Ross Griff CC
After Surviving Trauma…What Remains?
There is a heartbeat vibration on my thumb – tock tock tock. In my ear, a soothing rhythm accompanies my breathe. My brain is retraining itself. I am learning to be present. My safe place has been recreated many times in my mind, first as a retreat, and then as a recharging station. It is my cactus garden and, as the seasons pass, these plants, with their slow-growing needles, their thick skin and their occasional flower are concrete reminders that I too have the unwavering ability to survive.
An accidental glance at the scattered scars on my body can draw me backwards for a moment – but I now practice meditation daily. I am learning to note the thoughts and feelings so that I can dismiss them as soon as they occur. Traumatic aftershocks still exist, but they are no longer my identity.
I fight hard to stay present for my children, and keep them safe as they play without me forgetting myself. I no longer blank for hours and come to on the other side of town, unaware of how or why I am there. I can be fully embodied during sex with my soul mate, not just a floating balloon head stranded high above my body. It has taken three decades, but I am strong enough at last to stay here now. I am strong enough to share my perspective and attempt to help others.
I will always be cautious with my children around babysitters and doctors, in water parks and summer camps. I will always believe them when they tell me that an adult made them feel strange, uncomfortable, afraid. I will always fight for and defend their bodies and their spirits.
Still, there are nights when the wind plays tricks on me. A lighting flash shadow induces goosebumps, and that strong hand is once more around my neck, a man on my back, white powder mounded at the end of a key. But the memories’ power is beginning to dissipate.
I am no longer a scared and helpless child, but a mother reassuring our children – oh that shadow is just a big lonely dragon. Shall we wave at him through the window? It’s just a storm, my loves, it will pass. This house, your parents, our love. We are
Maggie Rawling Smith is a mother, a writer, a filmmaker and an activist who hopes to leave this world just a bit better off than she found it. She and husband Brian co-adapted his collection of short stories into the Amazon Prime series Spent Saints, as well as co-adapting the festival-winning documentary Tucson Salvage, which she also directed. She is the author of Delilah M Pennymaker, a forthcoming young adult novel and is an advocate for the LGTBQ + community.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.