Where am I in June 2022?
Nearly 4 years into doing the really hard work of trauma recovery, this month I’m looking back. It’s like I was a different person then. Still, I remember the emotional pain and all the thoughts and feelings experienced. For example, I recall the frustration because I felt silenced too often in my life. Therefore, during these last 4 years – I strongly felt the need to purge – to just tell and tell and tell again what I went through, sharing how the traumatizations impacted my life and how the absence of empathy from certain ones caused further pain. My silence was over. It was a way to process and name my experiences, which opened the door to healing, for self-acceptance and self-forgiveness.
Clearly this *telling my story* is a normal and necessary part of trauma recovery. Telling gifts the survivor validation. Telling is healing. Survivors of abuse need to talk, and they need empathetic witnesses to listen. Therefore I often say to others: “I hear you.” Being in this place wasn’t fun at all. I really had no idea what the road to trauma recovery would look like and be like. There were so many unknowns then. I had faith in neuroplasticity though and that is what kept me moving forward.
As a recap, with trauma education, lived experience in childhood/developmental trauma and all that comes with it, this following list is some of what I needed to gain clarity on, or adopt, process, understand and if needed, let go of: trauma bonding, enabling, emotional literacy, emotional intelligence, grooming, FFFF – Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn responses, attunement, emotional dysregulation, social anxiety, anxiety, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-worth, inner peace, spirituality, mindfulness, suicidal ideation, self-compassion, religious abuse, support, listening to understand, receiving and providing Trauma Recovery Coaching and facilitating TRC in 1:1 & Groups, blogging, vlogging, DARVO, workshops, gaslighting, poly-vagal theory, IFS modality, EMDR, EFT, counselling/therapy, advocating, validating, emotional flashbacks, terror, healthy pride, self-love, healthy boundaries, healthy and toxic shame, and more…. I understand myself a whole lot better now and have a more balanced understanding, empathy, and compassion for others and self, plus … a trauma-informed vocabulary. 😊
Childhood Trauma Recovery is an ongoing journey. When ready, the body will bring to the fore some memories to process and detox. This work no longer frightens nor intimidates. The uncomfortable feelings or memories are allowed to be. The more that’s allowed with compassionate curiosity, the faster they leave. I’ve accepted the truth in what we resist persists. Naming what happened makes the trauma lose its power – name it to tame it. What is new now is waking up with emotional flashbacks in the way of dreams. While upsetting I’ve learned to let these feelings exist, appreciate what they’re telling me and understanding this is another way my body is detoxing the trauma.
Trauma Recovery Orbit – at the core is / are the traumatizing e-vent[s] and as each orbit takes its turn [this is life happening] and upsetting sit-uations occur, one may go back to similar old feelings and angst. The cool thing is that one is never back at the original pain level. Each trigger felt has less and less impact. Over time trauma memories become benign. Life, as we know it, will always present social/emotional challenges. Yet with the nervous system healing, with the brain rewiring itself, blended with unconditional love, acceptance and support, these challenges are embraced with greater ease. Homeostasis happens quicker. Between each revisit there is more time. Each spiral orbit is bigger, encompassing more time.
For me, processing memories or feelings involves allowing these to surface and be curious about them. Being still, allowing self to sit with and lean into without judgement – this enables accelerated healing. I assess and determine what the memories are. I pray about it, determine what part of the event[s] are mine and what aren’t, then mentally put the shame onto the shoulders of where it rightfully belongs. I own my part and no more. Here is the Accountability stage. I am now at the place where I openly acknowledge and own my part in decisions made. And this no longer feeds the warped and toxic shame monster who’s been following me around for decades. Thankfully this unwarranted / toxic shame has been kicked down to a manageable size. I have gotten used to being in the ventral vagal place – homeostasis.
I do this processing when pleasant feelings arise too. For instance, I didn’t know what it felt like to feel respected and unconditionally loved so whenever I was praised, complimented, or listened to with respect, this was new to me. In the past none of these niceties landed in my heart, all compliments were quickly dismissed. Healing means I’ve learned to sit with the uncomfortableness of the emotions that admiration and respect evoke – I lean into these emotions and feelings. Doing this rewires the brain and allows the nervous system to get used to new healthier emotions and feelings. In time the sluffing off or dismissing the compliments stop. Thankfully with healing, I learn how to get back the feelings of being respected and having self-respect. 😊
Healthy shame was/is behind some good choices too. For instance, I am open to listening to my sons if they want to share what their childhood was like living with me – the behaviours I manifested due to my own unprocessed trauma and while mis-medicated, and all that came with it. It’s painful yet necessary for their own healing. I own my part, I apologize, I listen, cry silently then thank and commend them for their courage to tell. Validation is super important for healing. I have felt the guilt and have apologized. This processing and releasing aids in healing. I recall what it feels like to not receive validation nor witness heartfelt remorse by my perpetrators so I will not do that to others.
Previously, toxic Shame had too much power. I now observe how it impacts others. I see it manifest in so many ways and gone is the urge to explain myself [fight response]. Emotional distance aka healthy boundaries is crucial for my nervous system’s continual healing. While I understand where unhealthy behaviours come from it’s not okay to allow myself to be mistreated – to have others’ shame thrown onto me. I won’t wear it. Healthy Boundaries are super important. Each time I talk to God about it the answer is the same – ‘stay away and let them do their own work; ensure your own peace.’ Shame binds to nearly every feeling if we let it. I refuse to let it have power anymore. And this feels marvelous! Had no idea how liberating it would feel to not carry toxic shame.
This is a big part of the FREEDOM that Trauma Recovery provides. And until I began to have moments of being shackle-free, I had no idea how much life had been lived in chains, had no idea how much I struggled just to survive. I had no idea how much pain I was in nor that shame was usually in the driver’s seat of life. I thought this was normal for everyone. To be able to feel happy emotions and not go into dissociative states is such a triumph. Now THIS is thriving!
Evidence! Recently my eldest son was married. He married overseas and with COVID, it was wiser to be on the Zoom side of the event. To be able to be moved with tears of joy and feel my deep love and pride for him is such a beautiful blessing to experience. To tell him with happy tears how proud I am of him, how much I love him and how happy I am for him was a gift to him and me – he too was moved to tears. I know that a few years ago this couldn’t have happened. To be in the space and place where authenticity and being fully present lives is truly one of the best gifts that trauma recovery has to offer. For those who have never experienced such intense inter and intrapersonal connection, this may sound foreign. Let me say that being able to feel whole within, connected within is something to highly value.
THIS – the authenticity and mindfulness are some of the silver linings that come from all the hard work of self-examination, self-acceptance, leaning into emotions, addressing, learning, transforming, healing, processing, releasing, and gaining confidence – all this has been worth the work. Yes, every single tear, outcry and pain has been worth the effort. I don’t think there is anything more courageous than facing the *demons* of Childhood trauma.
As said in a previous blog, Trauma Recovery is like Emotional Physiotherapy. Childhood Trauma survivors need to learn how to address and accept the traumas [the injuries], develop the right emotional muscles to live life with greater ease, flexibility, movement, and confidence. We need to learn healthful coping strategies for managing whatever lies ahead, instead of doing the avoidance dance. The result? Joy, freedom, authenticity, confidence, connection, healthy relationships, happiness, calm, inner peace, and so much more. Having a peer to peer coaching relationship with a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach [CTRC] provides the right support.
I wish for you, the reader, to continue with your own trauma recovery process. Please don’t give up. The feelings and the amazing life that awaits you is well worth every step taken along the way. You Matter.
If you seek further support in the final leg of your recovery journey, please reach out to me.
I see you, I hear you, I care.