When I went through some major trauma with my church, family, ex-wife, and my own sexuality, it was as if parts of my mind went numb as a subconscious defensive mechanism. I’ve been working since then to get myself back 100%, and I’ve noticed that there has been times of major awareness spurts, which revive the numb parts of my consciousness. I’ve experienced these breakthroughs when I started to go to therapy, which led to other activities that encouraged more spurts. For example, therapy gave me skills to understand myself, so I began to read more, go to the gym, started a podcast, etc. Each one has led to more breakthroughs, which allow me to learn more about myself and to reclaim a aspect of my body, creativity, personality, etc.
The latest started when I gained more confidence at work. This helped me claim some desire to create again, which led me to journaling. Keeping a journal of what I feel, eat, drink, do, etc. has given me awareness of four things in my life I knew were in shambles, but I didn’t have the energy to acknowledge yet. When I’d try to address some of these issues, it was like my brain would become foggy and disinterested, not allowing me to concentrate. Blind spots. After realizing that people don’t open up about these things often, I want to share the four things.
The first area I’ve noticed this with is my finances. Many people fear checking their banking account, and I was one of them. Making a budget seemed like a daunting task because I knew I wasn’t in the best shape with money as a single dad, and I didn’t want to put a numeric value to my “failure” because it becomes more real when there’s a number. My career ended when my faith ended. For years, I knew I wanted to be a pastor, but I realized I couldn’t be an ethical pastor when my faith ended. This handicap has left me feeling left behind and inferior to many of my peers. Recently, I’ve decided to look my future in the face and stand confident. Eye-to-eye. Strong. I’m ready to grow in my skills and grow at work.
The second area is how I see my body. This one is hard for me because body image issues are passed down in my family, not by genetics alone, but it’s in our family culture. My father was verbally abusive to my mom, and many times, I felt the responsibility to counter him. His words stung, and even though they weren’t directed at me, my empathetic instinct directed them to me. Since my trauma, I’ve gained weight on top of my dad bod. Until lately, I’ve had a hard time looking at myself shirtless. My eyes would move away involuntarily because I didn’t want to see what I’ve become. When I sat down, I’d often shield my belly with a throw pillow or a blanket. I’d hear what my dad said to my mom and how she felt about herself when I looked in a mirror, leaving me with a feeling of helplessness. Lately, I’m learning to love my body and to be mindful of what I feed it. Journaling what I eat each day has caused me to see how much I overeat compulsively. I owe much of this awareness to the new show on Showtime, SMILF, which is about a single, poor mom who also compulsively stress eats. Seeing her caused me to see myself and that I wanted to change. I searched for a podcast on the topic and learned what feelings could be triggering my overeating. This will continue to be a long journey, but I’m proud of the steps I’ve taken already.
The third area I’ve noticed my unawareness melting away is how easily I’m frustrated with my son. Single parenting isn’t easy, and I have my son only half time. Full-time single parents are heroes. It’s so easy to be annoyed by a precocious 5-year-old who never stops making noise. Too often, I find myself frustrated when he back-talks, argues, or complains. It drains me. With my new awareness, I’m learning to step back and find better ways to feel that will benefit myself and him (Half-Ass’d Free Parenting Tip: When you have to tell your young child to do something, wear headphones. So when they start to backtalk, you can point to your headphones, shrug, and leave the room).
The fourth area is my creativity. I’ve always been a writer at heart, but my mind has often prohibited me from concentrating for long periods of time. Though I haven’t settled on the exact details on my next major writing project, I’m working on sharpening my skills and the voice that’s distinctly mine, formed by my experiences and personality. Journaling has helped me explore into what’s important enough for me to invest time. It, like the other three things, are a long process, and I’m glad to be here. I’m excited to see what’s in store for me. For the first time in a long time, I’m looking to my future instead of having to spend time healing from my past.
I imagine that everyone is somewhere on a path like mine. Maybe you’re about to have a breakthrough, are having one, or are entering a time of being stagnant when a breakthrough becomes stale. Maybe you’re going through some trauma that may cause you to shut down for a while. Wherever you are, don’t give up, and do not neglect communication with yourself or others that you trust. Find whatever works for you. I hope your times of mental unawareness and fogginess are short so you can quickly pick up a mirror to see yourself for the potential and beauty that’s uniquely in you. Trauma may take you away for a time, but it doesn’t have to keep you.
Founder of The *Life After
Do you have a story you’d like to share with us or a question you’d like answered? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit our Patreon Page to see how you can help out and get exclusive content.