I was sleeping when the phone rang.
“It’s your father. You need to get here fast.”
I jumped out of bed, got dressed and left the house running.
I thought I was dreaming as I couldn’t feel grounded in my own body.
My ex-husband was driving insanely fast whilst trying to keep me calm and reassuring that everything was going to be fine.
But it wasn’t.
Truly, my life would never be the same after that phone call.
My father had passed away in his sleep and all that was left was his tiny and fragile body to honor and celebrate.
The body that allowed his soul to come into this life and dance with me.
The body who taught me how to ride a bicycle and make french toast.
The body that hugged me when I was scared and carried me when I was tired.
The body that was now breathless and lifeless.
I hugged his cold body in my arms, we then washed him and got him dressed.
I went through all of this in a dream-like state.
Numb, shocked, and apathetic.
That was 13 years ago, but as I sit here today I could swear that it just happened yesterday.
Life moved on but that memory still screams in my mind as I relive that moment.
It never left me.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, after that event, I came to develop a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with the circumstances of his death.
For many years after that, I would wake up every night, around the time he died and I would unconsciously get up and get dressed in a hurry.
“It’s ok, it’s over, come back to bed.” my ex would say.
Every night I tried to save him by waking up a bit sooner and getting into the house a little earlier than that night when he passed away.
I so desperately wanted to go back and save him.
I so desperately wanted to go back and save myself from losing him.
I then transferred that pattern to waking up many times during the night to check if my ex-husband was breathing and alive in his sleep.
I would touch him to see if his body was warm and I would go back to sleep right away.
This became a routine until I had my children, then the pattern changed again.
I would check up on my children regularly to make sure that they were breathing by placing my finger under their noses, then going back to bed and sleeping for a few more hours before doing this all over again.
I would do this whole routine completely unaware and on automatic pilot.
I became that trauma and the trauma became me.
If I hadn’t saved my father that night, I was going to make sure that I would save everybody else going forward.
This is my story, but it could be yours.
Trauma sets in the pain body through our most terrifying experiences, and we all suffer from it to some degree.
Some are evident to us due to the degree of the experience, but some are viciously hidden under the surface of our daily lives.
We don’t have to go through war to develop a “flight or fight” condition when we are faced with other equally traumatizing experiences throughout our lives.
More and more we start to create a safe space for emotional expression in modern society, but not always are we able to address our own emotions, anxiety and deepest fears and so they become who we are.
They become part of our actions, part of our lifestyle, and part of our mindset.
We start to avoid places, people, situations, celebrations, foods, activities, sports, songs, words, resemblances, books, movies, colors, smells, references, topics, clothes because they are PTSD inducing and a trigger for a potential panic attack, or at the very least, a mild anxiety episode.
Every negative experience we have changes the fabric of who we are.
For me, it was that day when I couldn’t save my father, and even though it is just a memory of the past, the same emotion is triggered and activated through other experiences that I go through in my life.
Becoming a spiritual translator and a healing facilitator has allowed me to almost intervene before anything happens in my client’s lives or rather help them heal when the episode has passed and that truly helps me through my own triggers of that past experience.
I get to help them re-write their story outside of the trauma and create alternative paths for a healed destiny.
It always makes me feel like I somehow recover parts of myself that died that day along with my father.
The issue with PTSD is that it becomes a never-ending story unless we address it properly.
It starts with that one episode that activates that specific fear or condition, and then it keeps on piling up through other experiences that just add more tension to the initial condition itself.
We are not destined to relive the same stories and patterns over and over again, in fact, the power to change the script of our lives lies within us, we just have to address what our personal fears are and almost reassure that old version of ourselves that it is over.
We are safe now.
We are not meant to repeat history, we are meant to constantly create new experiences, new memories, new emotions, new outcomes, new desires, and new paths.
Letting go of the grief attached to the trigger itself is the key to solving this puzzle.
Surely, there is a sense of loss that is attached to the experience.
It could be the loss of someone or something either through death or distance.
A really nasty divorce or breakup from someone who was truly significant to us can definitely traumatize us to the point where we never trust a partner again and become an adulterated version of ourselves keeping walls up to avoid pain and hurt.
A traumatic experience of loss as a child will trigger co-dependency issues in our relationships because we can’t stand the thought of losing anyone else in our lives.
It can also trigger a whole pattern of fearing death, which will then make us reject having more adventurous life experiences, or on the other side of the spectrum, it can activate a sense of aliveness and make us become a “devil-may-care” type of person.
An abusive childhood experience where violence was present within our family dynamic can make us develop trust issues and a deep sense of never feeling safe enough to be ourselves or not protected enough to be open and vulnerable, so we become defensive, invasive and unable to deal with conflict, or we become a violent adult that flies off the handle for any minor issue that occurs.
The diagnosed PTSD can be cured, address and healed with proper methods, but the concerning issue is the hidden PTSD that we all carry within ourselves, dormant, numb, waiting for something to push our buttons, activate the fear and initiate the response pattern all over again.
Our minds have a tendency to go back to what hurt us in the past because those experiences are associated with a sense of unfinished business, unfairness, and lack of balance.
When those overwhelming feelings come up to the surface, we can ask ourselves what triggered us before starting the process of projecting our pain upon others and therefore closing the cycle of trauma within ourselves.
What triggered me?
I felt excluded.
I felt unheard.
I felt judged.
I felt blamed.
I felt disrespected.
I felt lack of affection.
I felt uncared for.
I felt lonely.
I felt ignored.
I felt like I couldn’t be honest.
I felt like a bad person.
I felt forgotten.
I felt unsafe.
I felt unloved.
I felt like that was unfair.
I felt frustrated.
I felt disconnected.
I felt trapped.
I felt like I couldn’t speak up.
I felt manipulated.
I felt controlled.
Then by understanding those triggers, we can disassociate the emotion from that past event, and that past event from our present moment so that we don’t have to go through the cycle all over again and leave unhealed parts of us to dominate our life experiences.
I doubt that that night will ever die for me, but I am positively sure that I am healing from it every day.
If not for any other reason, to honor the sense of spiritual freedom that my father experienced through the process of me losing him.
He was liberated from his suffering through the path of least resistance.
In his sleep, by his wife’s side, and surrounded by love and comfort.
Me wanting him to stay longer would be prolonging his own pain and hurt, so the pain I have experienced was worth paying in exchange for his soul liberation.
I will never be able to save him, but by God, I will never stop saving others through him.
These things don’t heal overnight, sometimes not even in a lifetime, but we owe it to ourselves to be free, to follow our dreams, to embrace our passions and we can only do that by being authentic to who we are and unveiling the masks of fear that we wear every day.
We are not afraid of love, we are afraid of rejection.
We are not afraid of being ourselves, we are afraid of judgment.
We can’t stop loving ourselves and others just because we have experienced pain in the past.
After all, we are not our experiences, but rather the love, the kindness, the compassion, the authenticity, the vulnerability, and the fragility that we gain from those events.
Those are the trophies from our internal battles.
We are love, and being anything less than that would not be honoring who we truly are.
Somedays all we can be is a scared version of ourselves, and some days we are a beautiful child of a loving Universe.
Either way, it is okay, it is over, and we are safe.
If you are struggling with trauma, anxiety or unhealed issues from the past, please feel free to reach out to me for a private session.
Nothing will change unless you change.
I am sending you so much love and joy today, and I am praying that you are safe and protected within the power of your own heart.
The Wounded Healer,
By Ana Souto