I woke up drenched in sweat and shivering. I looked around my bedroom and started reminding myself where I was, “I am at home, my name is Sabrina Greene-Rusk, I am 32 years old, the year is 2018, I am married to JJ, I am safe, I am loved, I am cared for.” Then I took a deep breath and continued to try and calm my fleeting heartbeat. “It was just a night terror,” I told myself and I got up to head to the shower on trembling limbs. Unfortunately, a lot of my mornings start like this due to my complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which causes terrifying night terrors.
This morning was worse than normal, and I was really struggling to get the night’s images our of my mind. My night terrors can be so real that if I do not reclaim my mind I will feel their effects for the entire day. The statements I started telling myself upon waking are a technique called grounding which is intended to bring my mind’s focus back to the present moment. My counselor taught this strategy to me many years ago to cope with flashbacks.
Thankfully, I can’t tell you what was so horrible that morning from a few weeks ago, and I wouldn’t want to remember anyway, but what came to me in the shower is the beautiful part.
Music is another tool that helps me regain control of my mind and as I stepped in the shower to cleanse myself of the night sweats I turned on one of my “power ballads,” The Sound of Surviving by Nicole Nordeman. As the hot water pelted my back and attempted to knead my tense muscles to release I lifted my voice and started to sing along.
I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to this song but as the second verse started it gave me a flash of an image. It was of a young woman who was staring down a path and there were mountains in the distance, but she appeared free and courageous. She lifted a corner of her gown and started to run down the path determined to face what was in front of her uninhibited. The image was so vivid in my mind that I leaned against the shower wall and wept with release and joy.
As tears mingled with the rivulets of water on my skin I gave thanks to God for his “love note” to me and his creative insight into my mind. I knew that I would paint this image as a reminder to myself and others that we are not called to fear and pain but to courage and power.
One of my “power” scriptures I read everyday on my living room wall is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
If you are facing a mountain of trouble or a battle in your life, don’t give up! Pick yourself up and claim power and courage in your life because you have a story and no one else can live it but you. Your first steps may be wobbly like mine were trying to get the shower that morning but in no time, you will find yourself running. Let the wind flow through your hair and lift your chin high because you are a warrior even if you don’t know it yet.