By Nicole Marie Hilton, Wednesday, March 11th, 2020
Victims of trauma rarely experience peace of mind. Their thoughts can be a cacophony of inner voices and emotions tumbling in and out of the frame. When the victim does experience a moment of stillness, it can be fleeting and sometimes even troubling. It may require new training to feel comfortable and at home with a quiet, peaceful mind.
I just walked through the Las Vegas airport to board a flight to Washington, D.C. As I was walking, I realized something curious: that’s all I was doing. I was simply…walking. And noticing things. There’s the bathroom. I’m going to go in this stall. The lady’s shoes in the stall next to mine are made of black leather. I’m going to wash my hands longer than I usually do because of the Coronavirus. Oh, look. There’s my face in the mirror.
Pretty basic, right? But if you could hear the confused raging mass of voices that have been in my head for most of my life, you’d be surprised, too. My mind feels strangely calm. Quiet. Organized. Like some Marie Kondo fanatic has come in and taken out everything that isn’t absolutely essential. I looked in my eyes while washing my hands, and I searched for what I could not find. Gone was the incessant, judgmental, contradictory mind chatter that has accompanied me to every activity I’ve ever participated in. I was free.
First of all, I’d like to demonstrate just what exactly I was free from. The same 2 minute stretch of time might have sounded something like this just a year ago:
“Where’s the bathroom? WHERE THE $*&# IS THE BATHROOM? I hate public restrooms. Oh, get over yourself! I miss my mom already. I WANT A CUPCAKE! Am I really going to be flying all night with a connecting flight until 12 pm tomorrow afternoon? This is the worst situation ever. Will Dad walk the dogs while I’m gone? What if I have a panic attack on the airplane? Just go in the bathroom and breathe calmly, Nicole. [Random scene of me being raped flashes through my mind] That’s not gonna happen. Wow, that restroom attendant didn’t do a very good job. Let’s be kind—Jesus loves that attendant. I’M FAT! What does my butt look like from behind? Pick that stall! NO, THAT ONE! No no no—go down further. What the flip are you doing? You should have picked the other stall, you moron! You’re not a moron. I love you. I WANT A CUPCAKE WITH PINK FROSTING AND A CHOCOLATE DIPPED STRAWBERRY ON TOP! What if the woman in the next stall is judging me? Why on earth would she be judging you? I don’t know, maybe because I’M PEEING AND SHE CAN HEAR ME! How old are you, like 5? Let’s wash our hands. WHAT IF WE DIE FROM THE CORONAVIRUS?! What if? What if? Ugh I hate my face right now. No, erase that, I’m beautiful! But my eyes…they look so tired and desperate. Other people can tell I’m a mess, can’t they? …Can we get the cupcake soon?”
Imagine living with that, day in and day out, for your entire life. Not fun. Yet today, there was nothing really going on in my head. During the shuttle ride to Vegas, I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was like there was this…emptiness. While walking in the airport, I realized that there seemed to be a space carved out for me in my own mind, just ready to be filled with whatever I wanted.
I have some theories about why this is, and I’m pretty sure they’re on point. First of all, JJ (my boyfriend) and I have been doing the intense emotional work of calling up and healing the fractured pieces of my personality for more than a year now. (You can read about that here and here.) This process nearly killed me in May, 2019. I attempted suicide and was in a coma for a few days—the war between the parts of me who believed JJ was, basically, “out to get me,” and the parts who were still in love with him was too much for one mind to take. After the attempted suicide, the healing process continued—nearly killing our relationship as parts of me kept on trying to leave him.
But he stayed true. And he learned to honor and love me even when I was screaming at him or saying all sorts of horrible things to him. But the bits of me that were in love with him would leave little clues for him—breadcrumbs, if you will. And he followed them. Ultimately, he decided that he wasn’t going to end up like the dozens of other men I’d left in my life. Why? Because I hadn’t healed with any of them. I’d never gotten this far…except with JJ.
JJ knew that healing has been my #1 priority ever since second grade. There was no way all of me was going to turn back now. And slowly, ever so slowly, those pieces of me that were hurting and lashing out started to turn to him and trust him. I started to hope. And he started to help connect me with Christ, and I started to heal.
As each new piece was triggered by something, then started to “front”, turn to JJ and to Christ, and then heal, that piece would become more aligned with my core—creating a more unified and colorful personality.
The last piece to be called up was very young, and she/I came out when JJ and I were helping Rep. Tulsi Gabbard with her campaign in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was hyperventilating and literally terrified of ever being trapped, again. Through JJ’s gift of being able to give blessings, I heard and felt the presence of heavenly beings speak assurances to calm my soul. That piece of me is now fitting nicely in with the rest of me.
But, once all the personalities were awake and unified, working together in harmony, was everything done? Far from it. I still needed to tackle the biggest beast I’ve ever faced in my life—my addiction to sugar and flour.
I know that may sound silly—that that’s the biggest thing I’ve ever faced. But, considering the sheer amount of struggling I’ve spent against this monster, it’s true. This monster has been with me and was a rare source of solace when I was a little girl. I had been raped, and I struggled with memory loss, bullying, and people not taking me seriously. I faced suicidal programming and constant attacks from Satan. This addiction turned into bulimia in middle school, and even then, I didn’t want to let it go. This addiction followed me into college and it was always there through every failed relationship, through every time I had to drop my classes, and through being in and out of hospitals. It was always there—a comforting monster.
But despite the greatness of the task of slaying this monster—which I had thought was my friend—I realized that as long as there are still addictions in the mind, I would never be truly healthy mentally.
I’m happy to report that I’m done with day 15 of Brightline Eating—an eating program that’s based on the 12 steps for Overeaters Anonymous. I realize that I will never be “done” with this addiction—that it’s a monster I’m going to have to re-slay every day of my life from here on out, but the peace of mind I’ve gained from eating just whole food with no sugar and no flour for two weeks is priceless.
So, for now, my mind is swept and mostly empty of chatter. There are neutral thoughts about my surroundings and what I’m doing—but other than this entry, there’s really no voices there. Just a whole lot of quiet…and possibility.