In my book " The Journey of Josephine" I tell a story about a canoe trip that I bought for a birthday present to my ex-husband. I talked about how the trip was a disaster. That He yelled at me and cursed at me for all to hear. I told you how the instructor finally put me into his canoe and was so kind to me. I was shaking because now i was scared at what was going to happen when I got into the car. I was embarrassed because the instructor now thought I didn't love Jesus and told me he was my only hope. This Guy had no idea I have been praying for years for God to intervene. I had pleaded with God in the darkness of the night and had sought his help with my marriage and for my husband to like something about me. This was one of the first times that my ex was loud with his feelings toward me. I don't know why I was the one who was embarrassed but, I carried that guilt that if I just could of done something things would have been better. I had never been on a canoe before and had no idea that left meant right and right meant left. I didn't know how to grab my ex when he fell into the water. I had the urge to tell him "It serves you right" but I knew then when to keep my mouth silent. When the trip was over the instructor handed me a card. This card had the number of the domestic violence hotline. How did he have that card? Were there others before me? Did other women experience what I did and now he came prepared to give us a card of hope? The mask was now off, someone on the outside new my story, they knew my secret that took place within the four walls of my home. Once again nobody could help me but, I do believe that God was preparing a way of escape. Didn't know when but, I knew.
I tell you this story again because a couple of weeks ago I went on a canoe ride again. This time it was in the swamps of Georgia. The swamp was full of alligators. but I planned a trip with one of my friends, that we had not seen each other for over thirty years. We both had a lot of anxiety going into this adventure. She didn't know my anxiety was from that experience so many years ago. I didn't want to put pressure on her but, I wanted to give her a Georgia experience. Even at the risk of my anxiety. We got to the place and suited up into our life jackets and got into a canoe that neither one of us had been in for a very long time. I don't know whether she was shaking but, I knew I was. I always have said I wanted a death that my children could talk about, well this could have been the day. We knew there was alligators all over the place, they were hiding under the water because it was so hot that day. But our brave selves got into the canoe and were pushed off to our adventure. we were gliding through the swamp with alligators. She was up front, I was in the back praying and thinking about the last time I was in a canoe, I was asking God for favor. But, after a few minutes I realized I was safe. My girlfriend was gentle and kind to me and also did most of the rowing because I was just as confused as the last time. But I was safe. How could of been safer amongst the alligators in a swamp than when I was with my husband, that vowed to cherish me? The swamp was very peaceful. We saw alligators that would barely come up out of the water and while we were passing went back into the water. We weren't a threat to them and the funny thing they weren't a threat to us either. We had a very peaceful time enjoying the beauty of the swamp. We had one time that was a little scary but, we got through it and cheered each other on because we did it. We turned ourselves around. When we were heading back, I realized i survived. I realized that I would get out of that canoe safe. I wasn't going to get another card because someone cared about me and treated me human. She did most of the work and didn't throw that in my face. I got out of an alligator infested swamp feeling safe and loved. Plus, accomplished. We did it. faced our fears and laughed in the moment.
These were two different stories with two different outcomes. I read somewhere that in order for your brain not to hold a trauma memory with severity it must be replaced with another memory in the same context. The experiences that we have are categorize so that when something happens those feelings well up inside of us and begin to relive the trauma by the systems that the brain tells our bodies to feel. So many different things have happened to me that my brain reacts for me because it remembers for me. I am working on some of my responses and finding new experiences to help me to see things through a different set of eyes. My life has been full of trauma, like so many of you. But we can create new memories. We can experience something that was the same but, now different. My canoe trip with me friend ended being something awesome for me in more ways than one. I was safe amongst the alligators. I was safe with a new instructor who showed me kindness and taught me gently how to row a boat. I felt confident in the swamp with big eyes of alligators watching us than I ever felt on a canoe ride with an ex that found a way to humiliate me with others watching. I am on a journey to show my brain new experiences and to change the ones that have brought fear to me. I don't want to live with those memories controlling my life and taking life away from me. Our stories don't need to end in defeat but, with victory and courage to train our brains for adventures and recovery. we are allowing the pain of yesterday control our tomorrows. we need to be the driver of our own lives. We need to open wide the closets of our lives and one by one change the history of our lives and the lives of the next generations. Let's put our brain to work by having to file good memories for us. We need the change. You can feel at peace in the swamp that is infested with alligators with the right people and the Right attitude. This is your time!! this is your moment. Let it begin today!!
My next re-train is being a passenger in a car with someone else driving. That's for another day