For those of you who haven’t seen or read, “The Help”. You probably should. Unless you are like me and you can only handle so much sad in one place, then you can make it halfway through the movie and keep promising yourself that one day you’ll finish it.
Doug has taken a refrain he got from the movie and is too special to not be in the book and tailored it to meet me in my most vulnerable moments when I need to be reminded of some pretty solid truths.
In the movie, it goes like this, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important.”
The main maid-lady, whose name I would most likely know if I ever mustered up the courage to finish the film, says it to a little girl and makes her repeat it.
When I am completely dissociative it can be scary at first. It seems like I’m not there at all. Like I’m a body with no person inside. I can’t speak, move, or respond. Sometimes my body is wracked by tremors caused by body memories. My body and my mind’s chemicals are reliving being raped or beaten and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
I am quite literally helpless.
There is nothing that can be done either. No words can reach me because I, myself, the person typing, isn’t able to receive reason. See, traumatic episodes actually shut down your frontal lobe, which is your reasoning center. Your fight or flight response is triggered and your amygdala fires all kinds of signals that make your limbic system go haywire.
My brain is broken. To heal from trauma it actually requires a physical change in your brain. It’s called changing your neuro-plasticity.
Your mind is similar to a complex set up of entertainment equipment. You have a game system, a DVD player, a cable box, and a television. Each thing plugs into a certain place on each end. Maybe you even have surround sound.
Then, someone comes along and rips out all the cables from their proper places.
You don’t know what to do, so you just put it back together the best you know how, which is what your brain is made to do; fix itself.
But, there are some things that aren’t right. You turn on the TV and the cable box lights up. You hit play on the DVD player and the surround sound turns on. The connections aren’t going to the right places.
Such is the way with trauma.
Your mind doesn’t know you are safe and so it responds to “triggers” or reminders of trauma as if they are happening now. Like a soldier ducking down from a car backfiring. There is no gun fire, but his or her mind has been conditioned to respond that way, regardless of what may be rational.
I know you probably didn’t wander over to my blog for some poor metaphor about some sketchy scientific facts that I most likely got mixed up.
Doug says to me, when I’m “gone”, when I can’t hear anything else, he reminds me this:
“You is strong. You is brave. You is important.”
For our anniversary this year the traditional gift is one of cotton. I got him pants. Because I kind of suck at presents and because he needed them.
He painted me an enormous reminder.
So that we can hang it up in our room and I can see it no matter what kind of day I’m having.
My mind gets confused about where, who, what, when, I am. My body gets confused about what’s happening to it and around it.
But the human that I am lucky enough to call my husband, my caregiver, the love-of-my-life; he never gets confused about what I am.
I is strong.
I is brave.
I is important.
You are too.