I am not a psychologist. It seems prudent to remind us of that fact because I hear myself talking as if I were. These are just my opinions.
Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.
Dr. Hart coaches us to remember our pre-trauma selves, to get back to those things that amused us, entertained us, attracted us, and made our lives meaningful and enjoyable. In other words, things we loved.
Good advice, Dr. Hart, but very difficult to do. It seems much easier to remember the trauma than the days before.
Who was I before Vietnam? Even that question is difficult to ask—and even more difficult to answer.
Am I not the person I was? No, but that admission is a big step, perhaps the greatest leap of all. I do not remember, of conscious mind, being any different.
Subconsciously, I do. If I can put myself back into situations I enjoyed with people, places, and things I loved before, I may remember at a feeling level.
Hay barns help, the smell of dried alfalfa and grasses. It takes me back to my youth.
Wrestling helps, being on the mat, coaching. Just being around schools helps. For me, school was a safe and enjoyable place. So, I went back and stayed.
Nothing takes me back to the pre-trauma world like Nature, whether it be hunting, gardening, or just walking in the woods. I accept that this is a feeling memory from the happier me. I know that the smell of tilled earth, wet wood, fallen leaves, or apples from the tree evoke the subconscious memories. But, I believe there is more.
I love the woods. For a reason I do not understand, I feel right, there—at home. I love the sights, sounds, smells, movements, and wholeness of field and forest. I know I belong.
In the woods, I am small but significant. I am one part of a big thing, equal to the tree, deer, squirrel, inchworm, and mosquito. I belong because I am part of it, because I accept it as bigger than me, because…I have been invited. Yes, I feel invited.
I love the woods, but even more importantly, I believe the woods loves me. Without prejudice or judgment of any kind.
In the forest I feel small yet bigger than anywhere else. I hope that makes sense to you. It feels right to me.
Perhaps you see a pitfall, here. People with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms who do not have a pre-trauma place that invites them may have more difficulty finding equilibrium. Well, people without hay barns, gardens, or forests of youth may have trouble reaching their equilibrium even without trauma. I grieve for people who do not feel invited into the woods.
It is not too late. I believe that. I (the not psychologist guy) believe that Nature is here to love all of us whether we meet before or after trauma. Find a teacher, a guide, and go home to Nature. It is in your DNA.
Mother Earth loves every one of us. Isn’t it time you accepted and returned that love?