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Why Recovering From Trauma Is Like Chasing a Turtle

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There’s a story behind each of my poems. Some are exploring, some are learning more about my journey or about myself, and some are just plain fun and silly! This one falls in the latter category.

I was talking with my support group about how slow this healing journey seems, and I mentioned something like “it feels like I’m chasing a turtle.” One person, knowing how much I love writing poems, said, “You should write a poem about it,” so I did!

Then, after writing it, and reading it to another friend, she said, “I think you’re moving really fast, like a turtle with bunny ears!” I asked her if I could include that idea in the poem, and she said, “Absolutely!” Watch for the bunny ears!

Chasing a Turtle

My recovery process has been so slow
Like chasing a turtle
And it creeps along endlessly
But it’s also unpredictable
It feels so up and down
Good days, bad days
I move a step forwards
Then something happens
And I slide back again
And sometimes those times feel so bad
That I feel like I’m lying on my back
Just like a turtle flipped over
Lying on his shell
Upside down
Unable to turn himself right side up
It’s so frustrating
No – way beyond frustrating
Annoying, irritating, aggravating, exasperating
Feeling like I can’t move at all
Then someone comes along
To help me
They put out their hand
And help me turn over
And help pick me up
I get so relieved
I’m so grateful for their help

So I start moving again
Moving forward in very small steps
But sometimes I feel like I’m standing still
Which is also very exasperating!
I work hard
I ask questions
I look for answers
I study what I need to learn
And at times I get stalled
Because I don’t understand what I’m reading
Or I’ve encountered a difficult concept
Or I’m fighting an idea that I don’t want to accept
At that point I’ve hit a road block
Like when that turtle runs into a snail
And one asks the other
‘Why were you going so fast?’
This is such a silly thought!
How funny!

But I want to change the direction
Of this journey
I want to progress faster!
But I have a friend who looks at me
And she says I’m progressing fast already!
What? Why would you say that?
She says I must have ‘bunny ears’
What? What do you mean?
I guess this is a variation on the story
About the tortoise and the hare
Just think … a turtle with ‘bunny ears’!
Not as fast as a bunny
But faster than that lone turtle
I need to be more patient
With myself and my recovery process
I need to not rush through it like the hare
Chasing for the healing that can’t happen immediately
Trying to make the recovery happen before I’m ready
I need to slow myself down
And be content
With chasing this turtle ahead of me
Who is steadfast and patient
And faces each thing as it comes along
Like that turtle
I need to be patient
Be persistent
Be steady
One step at a time
Healing will come
Recovery will happen

If you too are on a trauma healing journey, visit The Tie Dye poet’s website to see more of her work, and check out her book here.

Originally published: October 12, 2020
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