“Trauma shatters our most basic assumptions about ourselves, other people and the world: ‘Life is good; I can trust other people; my partner cares about me; I do not need to fear.’ These are replaced by thoughts and feelings like: ‘There is no-one who is safe; it is stupid to trust others; I need to take care of myself for the world is dangerous.”
Healing from trauma is a long, laborious process. It takes much longer than we want it to take. And if you’re on this journey, then I hope the points below will be a help and comfort as you navigate your way.
1. Accept all your emotions. Emotions simply are. Do not judge them as being right or wrong.
2. Expect to experience intense emotions. Expect to experience turbulent emotions. Expect to experience unwanted emotions.
3. Expect everything in life to feel chaotic. And even when you’re on an even keel again, expect the chaos to frequently return.
4. Allow yourself to mourn for the multitude of losses. And expect new losses to come to the forefront … Sometimes it will feel like the grief will never end.
5. Trauma destroys our sense of control – of our feelings, our reactions, other people, our life, and of our sense of safety and security. Desperately needing to regain some control doesn’t mean we’re a control freak. It’s normal, and it’s healthy.
6. Being hypervigilant becomes a way of life. We don’t know who to trust. We can’t tell what could go wrong. So we need stay alert, and are always on our guard.
7. Numbing our emotions is a means of self-protection. You find it hard to feel. There’s a deadness deep inside.
8. Forgive yourself for things you did in order to survive. For any shocking ugliness you’ve now seen in yourself. For wishes and reactions that are out of character. These aren’t the real you; they’re signs that you’ve been traumatized.
9. Work hard on developing and showing self-acceptance, self-kindness, self-compassion, understanding and self love.
10. It’s impossible to hurry up, or force, the healing process. It follows its own course, and takes however long it takes. But hang in there, keep hoping. You are starting to heal.
“I promise you, little by little, the healing adds up.”