Wendy Woolfson

Healing From Trauma

I’ve had a lot of trauma in my past and it’s done now. It’s done. But now I’m sick.

Now, I’m healing, and that’s different work. There’s been self-reflection and inner work, studying Reiki, and deep spiritual practice. I had three and a half years of successful trauma therapy for a diagnosis of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). And I made it through even when I thought I never would. Even when I really thought, this is it, I’m done here. But I was lucky, I had kids, and they kept me going. I had a husband to love and support me.

When I was about fifteen, I was sitting with my friends in Shawlands Arcade eating our packed lunches during school lunch break, and feeding the pigeons, and we were talking about our future. We were imagining the year 2000, when we’d be thirty and what we would be doing, what would life and the world be like. At the time I couldn’t think what thirty would be like but I had a strong sense of what fifty was. I remember saying, everything will come right for me when I’m fifty, that’s when I’m going to study something different or be successful or whatever. It felt like I was making a prophecy and the feeling inside me was strong. I just knew in my heart that that was the age when my life would get good or come right. That doesn’t say much for the intervening years but we’ll get to that another time.

Well, here I am at 52 and I’d say that fifteen-year-old Wendy was right. I never forgot what I said. It was one of those things that would come up now and again in my life, and I’d remember I’d said that, and I’d have a fleeting memory of what it felt like sitting on that cold bench on a cold, grey day and, in a weird way, it would keep me going.

I was in my 40s when I hit my rock bottom, and I remembered it then, thank god, and it gave me a kind of hope. I wasn’t wrong either. It’s not that everything before that was bad, just that it was always an internal struggle. I hadn’t dealt with my demons from the past, and there were legions of them. My heart and my body felt broken and all used up. I didn’t know how to live comfortably in my own body and in this life, it was a constant struggle.

Now, here I am, facing another struggle but of a different kind and I don’t see it as traumatic, not like the things I’ve faced in the past. I see this as healing. I see this illness as the residual result of all I have been through, the physical expression of it. I will help it heal because it’s been through a lot, and it needs my care. Like a bully, fighting it will only make it stronger, so I will love it instead. I will hold it in my arms and cry and care for all it’s been through and witnessed, and I will come out the other side a renewed and different person.