Healing from Trauma

I’ve been thinking recently about how I view trauma. Growing up I always viewed trauma as something that victims of domestic violence or veterans of war exclusively experienced. I would use this definition to tell myself that whatever I was experiencing or had experienced wasn’t that bad. It’s only recently that I’ve started re-examining events that have impacted me and whether they could be traumatic. This is work I’ve been doing with a therapist st, which has been extremely helpful. Definitions of trauma vary based on the website I looked at. The definition that explains it the best in my opinion describes emotional and psychological trauma as something that shatters your sense of security and makes you feel helpless in a dangerous world. While trauma often includes a direct threat, any situation that leaves one feeling overwhelmed and isolated can lead to trauma. The article goes on to describe how trauma is subjective, not objective. What is traumatic for one person might not be traumatic for another. One of the biggest lessons I learned in behavioral health hospitals is that there is no point in comparing suffering. 

Burying trauma I’ve experienced has proved to be inefficient. While I do eat feeling intense emotions that I deem negative, I have learned that if i ignore them, they pop out at the most inopportune times. It’s not going to be fun at the moment to process those emotions and it will be even less pleasant if I bury what I am feeling and have experienced. I still want to bury my emotions and I’m having to practice not burying what I feel. One of the aspects I’m just starting to work on is how I view what I have experienced and being kinder to myself. Reframing those experiences is essential to giving me grace. 

I have a bad habit of blaming myself for circumstances and situations out of my control. I carry the guilt that I’m not able to alleviate the suffering of those around me. I remember vividly what it’s like to have no relief when going through pain and distress. I’ve taken to writing letters to my past selves or people in my past. It helps me to get everything out on paper and to release the emotions that have been pent up for months or years. I never send these letters and I don’t go back and read them at a later date. They serve as final closure and help me to move forward. If writing letters isn’t your thing, I would recommend creating artwork or expressing emotions in another meaningful way. 

While releasing stress and finding peace is possible, I sometimes have to repeatedly walk through difficult emotions and let go of the baggage I am carrying. Certain situations can bring those emotions and fear back. When this happens, I do my best to take time away from whatever I find triggering to connect with my body. I tell myself I’m not in the same situation that I felt unsafe, isolated, and overwhelmed in. I make a list of what in my life is different and the coping mechanisms I have if I end up in a similar situation again. This has helped me find peace.

I hope one day I’m not scared of feeling the full range of my emotions and I can process them in a healthy and holistic way each time. 

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