ago, my neck was the first thing injured and it is the last thing my body is hanging onto.  Immediately following my attack, I could not move my head at all.  I had to turn my entire body to look at something behind me.  In time, I was able to move it again.  Two or three months?  I do not remember exactly, but, eventually I was able to move my head without turning my whole body.  And because I was so focused on healing the emotional trauma, my neck was kind of forgotten about.  Or, rather, I just learned to live with the constant pain, and after a while, even though it was, and is, still there, I ceased noticing it. Kind of like the headaches I used to suffer from.  In my daily life, for the most part, I am not aware of it.  In yoga, though, I am very aware.  There are certain postures I simply am unable to do because my neck will not bend or turn.  Even when my teacher says, as we are on our stomachs, ‘turn to your favorite cheek,’ I have to keep my head straight, there is no turning to either side more than just a couple of inches.  Or when we are in a twist and he or she says to bring the head back to center, and mine has been there all along.

So, as a last-ditch effort before he and his wife move to Oregon, Matt has been concentrating on my neck.  It has helped, but I’m not sure it will be all better before he leaves.  Because I do not like massage, he never insisted on working on it before.  Oh, he put needles in it and in other points that correspond to the neck, but the pain and lack of mobility is as much muscle memory as it is real, physical pain, and that makes it much harder to deal with.  The massage, though very painful, has helped some.  This last Tuesday, though, I was exceptionally sore because I had played tennis for the first time in 6 years, and he did insist on a short, Chinese-style massage.  The reason I do not like massage is because I always feel awful afterwards, like for several days.  I agreed because he is so good at his job and I thought, maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad.  Wrong.  Not only did it hurt, I felt like crap the rest of the day on Tuesday and still felt yucky yesterday.  I even took an epsom salt bath, which I dislike almost as much as massage.  Today, I feel almost normal, whatever that is.  And when I say I feel almost normal, I mean from the ill-effects of the massage, not my neck.

The dictionary on my computer defines whiplash as:
whiplash |ˈ(h)wipˌlaSH|
noun
1 [ usu. in sing. ] the lashing action of a whip: figurative : he cringed before the icy whiplash of Curtis’s tongue.
• the flexible part of a whip or something resembling it.
2 injury caused by a severe jerk to the head, typically in a motor-vehicle accident.
verb [ with obj. ]
jerk or jolt (someone or something) suddenly, typically so as to cause injury: the force of impact had whiplashed the man’s head.
• [ no obj. ] move suddenly and forcefully, like a whip being cracked: he rammed the yacht, sending its necklace of lights whiplashing from the bridge.

In my case,  it was both a noun and a verb.  I sustained injury ’caused by a severe jerk to the head’ though mine was from being violently slammed to the pavement, and not by a car accident.  And the action of DCD in slamming me to the pavement caused the injury.  Even now I get a twinge of pain and sadness when picturing the scene that morning.  I know it could have been so much worse.  Had I not been in such great physical shape and been so angry that someone would even think of attacking me, the outcome may have been far different.  And yet 33+ months later I am still dealing with the pain that his actions caused me that September morning.  That pisses me off.  And makes me even more determined to get myself completely healed, however long it takes.

FORGIVING DOES NOT MEAN FORGETTING

Still working on forgiving – my attacker, of course, and even more importantly, myself. I know it seems strange that I would in any way need to forgive myself for something I did not do, for something I never would have wished upon my worst enemy; not that I really have any enemies, but if I did, I wouldn’t wish a sexual assault on them.

In April, right before I left for a trip to Atlanta, to visit my parents, to go to the Masters and  to Saint Simons Island to visit my friend Kim, I was on my way to the outlet mall down by the border and passed a sign for the exit for Donovan. I have never noticed this exit before on any previous trip. When I saw it, the thought that popped into my head was, “I should go and visit DCD.” (A friend wrote me to tell me that I need to stop calling my attacker ‘cockroach boy’ and start using his name. While I agree that CRB isn’t very nice, what he did to me wasn’t very nice and the best I can do right now is call him by his initials.) And then I thought, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’ I completely forgot about it until my last Hoffman gathering. Well, after doing some research, I found out that DCD is not, in fact, housed at Donovan, but at Kern Valley, which is about a 4 hour drive from here. And in order to visit a prisoner, you have to be on the approved visitor list and the person to approve me is DCD. You actually have to apply to be visitor, and even if DCD said it was okay, the prison system has to okay it, as well. I think my real reason for wanting to go visit him is to ask him WHY? I’m not sure I’d even get an answer and even if I did, it may not be one I want. I’ve thought about it a lot and come to the conclusion that going up to Kern Valley State Prison is not something I am prepared to do. A compromise may be to write him a letter. Again, I am not sure what I hope to really accomplish with this. I may end up writing him and not sending it.

At acupuncture last week, I was lamenting about how long the healing process is taking. Matt said to me, ‘You ARE through it. Right now. You are done.’ Okay, cool! Maybe it really is as easy as that. Yes, I am still dealing with some physical issues that have occurred as a result of the attack. Each day, though, I feel like I am one step closer to being completely healed. Will I ever forget about it? Doubtful, especially since I write about it. Will there always be certain things that are either very difficult or impossible for me to do? I have no idea. Only time will tell.

Whatever the case is for me, however it plays out for me in the future, forgiveness has been on my mind a lot in the last 2 1/2+ years. So as for forgiving myself, just as with DCD, I am much closer than ever to being able to say honestly that I have done it. I am not sure why I blame myself on some level, and I may never understand that. Don’t get me wrong here, I am very clear that I did nothing wrong, that the way I was dressed had nothing to do with it, that I was in the wrong place at the right time, because, to my way of thinking, if it had been the wrong time, it never would have happened. As I have said before, too, I do believe that it happened for a reason and though I did not specifically ask to be sexually assaulted, I had been asking for changes in my life. I am really okay with all of that, which is why it baffles me that I would in any way blame myself. Yet, it is still there to a degree. Clearly, I will be done when I am done. There doesn’t seem to be a way to make it go faster. It will take as long as it takes.

Because forgiveness has been so much on my mind, when the topic for the 7 March 2014 daily reading in my Science of Mind magazine, written by Joanne McFadden, was FORGIVE, this was just another validation that I am on the right path. I loved the essay so I am going to copy it in its entirety:

“After Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s plane went down in the Pacific in World War II, he and the pilot floated for forty-seven days on a life raft. They survived a strafing attack by a Japanese pilot, numerous shark attacks and a lack of food, only to be captured by the enemy. They were brutally beaten, subjected to medical experiments, starved and worked to near death as prisoners of war. One guard, nicknamed “The Bird” by prisoners was determined to break Zamperini. Maintaining humanity and dignity was a daily struggle.

Zamperini survived. However, nightmares of his ordeal kept him emotionally imprisoned for years after the war, plunging him into alcoholism and despair. At first, Zamperini was convinced that vengeance was the only way to reclaim his life, and he became obsessed with it, making plans to hunt down The Bird. Grace intervened. Under protest Zamperini attended a Billy Graham meeting. He was about to get up and leave when he remembered a bargain he made when his raft floated in a dead calm. If God would save his life, Zamperini would serve.

That recollection changed his life dramatically. Zamperini forgave The Bird and went on to create camps for troubled boys, sharing his experiences and showing them a different way of life.

When I have allowed myself to have something to forgive, I like to remember extreme examples like Zamperini’s. If he could do it, so can I.”

Exactly. If Louis Zamperini can do it after the unimaginable things he endured, then so can I.

“It’s a healing, actually, it’s a real healing…forgiveness.” ~Louis Zamperini

OLD FRIENDS

Yesterday, I visited some old friends.

After my acupuncture appointment, I drove to Ocean Beach.  A couple of weeks ago, when I was sick, and mentioned to Matt (my acupuncturist) that I would love a milk shake, because when I was little and would get sick, a milk shake always made me feel better.  I used to go to Fat Burger in Pacific Beach, but it has closed, and I had no idea where I could get a really good milk shake anymore.  Matt recommended Hodad’s in Ocean Beach.  Somehow, that day, I went instead to Pho for chicken soup, and never got my milk shake.  Yesterday, though, I decided it was time, even though I am no longer sick, to get that elusive milk shake.  Having never been to Hodad’s before, I had no idea there would be a long line to get in.  At first, I thought, ‘no way am I standing in line.’  And then I thought, ‘why not?’  Let’s just say it was SO worth it.  I got a veggie burger, which was really good.  I also got fries, and though they were good, I didn’t eat many of them because the milk shake was GIANT, and I had to do my best to drink all of it.  Of course, the shake alone could have fed a family of four!  No lie.  It probably had 9000 calories, but it was worth every single one of them.  The good news is I now know where I can get a fabulous milk shake and the better news is, Ocean Beach is a pain to get to and not on my way to anything, so I won’t be going there often.  The fact that is also a Hodad’s located in downtown San Diego doesn’t seem to matter.

So, after my yummy lunch, I went in the shops along Newport Avenue, and  I saved the best one for last – Vignettes.  The owner, Lori Chandler, was there.  She said to me, “I thought you fell off the face of the earth.  It has been so long since I’ve seen you.”  I said, “I guess you didn’t hear that I had been sexually assaulted 2 1/2 years ago.”  She had not and was shocked and dismayed.  I gave her an abridged version of what happened and what I had been doing, or not doing, for the last, probably 3 years since I was last in her shop.  Among all the things she said to me, the comment that stands out most was, “I am so glad to see that you made it through and out the other side.  You are a survivor.”

She also said that when something traumatic like this happens, your creativity gets stuck, too.  I never thought about it like that before, but she’s right.  Part of the challenge I had when I was right in the middle of the healing was my brain not functioning properly, which made working or reading a book, really most everything, so difficult.  I never even considered that my creativity was somehow ‘stuck.’  The rest of me sure was, so why wouldn’t that aspect also be affected?  Looking back now, I can so clearly see that this was the case.  It’s why blogging was impossible to do.   Even now, though I am working and able to (mostly) think again, I am not engaging in, really, any of the other creative pursuits I used to involve myself in.  Well, except I am doing a post every week on A Little of This That and the Other.  Pre-attack, I used to do a lot of photography and a lot of altering of that photography in Photoshop.  I can’t even remember the last time I did that.  I used to come up with ideas of things to make and then make them, like my tulle dolls or lamp shades or collages.  Wow!  Just thinking about it now is making me remember all of things I no longer do.  Is this just a ‘side effect’ of my attack?  Will the love of creating things, not related to my sewing, eventually come back?  Very interesting…

Since I am thinking about it in ways that I haven’t, perhaps this will jump-start my creative mind again.  I used to get so many ideas of things to do and things to make that all I could do was write them in my idea notebook, because I didn’t have enough time to try them all.  Either I haven’t been open to receiving new ideas or that pipeline has been shut off since September 2011.  I’m going to go with the pipeline being shut off.  And unless my brain damage was more extensive than I realized, I have every confidence that the flow will come back one of these days.  Soon, I hope.  I miss all the ideas, and being in Vignettes yesterday reminded me of that.

 

So, thank you, Lori, for your insights.  It was wonderful seeing you, and I promise it will not be another 3 years before I come see you again.

THE HEALING CONTINUES

Okay, I know I said that my next post (which would be this one) would be about what happened after I walked out of the court room from cockroach boy’s sentencing to 6 years in prison.  I changed my mind.  Because I did not actually write about my experience and what happened and how I felt that day, I am going to have to write it from what I remember and that is a bit trickier.  So before I sit down and write that, there is another experience I need to deal with.  As I’ve said many times before, the recounting of my attack and all that followed is coming straight, for the most part, from my journal, from what I wrote at the time that it occurred.  And as I am, again, for the most part, doing it chronologically, I am only up to 25 June 2012.  I apologize if this is confusing, but I need to make clear that what I am now going to write about is current, is right now or just a few months in the past.  Have I thoroughly confused you yet?  Perfect..

On Friday, two days ago, I had what will be the first of a series of acupuncture treatments for my foot.  To explain the why for this, I need to go back to January of this year.   The easiest way to explain what happened then is to tell you what I told a cousin of mine:  “I am so glad to hear that I am making your journey just the tiniest bit easier. And it is a journey, with many twists and turns and potholes and setbacks and, best of all, forward motion. I hope you are getting therapy, as well. I know I would not be where I am right now had I not gotten it. And even having had it, there are days that I still question it all. For the most part, though, it’s all good. My boyfriend, who was so supportive and loving and encouraging through the whole 15 months, has decided that it was all too much and broke up with me on Wednesday. I am so grateful that he stayed when I needed him most and know that this is more about him than about me.  Still, I am sad and heartbroken, but I WILL get through this, too.”  Okay, so now you know that I am not no longer with Bill.  It took me just a couple of weeks to realize that he had actually made the right decision.  That realization didn’t necessarily make it easier to deal with the loss, but it did help somewhat.  One of the things I asked him was, ‘Do you think this is a delayed reaction to my attack?’  He said something along the lines of ‘maybe, probably, I don’t know.  All I do know is that you are different since the attack.’  At first this made me mad, until I really thought about it.  The truth is I Am Different, profoundly and fundamentally different, and how could I not be?  I went through an incredibly traumatic experience followed by 13 months of intense therapy that not only dealt with my most recent trauma, but also cleared out all the crap from my childhood that was still festering inside me.  How could I not be different?  In spite of this knowledge, I was still very, very sad.  I woke up every morning crying, I wasn’t sleeping very well at all and as if all that wasn’t enough, my hot flashes came on with a vengeance.

About 3 weeks after the breakup, I had the opportunity to go to Cat Island, Bahamas for 10 days with my parents, brother and nephew.  You better believe I went.  While there I swam, did stand-up paddling, went kayaking and walked 10-12 each day, on the beach, barefooted.  And that is when the pain in my foot started.  I, of course, ignored it, chalking it up to being barefoot more than anything else.  When I got back from my trip it continued to hurt and I continued to walk and do yoga through the pain.  One morning I went out to walk, went a half a block and had to turn around.  It was obvious that I would ignore it no longer.  I initially decided it was a stress fracture, because that was the only thing that made sense.  When I finally went to a physical therapist, he diagnosed it as a neuroma.  Basically, I had nerve damage in my foot and the cause, he said, was overuse.  Well, crap!  So he gave me exercises to do and told me to not stop working out, but to go very easy.  I decided that complete rest was probably a good thing, and stopped walking and doing yoga, altogether.   It has now been 6 weeks of non-activity for the most part.  Let me tell you, for someone who is used to moving a lot, this is pure torture and, delightfully enough, I have gained 5 pounds.   Okay, not delightful at all!  That weight gain probably has nothing to do with the fact that I have been drinking more than normal, as well.

Enter Bill, my now ex-boyfriend.  Yes, we are still friends.  He asked about my foot and I told him it wasn’t getting better and did he have any suggestions for hurrying the process along?  He recommended his client Matthew Truhan, who is a licensed acupuncturist.  So, I emailed him and we set up an appointment for 17 May.  And the best part is he comes to my house so I don’t have to drive wherever it is he lives.  Anyway, in the process of taking my medical history, etc., he asked if I had suffered any trauma lately.  Kind of a loaded question in my case.  So I told him briefly of my attack and also that Bill had broken up with me in January.  Well, his take is that the pain in my foot is actually how my body manifested the breakup!  Okay, that makes perfect sense to me, and now I am doing what needs to be done to heal that damage and pain.  And isn’t it interesting that I am doing the exact same thing with the pain I felt in my heart?

What I find so interesting, as well, is the far-reaching consequences that my attack has had, and continues to have on my life.  It’s certainly not all bad, and I have almost daily reminders and incidences happen that let me know that my PTSD is completely healed, which is good.  So now when I think about how it upset me when Bill said I had changed, I can almost laugh about it, because, of course I changed.  I am certain, too, that I will continue to heal other parts of my life that I may not even be aware of right now.  And one thing I do know, beyond any doubt, is the best is yet to come, that it is on its way right now.  I just have to keep my heart and mind wide open.