Background on Declaration: The last poem that I wrote was entitled, “Sin”, and it can be found here. Today’s poem, “Declaration”, makes one take time to think about events that occurred leading up to the death of Jesus, as he hung on the cross.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
A couple of weeks ago, we focused on the shame aspect of trauma. You can find that discussion: “The Shame Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis” here. Today, we will discuss the blackout aspect of trauma.
What is the blackout aspect of trauma? The blackout aspect of trauma consists of several different things. First of all, not everyone, but for some people living with PTSD/trauma, there is something that happens with your body’s sense of being able to handle the transition between light and dark if that makes sense. For myself, it was so significant that at first, I had to have a lot of lights on in the house. If I didn’t, I would feel like the darkness was closing in on me.
Old Experience with Blackout
When my kids and I were homeless, and waiting for God to give us a place to live, one of my friends took us in for five weeks. At this time, my issue with blackout was so bad, that the darkness made me scared to fall asleep. I would wake up in a panic, and have to calm myself down so that I could feel rested. I felt like I had gone from a forty something year old woman to a child afraid of the dark again. So, not only was it scary, but I was filled with shame.
New Experience with Blackout
What I noticed the situation is now, is that I have such a sensitivity to light, that I have to have it completely dark in order to fall asleep. If there is any light coming in from the blinds, I know I am going to have trouble falling asleep. If I don’t have the light blocking my face, even if I’ve had 8 hours of sleep, I will have extreme layers of bags under my eyes that will look like I haven’t slept in days. Also, my whole body will be in an extreme case of exhaustion.
Two years ago, I had to serve at the concession stand at church for basketball season. It was a pretty gloomy day in general, and since it was early evening when I got dropped off at the church, it was even darker. I stepped into the church’s kitchen to begin my serving shift, when everything started closing in on me.
My old techniques were immediate panic, but right then, I reminded myself of where I was, that it would eventually stop, and that engaging in conversation with others around me would help me to get grounded in the present moment. I would just have to ride it out.
When is the blackout aspect really bad? This is during the time where there is changing of the seasons, especially when it starts getting darker closer to winter.
I do a better job of handling it now, but in the beginning, it really rattled me to be honest. Feel free to drop a line in regards to your blackout aspect, and how you handle it.