At Christmas, I was out of town spending time with family. When I returned home, I discovered a rodent had taken up residence in my apartment. Granted, I live over the garage of a log cabin on a wooded farm. Rodents happen. I get that. But now I had a rodent claiming squatter’s rights. It took about a week to reclaim my turf.
I am grateful for this encounter because it helped me see where I am on the path to trauma healing. Even though it took a few days to find my footing in this rodent encounter, I have certainly come a long way since I started trauma healing. I was unsettled, yes. At night, even fearful. (That’s something I’m working on.) But I wasn’t emotionally and physically shut down as in the past. And it only took two nights of fear before I rallied against the rodent and got my life back. Ironically, it was a previous rodent encounter that sent me into that season of trauma healing. I love it when God allows tangible moments when we can see our progress.
Eight years ago, before I moved to this farm, I had a cat. She was living at a friend’s house because I lived in a place that didn’t allow pets. So my friend took her in. On my way home from work each day, I stopped to visit my friend and play with my cat.
After a while, my friend became sick with cancer and moved in with her mom to get daily care. My cat had the house to herself. (Note: I had never lived in my own house, but my cat had a house of her own! As it should be.)
One day I was sitting on the couch with my cat in that otherwise empty house. I became aware that the door between the living room and garage had just opened. A squirrel came into the living room.
My cat was not fazed, as if this were a common occurrence. I freaked out. Not a normal “There’s a squirrel in the living room” freak out. My reaction was more like “Someone just threw an explosive device through the window and they will shoot me as soon as I run outside.”
In tears and terror, I chased the squirrel back to the garage and opened the outer door. Instead of leaving, the squirrel ran into the farm supply room, climbed up on a shelf, and put its tail over its head, as if to hide. I picked up a handful of hay and threw it at the squirrel, who then chattered at me. The whole thing should have been comical, but I was sobbing, and every muscle in my body was shaking.
“I … can’t … take … any … more …” I kept shouting to God.
I was beyond overwhelmed. Everything in me was shutting down.
My reaction was not really about the squirrel. It was decades of unhealed trauma that had consumed me. The squirrel in the house was the proverbial last straw. It magnified all the other trauma that was stored away. I literally couldn’t handle one more thing.
I finally left the house, and from the comfort of my own home, I called my friend and asked her to send her step dad to deal with the squirrel. That’s when I started to seek trauma healing.
Unhealed trauma fills up like a water tank. If it keeps filling without being drained, each new traumatic event picks up all the unhealed trauma. Suddenly, you’re not just dealing with the squirrel in the living room. Instead, that squirrel triggers all the traumatic experiences you’ve never been healed of, and they bombard your heart, mind, and body all at once. Talk about being overwhelmed and shut down!
Trauma healing has changed my life. I could see that as I gauged my reaction to the rodent in my apartment two weeks ago. More importantly, I can see the changes in my everyday living. I’ve had some hard hits, and my friends have remarked on the changes. I don’t crash as hard (sometimes not at all), and I bounce back faster – within minutes or hours, not days or weeks as before.
If you would like to learn more about trauma healing, a good place to start would be reading this article by Kerri Johnson at The Center for Inner Healing: “Exchanging Trauma for Peace.” She explains why we lock trauma away inside ourselves, and what it takes to find healing.
After you read the article, I recommend exploring The Center for Inner Healing’s website. This is the ministry where God helped me with my healing from trauma.
Kerri is leading an upcoming healing retreat that will make a big difference in people’s lives. I know. I’ve been through it. She also leads a tribe called The Journey that helps all of us walk out our healing in community.
Thank You, Lord, for giving us a way to heal from trauma. I am so grateful to You for all You have done – and continue to do – in my heart and in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen