“The devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us, and so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you: He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy.”
-Blessed Mother Teresa
One of my favorite scents in the world is the smell of rain. My umbrella used to have that scent on it at all times, and is probably one of the things about it I missed the most when I lost it. I got to enjoy it recently though, when it finally rained.
Since yesterday, I’ve been looking into aromatherapy; the dried lavender I got to ward off flies arrived in the mail, and while its scent is sweet and soothing all by itself, I wondered if I could use it with other herbs to bring something refreshing like rain to my little home (if nothing else but to replace that ciggarette smell from the last resident that’s greeted me since I moved in). I know a bit about herbal health already, but have dealt more with tea and cooking than things like baths or potpourri. It’s pretty fascinating, especially for one whose sense of smell is as weak as mine!
This (my weak sense of smell) is actually something I struggled with in terms of memory, and of course, traumatic memory. From what little I know about the brain, the part for our sense of smell is supposed to be connected directly(?) to the part of the brain for memory, right?
And yet, it’s the sights and sounds that I remember most: when I broke my arm at 8-years-old, what I remember is the sight of my foot getting caught in the bike frame, and that cr-CRACK! when the doctor reset the bone. I don’t remember the smell of the ER, or the asphalt where I fell. I can hear the bike wheel squeaking as it still turned upside down, but don’t remember how it felt as I limped over to it. That’s what made body memories such a shock for me when I first had them.
I find it really weird to be honest. I almost want to say I feel crippled; I’ve read other accounts of people who suffered what I have, and the most they have to say is how they physical felt, the smells that assaulted them. Meanwhile, the things that stood out the most to me were the things I heard and saw, the emotions attached to these things. I am able to associate certain smells with certain places or people (eg. an older friend who smokes a pipe), but I don’t think it’s as strong for me as it is for other victim/survivors.
I wonder if my sense of smell is as bad as it is because I try to block it out to avoid smelling something associated with fear or disgust? Or maybe the thought that it’s subpar comes from mother claiming I’m a “smelly French girl” when I couldn’t smell the offending stink she said she smelled on me at all times? Who knows. The scent of lavender does vaguely remind me of when she made me put lavender oil on my scalp to regrow my “thinning” hair*, but I can push that memory aside pretty easily; I’ve enjoyed it in many times as tea and in soap, thinking instead of pretty flower gardens or teatime with friends, so I guess those positive things I associate it with overpower that bad thing.
*A/N: For a good long time, mother had fussed and fussed and FUSSED over my hair, telling me over and over how I was losing it, claiming to see all these bald spots, etc. Lavender oil was just one of the many things she shoved on my hair to fix it until I finally refused to let her do anything else on my scalp, no matter what horrible things she’d say to shame me for it. I honestly don’t know if what she was saying was true or not, but stress does make you lose hair. It also causes your hair to be more prone to dryness; I heard how dry my hair was all the time whenever I’d get my hair trimmed/cut, but those comments ceased since I left, replaced with comments of how soft and pretty my hair was. What a coinkadink! #sarcasm
I guess friends and good experiences make me feel this way, tying into the above quote (it kept showing up on my feed, so I figured someone up there wants me to think about it, write about it). I think it’s so true for victim/survivors, or really anyone out there, because so many people today seems to have this love starvation going on inside. We try to fill that emptiness with whatever, but it rarely leaves a lasting satisfaction.
That’s how I feel anyways, with the things I turn to. Even the good things I turn to, like friendship and prayer, never seems to stay with me like what Jesus said to the woman at the well about Himself as the water that always satisfies. I got angry, and I wondered what I’m doing wrong. My abusers’ voices would come back, telling me how I’m broken beyond repair, unworthy and what’s more, crippled to the peace and love my chosen family says God’s waiting to give me.
I guess I’m nose-blind to that bouquet He’s offering; I can see the flowers now (friends, nature, church, etc.), but most of the time, I can’t smell their perfume (peace, healing, and love).
I guess there are some things I can do to help take in scents; the most obvious thing I can do, have done, is get closer. The scent of rain on my umbrella wasn’t as strong when it was dry, so I’d sometimes hold it up to my face like a flower to smell it. Meanwhile, while I can’t always smell dry herbs or potpourri very well, the scent of tea reaches my nose pretty easily from the steam.
The conclusion I’m (reluctantly…?) coming to is that I should just get closer and cling to those good things to take them in. Why am I so reluctant? The vulnerability it requires, I guess…the surrender. Women in particular struggle with this want to be in control (though of course men struggle with that, too, I know). They say doctors are the worst patients, and I’d say that while I’m pretty good at giving kindness, I’m not very good at all at receiving kindness.
Is repetition really as effective as my doctor insists it is? Maybe; those abusive words and lessons stuck with repetition. I don’t like that; I hate repetition. It’s such a chore. I usually stick to what I’m good at, what’s easy. I can sing a song I heard only a few times, can likewise play most songs on my lyre much easier than it is to learn how to do more on my violin than squeak out a very scratchy rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I love the violin, but I don’t like squeaking and scratching out notes when I know I can easily sing and strum sweeter sounds. I love my friends, but it’s much easier to let them forget about me, believe they don’t really care, than it is to stay in touch and go out with them.
Love, I think, is a hard thing to practice…but does it mean it’s less worthwhile? Blessed Mother Teresa didn’t think so, from her other more famous words known as “Do It Anyways.” I’m stubborn about a lot of things; why not these things? If I can love the smell of lavender, even with a mother-memory attached to it, why not these things?