As the pain, the rage, the depression, and the intrusive thoughts slowly subside and I come gasping into the present time, feeling like I am waking up from a horrible nightmare.
The deep pain has lifted and I’m more and more able to live in the present without my past waylaying me. However, I feel a deep sadness, a hollow pain of the loss of my PHANTOM Life. That yearning for what could have been to what is.
Growing up in a toxic home changes the trajectory of our lives
Grieving For My Phantom Life
I know I did my best to survive, the abuse, alone and confused. Running, escaping, hiding, pretending, grasping at any straw I could grapple at.
However, shaking that feeling that maybe, life could have been better had the people in my life behaved more decently and kindly. The abuse bored within me an abyss of inadequacy, helplessness, and codependency. The trajectory of my life changed from confidence to struggle.
And as I emerge from the confusing, dark cave of trauma. As I breathe the present air of healing and piece together the fragments of my wounded psyche, I continue to ache for my PHANTOM Life.
Scoliosis My Defensive Armour
It feels like waking up from a long slumber, one was put into by a wicked and jealous sorceress. Mine literally was my mother’s sister, who by her jealousy-filled false accusation sent me spiraling into a terror-filled dungeon of confused sexuality.
I had to remain a little girl or that big, lustful Uncle would trap me into a depraved life.
I had to remain small or I would be branded the seductress.
Having a woman’s body was potentially dangerous.
I had to hide my growing breasts. I remember my maternal grandmother looking at me with anger, telling me ‘why do you have to wear tight clothes’. And I was struck dumb at her insensitivity, who would stitch me new clothes. My mother was dead and my father would not give me money for new clothes that I needed for my growing body.
The fear of anyone, being interested in me, led to confusion about how to react sexually.
Like obesity is the refuge of sexual abuse victims, for me, scoliosis became my armor. By becoming deformed I ensured my safety.
However, it also ensured I could never have the life I dreamt of.
Dreams For Myself
As a child, I had dreamt of wearing a white wedding gown for my wedding. I never got married.
And dreamt of being a confident, successful career woman. I am still struggling to feel grown-up.
My dream of having 2 kids and being the best mother. I have one kid and zombied my way through motherhood.
So many many dreams, and all came to naught because I was stuck in a shitload of trauma and all I could do was gasp for air and survive.
Lindsey Roy, in her inspiring TED Talk, calls PHANTOM Life the nagging dissonance of what was and what should be, and what is. Her freak accident sent her on a one-way journey to find a cure for Phantom Life.
How to give up attachment not only to a limb but to a fixed way of thinking about loss and change, about the way things should be.
Her 4 lessons about changing one’s perspective:
1) Practice thinking positive thoughts to change your brain’s negativity bias.
For me listening to guided meditation, and saying Psalms 23, 70, and 91 really raise my mental state from negative to positive.
2) Anchor your perspectives – Seek out Snapchat Moments – What is the hidden advantage?
Acknowledging that there are some people who are worse off and being grateful for what is. For me seeing Nick Vujicic’s videos helps me shift my perspectives.
Being emotionally stuck at 13 years kept me looking younger, which has been a huge advantage.
My son puts things in perspective, that if I had had my Phantom Life I would never have moved so much, and he would have to go to just one boring school. Because I was kicked out of my job and had to move to the next residential school and then to the next and the next, my son experienced so many adventures and he loved it.
3) The idea of Reattachment
Learning to detach from my family and let go of my old life. I am beginning to accept that maybe that was not the life God had planned for me. The line from Kung Fu Panda, ‘One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” is my reminder perspective.
I am training myself to reattach a new way of thinking and dream of a different life, one that could be full of more possibilities than I could have imagined. For one, I never dreamt of having a blog or learning so much about the mind and child development.
4) Willing yourself to a new perspective
By forcing oneself to flip one’s thinking one can create a chemical reaction in the brain Actively forcing a new perspective upon yourself is the cheapest and easiest way to change how you feel about your situation. Sure, it takes lots of persistence and practice to think differently. To see things from the perspective of experience and knowledge.
It takes effort but you can rewire your brain through this kind of perspective training. Practicing perspective training could better prepare you to handle any kind of challenge or struggle. It helps to reframe your problems and wires those pathways for the bigger problems to come.
Letting go of my PHANTOM Life has not been easy. However, as the days unfold, I realize that it is up to me to take control and dream new dreams, Maybe they may come true or maybe they will not. However, this time I will be actively working to make them a reality.
I am in control, I will not give up.
Image Source: Pixabay
No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model –
This a very powerful, encouraging post that I think will resonate with and help a lot of people – well done.
Thank you, Kerry, personally, it has been a real big block getting over my sadness over what could have been my life. Well, now that I am nearly over that I cannot but help appreciate the learning and wisdom gained from my experiences. God has his reasons.
You have a really interesting lifestyle and your blog is quite informative. Wow, I can only dream of living your kind of life.