In Invisible Heroes by Belleruth Naparsteck, she describes the physiological mechanism of trauma; that during trauma the part of the brain that processes language is overridden, and the part of the brain that uses and remembers images is heightened which is why the flashbacks are so intense – I remember EXACTLY the mammogram technician’s facial expressions, the way she was breathing, the set up of the room, the rustle of the gown I was wearing – EVERYTHING – I was out of body, dissociated, but my visual mind was absolutely aware of everything happening.
And today, when I put on a gown, which I have to do regularly — once you’ve had cancer, you get to spend LOTS of time with doctors — and each time, I have this infernal anxiety response.
She describes how guided visualizations help heal the brain. She mentions that many traumatized people develop their own imagery to help them through – which is exactly what I have done. She writes at length about techniques for bringing the dissociation back into the body – Oh, so so SO helpful!
My imagery has developed over such a long period that it’s like a complex, rich world that I’ve created. There’s this Tree that I have been visiting, I realize now, for over 20 years. It’s roots touch a river that flows from the Source. Sometimes I am a salmon in the river, using my chemotherapeutically enhanced sense of smell to find the Source, nosing my way back there, eventually.
The Tree has roots that are fed by the waters from the Source. It is the Tree of Life, of course, that the Grandmother showed me in a vision. The one with a little hobbity door in the trunk, one that I have stepped into and made it my home again.
After evicting my “bad tenants” I pinned an Eviction Notice on the door, and for a long time, I cleaned up. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned my home, using a fine brush to remove all trace of cancer (broken shards of glass scattered on the floor). After some time, I put curtains on the window, flowers on the table, making it home-y. Coming Home.
A couple of years ago, I heard an interview with Nalini Nadkarni. She uses mountain climbing gear to climb into the tree canopy of rainforests all over the world. She’s discovered ecosystems that no-one has explored before, with life forms that no-one knew about. Her description of the tree canopy is that it is more like the prairie than the forest floor, windy, bright and open.
In my visions I have found a bed in the tree top. It is a comfortable bed, with fresh crisp sheets. I’m completely safe while resting on this bed, rocked in the arms of the tree, lulled to sleep by the birds.