Trauma: The Road to Recovery

Some facts on recovery from trauma include:

1. We should never downplay the horror of trauma. Trauma is trauma, and its impact is profound … And life after trauma is absolutely awful.

2. Recovering from trauma is slow and difficult. Nothing works for everyone, or every type of trauma. There is no ‘one size fits all’.

3. It is worth trying different types of therapy. If the therapy you try doesn’t really seems to help, then try something else.

4. It is important that we have our story heard. We need to have our suffering witnessed and affirmed. We can’t suppress and hide that kind of intense pain forever.

5. Cognitive approaches are helpful on some level. They can help us to identify unhelpful false beliefs – like “I am worthless”; “I deserve to be rejected.” However, changing core beliefs is often very difficult.  

Thus, although it can be helpful to “see” we’re not to blame, this knowledge in itself doesn’t usually set us free. For example, we might know that a betrayal was not our fault, but we still feel ashamed and inadequate.

6. For healing to occur we need to alter the brain circuits, and scientific evidence appears to indicate that moving the body is often helpful for this. For example, exercise and yoga appear to make a difference.

EMDR and meditation are effective as well.  

(Note: EMDR appear to be more effective at healing trauma associated with ‘single event traumas’ – such as car accidents – and less effective at treating relationship trauma, like domestic violence and betrayal trauma.)   

7. People heal from trauma at very different rates. For some, it is straightforward – when they face what they’ve been through, and get proper support, and find a helpful therapy.

For others, it’s a longer, and a much torturous road. It may take years – or even decades – and they’re triggered constantly. 

8. People have a powerful drive to truly live again, despite being deeply hurt or being profoundly traumatized.  In fact, traumatized often people find unusual ways of carving out a meaningful life for themselves.

Progress. Just make progress. It’s OK to have setbacks … It’s OK to draw a line in the sand and start over again – and again. Just make sure you’re moving the line forward … Take baby steps, but at least take steps that stop you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good.” – Lysa TerKeurst

Where Healing Begins

Sometimes that’s all you need. Someone who gets it. A light in the darkness. Some empathy in a cold world. A little understanding of the chaos inside.” – JmStorm

Isn’t that what we all long for at times.

It hurts to be alone with all the chaos and the pain.

It feels too much to handle, and we don’t know where to turn.

But the kindness of someone who is simply there for us, can make all the difference.

All the difference in the world.

It Isn’t Over Till It’s Over

Four years ago Kelsey didn’t own a bike. She was good at athletics. She loved a heap of sports. But being a cyclist was far from her mind.

In fact, four years ago she was out of job. So, she took anything to escape poverty. She was working spraying weeds in some ditches in Alberta. Yet, Kelsey believed she was destined for more. She dared to believe she could achieve some lofty goal.   

Kelsey started to train, and to get back in shape. She ran in her lunch breaks to build up her strength. After work, in the evenings, she went to the gym. And then she decided to take a huge brave step.

She chose to sign up for RBC Training Ground, a program that’s designed to scout potential talent out.

And today, Kelsey Mitchell’s an Olympic medallist. She won the gold medal in the track cycling race. It took her four short years (and some commitment, of course). Her whole life’s turned around. She’s a woman to watch!  

When life falls apart, and depression hits us hard, it is hard to believe in what seems improbable.

But our life is not over.

There is still cause for hope.

There are good things to come.

Can you hold onto this?

Will you dare to believe you can still have a good life.

This is not how it ends.

I believe it for you.

Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist.  It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness, and into the sunshine.”

How Can I be Sure he isn’t Cheating on me?

Proving a negative is really difficult. And especially if he has deceived you before, and you had no idea he was cheating on you.  

So how do you know if he’s gas lighting you today? Here are some things you should watch out for:

1. He starts to do unpredictable, and unexpected, things. We usually have a pretty good idea of what is normal for our partner and spouse. We know their different patterns. We know their changing moods. We know the way they act, and their likes and dislikes. This means that even a small change could sound a warning bell for us – and especially if the changes start to mount up over time.

For example, changes in how often he’s away from the home. Changes in the effort he puts into his appearance. Changes in the way he seems to use his phone today (perhaps he’s changed his password, and deletes all messages.)  

However, many partners are experienced at keeping up an act, and are great at making sure you don’t know what they are doing.

Note: One in five men has a secret email account they use to hide correspondence from their partner.[1]

2. He’s over-complimentary about your appearance, sense of humour, work achievements and so on. This can happen if he’s trying to throw you off the scent, and it also makes sense if you stop and think about it. If he’s making you look great in the eyes of other people, and it stroking your ego so you feel loved and secure then it’s likely you’ll will be blind to the fact that he is cheating.

Also, if praising you is very out of character for him, then it could be a sign that you need to stay alert. However, there is always the chance that it is genuine as well. Who knows!

3. He appears to be more distant, and less interested in you. You might start to notice that he’s pulling away more, and appears to be more distant from the family in general. You might be getting the sense he doesn’t care about you. This could point to his interest being focused somewhere else. This includes a lack of interest in sex and intimacy.

However, if he’s avoidant anyway, and has generally been poor at being sensitive, caring, understanding, and empathic, you might be hard pressed to notice any change, or difference.

4. He seems to pick more fights with you. This can be driven by feelings of guilt. But sometimes straying partners are more argumentative, sensitive, ill-tempered, and quick to take offense as a ploy to create distance, and throw you off the scent.  Why? It gives him an excuse to disengage, and go elsewhere.

5. He hangs out with friends who have cheated on their partner. Often, we choose friends who have similar values, or will validate our actions and the choices we have made. Of course, we can’t control our friends but it can be an indication of how he regards cheating, or pornography.

Note: Research has shown that nearly 80% of men who cheat have a close friend who cheated[2].

6. You feel unsettled and uneasy. Often, we getting a feeling in our gut when there’s something going on. And a woman’s intuition often senses when he’s lying. He may have covered his tracks well but if your instinct says “watch out” then listen to your instinct – as most often it is right. Take disconcerting feelings and suspicions seriously. You owe it to yourself to check out sinister feelings.



Ditching the Emotional Baggage

“Ditch your emotional baggage, and just be.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it. And, honestly, isn’t that what we’d all love to do. But these peoples don’t go on to lay out a plan of how you can quickly to get rid of the baggage.

Because there is no easy way. It doesn’t happen “just like that”.

You’re dealing with layers in the subconscious mind.  

You’re dealing with what feels like a mystery. For the reactions you have are often shocking and surprising. They seem to defy reason. They feel outside your control.

And learning what they mean, and how to heal, and then move on, is a massive exercise. It can take you years and years.

So the next time you hear something trite and superficial … Give yourself a break. And don’t pressurize yourself. You’ve probably come further that you realize right now.   

And if your mind and your will want to get free, and to heal, you can trust your heart to lead you.

It is going to take you there.     

The Kindness Cure

So many people are hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Treat people with kindness. You could be that thread.”

– Unknown

On the day she learned about her husband’s affair, Sajna told no-one. She told no-one at all. In fact, Sajna kept the secret to herself for several weeks.

And for those weeks she would awaken in a state of shock at night. The pain was unbelievable. It cut her like a knife. She simply couldn’t process what had happened to her life.

And in the day, she paced the streets with wet tears running down her cheeks. Her world – an utter mess. She didn’t recognize herself.

She also felt alone for no-one knew her life had changed. She couldn’t share the pain for who would understand, or care?

But – a woman on her street would always smile when she walked by. She’d often stop and talk. Exchange some simple pleasantries. They talked about the kids … the weather … normal, mundane stuff.  A neighbour who was kind; someone who held an outstretched hand

That gentle kindness showed that Sajna mattered, after all.  That someone noticed her. That someone valued who she was.

We never really know the good we do by being kind.

But, it can be profound.

Kindness can change a person’s life.  

Kindness (Noun): Someone who brings warmth and value to somebody with no expectation in return.”  

Quote of the Day

The most beautiful people I have ever met are the ones who always see life in full colour. They are the ones who have been through hell and back and still stop to savour the parts of life that many seldom pay attention to … These are the people I admire most because, no matter how much they have suffered, they will always find a reason to make the best of this imperfect world.” – Karen Baquiran

Often those who have suffered the most have the most beautiful character.

They know what matters, and they know what is fluff.

They are also understanding and compassionate.

They are deep – not superficial – and they live in the now.

And they know how fragile our relationships can be.

So they appreciate and savour all the gifts this moment gives.

And they always see the beauty, and they search to find the good.   

Ask Us: Why Can’t I Forgive?

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.“– C.S. Lewis

In this post we will briefly answer a question that was asked by one of our clients. Here is today’s question:

“I recently learned that my husband had been unfaithful to me. When it came to light, he was totally repentant and remorseful about the whole thing. He says it is over. It is in the past. It is something that will never happen again. The problem is, I can’t forgive him, and just move on. No matter how much he wants me to do that. I want to believe him, but how can I believe him? There are days when I look at him and think to myself: “I will never, ever trust a word you say again.”

I’m constantly triggered and have panic attacks. I also find myself going over and over everything he said, and everything that happened. How can you forgive when you’re dealing with all this?”

It sounds like you have been through a lot, and may currently be dealing with PTSD. I would also say it is understandable that you feel it’s very hard to forgive right now.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this …

1. The fact that you are triggered, and you keep remembering things, and the fact that it is so hard to let go of what has happened, are signs that you have started to look out for yourself.

These are healthy signs of appropriate self-protection. It’s absolutely right that you listen to concerns and make sure your safety and protection come first. This leads me to point no2.

2. Through these instinctive reactions, your subconscious mind is saying: “You need to be more careful, and you need to stay alert. You could be badly hurt again if you forgive, and just move on. You need to pay attention. You don’t want to be naive.”

If he was willing to betray you and deceive you in the past, of course he could betray you and deceive you again. Words count for nothing in this kind of situation. To trust, you’re going to need substantial evidence.

3. This resistance to forgive is an act of pure self-love For your subconscious mind and core self are telling you:

I care about what happens, and I’m looking out for you. I am watching to make sure that no-one ever hurts or harms you. I’ll always be there for you. I won’t abandon you.

These 3 points indicate your mind is trying to protect you. And by rushing to forgive we do ourselves a great disservice.

For now, forget forgiveness. You are processing a trauma.

And processing that trauma must take priority.

I Love Life

Sometimes, I have been desperate and despairing.

Sometimes, sorrow and grief have filled my heart.

There have been times when it all has felt too much.

When I’ve felt so lost, and hopeless, abandoned and alone.

Sometimes, I didn’t want to wake up in the morning.

I couldn’t face the struggle; I had zero energy.

Yet through it all I knew it was worth the fight and tussle.

And I wanted to keep living

Because life is beautiful.  

Some Thoughts on Finding Hope

I was shocked and traumatized by the news I received. For a while I couldn’t function. I could barely survive. But I held on hard to hope – for without it: “What’s the point?”  And there had to be a point, or you give into despair.

When I look back on the time, I can see the steps I took that helped me to stay strong, and which helped me find this hope. And perhaps there’s something here that will work for you, too:

1. Keep doing the same normal, routine things you’ve always done. You’ll have zero energy, and often doing the next thing will feel like an achievement. An impossible task. However, if you can still meet with a friend for a short walk once a week, or buy some groceries, or go and wash your car, there will be some things in life that still feels predictable. And “the same old” really matters when you’ve been traumatized.

2. Don’t hide yourself away; don’t isolate yourself. Yes, you need to be quite careful about who you spend time with. Also, you must be careful about who you share stuff with. Not everyone trustworthy, or will be there for you. Still, we need to be with people, even if we wear a mask. There is something to be gained just being in the world.

3. Do something that’s meaningful to you. That’s meaningful to you, and not to anybody else. Not because you feel you ought to, or because it’s meant to help. You do it just because it makes you feel a little better. Because it’s a distraction, and it’s what you need right now.

4. Look back to see where things have worked out in the past for you. Right now, you’re going to feel as if the whole of life’s gone wrong. Like everything a failure, and has been a waste of time. But that isn’t true. There have been times when things worked out. Try hard to find those times. Try really to seek them out. You need find exceptions to inspire you to go on.

5. Remind yourself that there are no grades in life. Your life is not a score card.  It is about experiences. And how you deal with everything that life has thrown at you. It’s how those things have changed you. What you learned and how you grew. It’s how you were courageous, and fought hard, and persevered. It’s how it made you human, and much more compassionate. It’s how it gave you depth, and gave you greater empathy.

6. Remember the people who matter to you. For me, it was my kids. I wanted to be strong for them. I didn’t want to burden them, or add to their heartaches.  I wanted to be someone who would model “Don’t give up. For you are a survivor. Please believe ‘there’s always hope.’”

“Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness and into the sunshine.”