Natural Valium

We all have emotional pain. Things happen, feelings overwhelm, mistrust of our ability to cope arrives and we are coaxed to divert, bury and avoid so others find it easier to be with us and we continue to function as we must. I learnt as a child to use nature to soothe myself and unlearnt it as a young adult when chemical prescriptions were offered as the answer. Pustulent eruptions of unexpressed pain, anger, sadness and grief broke through the chemical numbness to inflict physical pain as my body screamed for emotional relief. More pretty pills prescribed by well meaning doctors failed to halt the demise of a body at war with itself. I needed soothing, I needed safety and I needed to let go of the biggest pustule of all; the pain from childhood.
As I child I ran to the creek and sat with my back against the huge trunk of an old peppercorn tree. Magic happened in that tree. My imagination transported me to a whole other world where beautiful colours burst out of everywhere, sparkling dust wove ribbons through the skies and laughter lifted me into the clouds. I rolled around in paint pots of colour, flowers all around me in fields of rainbow blended softness. Birds danced on sunny air cushions and happy dogs bounded all over me with love. This magical place of imagination fed me with feelings of love and acceptance. I could be anyone, I could do anything there. I let myself fly. Eventually I would have to return to the place that made me want to run; that not so nurturing place. In my mind though, I could be at the tree in my magic world. I developed resilience in being able to generate good feelings within me, enough to balance the pain so I didn’t break.
When I was 5 we moved to the city and there was no creek or peppercorns I could find. Our house was surrounded by lawn or dirt and a single young tree was stuck out in the front lawn all alone. I didn’t find soothing there, I didn’t feel safe enough to disappear in my imagination. Worse things started happening to me, I learnt to feel helpless and fearful. I longed for my creek and the dirt road that led to it. I longed for my imagination to transport me. Hopelessness painted brown gardens with toasty, water starved neglect. I searched for tiny patches of green and in those, looked for minute signs of thriving life. Nature had transported me before, it could again.
On special weekends we were packed up with a picnic and barely contained excitement fuelled the drive to the national park. I found a creek, pebbles and rocks breaking the water into foamy pools of spongy air bubbles. The big old trees smelt different on a hot day. Still, caves of shrubby foliage wrapped me in soothing and I could disappear with my imagination again. Those trips were rare but so very precious. Not enough, the bad enveloped the good and down I went. I unlearned the escape hatch of nature and learnt to  get sick instead. My connection to nature gave me love, not human love but other-worldliness love. Love that made me feel I belonged, accepted, that gave me strength. Without the regular nature connection that I could take myself to, I lost my source of love. Do you see? A tree by a creek with some wildness enabled a child to connect to an independent source of love and resilience grew. Take the tree and the ability to get to the tree away, implant the nature connected child into concreted suburbia and illness began. Please understand the power of this, acknowledge the places in nature that let your imagination fly.
There is so much to share of this journey of connection back to nature and healing. It is growing into a book and little windows from there will find their way here. Know this: from the pain wracked pill numbed girl drowning in a roller coaster of emotional tidal waves, I am blossoming. No longer ill, now resilient and choosing to confront emotional pain as it comes, I am thriving on the natural valium of nature. It is nature we must fight for, in all the peppercorn tree hanging over a creek with bluebell carpet kind of ways we can find. It can be created or found, either way it becomes a place of healing. A vivid imagination will not come from the unimaginative convenience of concrete.