You don’t have to be battle ready: A conversation

LittleGirlSkippingI’m a huge proponent of counseling.  I’ve been in therapy most of my life and wished that my family had been too.  But I was the lone ranger who left the fold, got college educated and beyond and who dove into therapy, resurfacing periodically but always diving back for more.

I’ve had many therapists through the years, as my needs have changed, moving on when the time was right when I had learned as much as I could with a particular practitioner.  I’ve had some rotten ones too. Except now, they only get a session or two before I know its a bad fit. I’m sufficiently couch broken.

Right now, I’m in that sweet spot of a great fit.  A woman who is intuitive, approachable, caring and funny.  I have a great time in our sessions, laughing as much as I cry through my profound revelations.  She understands my extreme sensitivity to the world and has taught me skills to survive and thrive in that world based fully on who I am.  DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, is what I’m learning, with amazing results I might add.  

During this weeks session, we discuss mindfulness and the state of being present to which I tell her I’m doing just okay with the concept.  Not great but OK.  I’m not unique in possessing a brain that goes at warp speed.  My mind is whirring constantly; topics I want to write on, chores that need completion, causes that need my attention, a world that needs me to save it. And worst of all, I’m a ruminator.  I have to chew and chew on something, regurgitate it back up, poke at it and begin chewing on it some more.  And let me tell you, that is exhausting.  The tugging tendencies are so strong and constant even though my therapist has been teaching me to cultivate mindfulness and stillness for over a year now.  Understanding these concepts, I’m slowly gaining some control over my mind which is a really good thing.  I continue to practice it day by day, hour by hour.  

I’m explaining to Cathy that I need to make a plan for the rest of my summer.  I feel better with an agenda having given time and thought to my future needs.  I tell her how much more in control of my life I feel when I’ve explored my options, weighed them out and know what lies ahead.  She listens but quickly replies,  “You don’t have to be battle ready”.  

I pause for a moment, thinking I know what she’s said and go back to my diatribe of explaining my need for a plan.  She repeats herself, “You don’t have to be battle ready”.  Ok, now I need to stop and see what this “battle ready” thing is that she’s repeated to me twice.  I tell her to please explain that to me because I don’t see that an absence of a plan is good for me.  How could I function without it?

I tear up immediately and she gently explains that traumatized children learned survival by knowing their surroundings at all times.  Attempting to detect threats to their safety, they take their cues from the moods of others, the time of day, seasons of the year (fill in the blank here with your own).  These children don’t get to relax and trust how a safe world evolves, they must be hyper vigilant constantly to survive.

We have visited this topic often, its a big one for me.  My tendencies are still so strong to be alert to my surroundings and feel the need to exert that compulsion toward creating a predictably safe future agenda.  I’m a contantly-looking-over-your-shoulder ,waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop kind of person.  

I love that she is helping me deprogram.  She notices my behavior even when I’m arguing that I’m not exhibiting the behavior.  She is helping me notice and understand the neurological wiring that was changed long ago when I experienced long-term trauma.  The survival reflex learned in childhood is still alive and operating.  But as she continues, I don’t need it now.  I don’t have to be battle ready all the time.  I can relax and let my body relax.  

I love these words and this concept.  They feel soft and fuzzy.  It isn’t new to me but bears repeating often.  A new pattern must be developed in my thinking that relieves me of the knee jerk reaction to grab my sword from my sheath and be prepared for battle.  I’m so ready for a reprieve.  I think its why I started crying when she explained it again.  It’s like music to my ears to hear that I actually, finally, once and for all can put down my weapon and still feel safe.  

Suggested Reading: An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread

About Rescuing Little L

Documenting the pieces of my journey...recovery from childhood sexual abuse and cruel ignorance...the effects of those incidious acts through adulthood... until the grace of recovery transcended the trauma and shame of my past, making it possible to return to Rescue Little L.... View all posts by Rescuing Little L

17 responses to “You don’t have to be battle ready: A conversation

  • Randy Creath

    At the risk of setting your “ruminator” into gear, I wonder if not being “battle-ready” can mean that you don’t have to carry so many weapons of preparedness? Can you find your way through your day without retreating to an entrenched place of safety? And, perhaps these are questions that don’t even apply to you. They came to mind as I read your post!!

    • Rescuing Little L

      Feel free to comment anyway, anytime Randy! You didn’t set off my ruminator but I did get a chuckle at the word, we’ve probably coined a new term here….

      Yes, the battle weapons need to be put down and peace, love, safety, joy need to replace them. It is a delicate balancing act to retain equilibrium but well worth the effort. Still defining new places of true safety.

      Thanks for stopping by and as always, welcome the discussion with you….

  • Julie Catherine

    Little L, I so can relate to this, as I had a couple of wonderful counselors that helped me through the same process using the same concept. It takes a long time to unlearn something that’s been ingrained into our DNA from childhood – and even when we think everything has been dealt with to the max … sometimes it’s just not over. There will always be a trigger that we didn’t realize existed. It’s up to us to know it’s only a trigger, and we don’t have to relive everything all again – or be battle-ready every second of our lives. I know it can be done, and am always keeping you in my thoughts and prayers in the hopes that one day you will know it too. Sending you love and gentle hugs, Julie xox

    • Rescuing Little L

      Great to hear from you Julie….and I can so relate to your comments too. Just when you think you’ve got it, another trigger or issues just bubbles to the top. And you are so correct, it is just a trigger and thank goodness, this DBT is helping NOT relive the trauma again…

      I’m sorry for all of us that has that issue but at the same time, I find a sensitivity and creativity that I have learned to love. I see that in your writing and poetry too. I have to believe that the past traumas have presented us with gifts, its what I hold on to now…

      Thanks for the gentle hug, it was wonderful 🙂 and sending one back!

      • Julie Catherine

        Thank you, the hug is appreciated here too, as I’ve been having a bit of a rough time with my health and pain levels lately … and I’m so honored that you read my poetry and am very grateful for your lovely words. Wishing you a wonderful and empowering week. 🙂 xox

      • Rescuing Little L

        Sorry about the pain and the health issues, they can take on a whole life of their own…Yes, I read your poetry and think of you often…Blessings to you!

  • Running from Hell with El

    I get this!! And I love the concept that you’re starting to set your battle gear down. I do the exact same thing and I just love this new thing, this new feeling, of not always being on call, or as Cathy calls it, “battle-ready!”

  • theflamingoflies

    Oh dear L… I could hardly get to the end of this post without dissociating and a looking for a distraction from this topic. I get it, I so get it. How many years have I lived with my teeth and hands clinched and my shoulders in my ears in hyper-vigilance. It has taken me years to be able to walk into a darkened room or through the door of the garage without thinking twice about my safety. You are not alone my friend. Many of us still carry weapons of a childhood battlefield, that once served us well. So glad that you are finding a safe place in which to lay your weapons down.

    • Rescuing Little L

      oh sweetie….I shudder at the thought of us as children and now adults carrying that with us…Our hope lies in the fact that we’ve found safe places now and can put our weapons down and experience life in terms of safety and love…Such a pleasure to know you and I send you blessings 🙂

  • Joyce

    Thank you for this post! I have written some poetry and would like to share it with you, if you would like to read it. I hope they won’t be to triggering for you. I don’t think they will.

  • ☼Illuminary☼

    I wanted to “like” this, so that you knew I had come and read and smiled. But WP isn’t loading well tonight, must be the rain.

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