Invisible Heroes: Survivors of trauma and how they heal by Belleruth Naparstek became one of my "bibles" in my journey through trauma and resultant PTSD after my therapist suggested I take a gander at it.
This book gave me an incredible sense of relief as it described me in detail. It was as if this clinician knew me, Mama Bear, intimately.
I read amazed as I found myself, my story, my disabilities, my challenges in the pages of her book. Validating me as both a person and as a survivor of trauma.
My eyes popped wide open. My understanding of myself as a victim of trauma deepened, coming into focus when I read: "One surprise benefit that comes from a traumatic experience is the emergence of intuitive abilities that were previously only dormant or occasional." (Invisible Heroes: Survivors of trauma and how they heal, 91-92)
This brief sentence opened my eyes to an ability that is an integral part of me. One which I've had for many years and learned to lean into. One which is, to me, part of the furniture in my living room. Accepted as normal. Yet, this ability is far from the norm. Not everyone has it. Most people don't. Because they don't have it, they don't recognize it or accept it's validity. They pooh-pooh it. More to the point: this ability scares the heck out of those who don't have it. It's too uncanny. Too far out of the normal. Yet, for a survivor of trauma such as myself, it is part of my normal: a vital, integral part of who I am.
I call it the sixth sense.
Researching intuition and intuition as a sixth sense, I found that most sites were not on the same page as myself. Even Belleruth herself thinks of intuition as a paranormal, psychic phenomenon.
To me, it's neither paranormal nor psychic. It is uncanny, though.
I think it began, came into focus, during a traumatic event I experienced vicariously as a very young child, described in my blog entitled "Lye", in which a neighbour was brutally attacked when a janitor through a homemade, lye-based concoction in her face.
I say vicariously because although I was in the apartment immediately below at the time of the attack, I neither saw nor heard anything. I vividly remember the aftermath of the attack. I remember exactly what we were doing that day. What I was feeling prior to the knock on our door. Even the smells in our apartment. The faces of our neighbours. The sounds of their voices. The victim's children being ushered into our apartment until someone could come for them. I remember all of this more than 50 years later as though it just happened yesterday.
Earlier my chums at the apartment complex had had a contact with this man which was very unpleasant, very different from the norm. They imparted the information to stay away from this man because he was "mean". Child speak: crude but effective. Being me, I didn't believe them. I went up to see for myself. I experienced for myself this man's nature. I realized the truth of what the other children in the complex were saying.
I believe that my sixth sense, my intuition, began that day and has, if anything, become more developed over the intervening years.
I've developed an uncanny ability to read people. To come up with two plus two equals four. Not by what people say. But rather, by what they don't say. Or how they say it. If two or three people use the exact same words with the same intonation, my sixth sense, my intuition, kicks in big time warning me of potential danger from these individuals. In addition, I read body language. Facial expressions. The way someone walks. Patterns of behaviour. Patterns tell me a lot about people. Observation. I observe people: my family, my workmates, my neighbours, people I interact with in a group setting, people in the mall. No one is immune from my observation. It's not malicious: it's simply a part of me, part of the furniture of my psychological makeup.
In the instance with the janitor and his concoction of lye, he had a pattern of being a mean-spirited person. I didn't trust him. I avoided him. However, the adults did not have that sixth-sense. They were not able to read this man. It was a huge shock to them when he attacked our neighbour. To me, it was not a shock. I knew he was mean. As a five year old, I did not have the capability or life experience to discern how mean he was. I just knew intuitively that there was something wrong with this man and to avoid him.
Years ago, on an intercity bus trip, our driver was playing a game with the passengers: he said he had six "hats" and asked us to guess what they were. I immediately said he was with the Highway Patrol. He didn't answer. Turned the conversation away from my suggestion. At the very end of the game, he turned to me and asked: "How did you know?" He thought it was because I'd seen him speaking to some Highway Patrol officers on a break. He was wrong. My perception was based on two things: (1) the way he walked down the aisle of the bus at the beginning our journey with his hole puncher on his left hip and (2) he had disclosed that he had recently acquired a degree in psychology. Two plus two equaled four.
My uncanny ability to read the non-verbals, to discern the intangibles, to add two plus two together, almost invariably comes out with the correct answer of four.
Tomorrow, I will introduce the "Radar Kid". A second part of the sixth sense, intuition and how it affects my life as an Invisible Hero. One who has survived trauma and lived to tell the tale.