Life after Trauma

What Trauma Does to You

You turn into a person you don’t recognize, acting in ways you never thought you would act, feeling things you never felt before.

You feel like you’re a foreigner in your own body. You have anxiety attacks. You wake up in a panic. You feel intense emotions at unexpected things.

You’re triggered unexpectedly, and constantly.  

Even though you may find your old self again, trauma permanently changes you.

You lose your optimism, and can’t believe you’ll ever recover and enjoy your life again.

You lose your faith in humanity. You start to think anyone could hurt and harm another … no matter who it is, or how wonderful they seem.

You lose your sense of humour – at least for a while.

Things People don’t ‘get’ about Trauma

You don’t just deal with it, and move on. Everything within you resists recovery – because your brain wants to protect you from being harmed again.

There isn’t an off switch you can use with your reactions. They come out of the blue, and it can take a while to calm down the responses, and to quieten the fears.

This is a game with no rules; you have to go with the flow. Your subconscious holds the reigns. Your conscious mind no longer has control.

You can’t act some part and pretend you’re over it. Trauma is too powerful. It dominates your life.

There is Hope

You can recover and move on, eventually. It takes a lot of work. It takes tenacity. But you can get in touch with your old self again.

There are people who can help, if you look hard enough. But be careful who you tell. Very few will understand. Be persistent, and can looking. It is worth it in the end.

Often, you find a new tribe. A tribe you never knew existed. A tribe you never, ever thought about before. And you’re very, very grateful you have found this tribe.

You develop a much deeper, new respect for yourself, and a fierceness at enforcing healthy boundaries.

Although trauma leaves it mark, there can be payoffs as well. It turns you into someone who can empathize with others. And you can hold out a bright beacon of hope to them, as well.

Each of us heals in our own way.”

– Rachel Remen

How To Quiet The Voice In Our Head After Trauma

The following is a guest post from DiosRaw.com. Please check out her website if you would like to read more of her posts.

After a traumatic experience we can feel like we are going crazy, a weight of devastation presses us down as if the pain will never stop. Trauma impacts everyone in different ways and the symptoms of this trauma can be endless.

Today I am going to offer some tips on ways to quieten the voice in your head after trauma.

What is the voice in your head?

Also referred to as “internal dialogue,” “the voice inside your head,” or an “inner voice,” your internal monologue is the result of certain brain mechanisms that cause you to “hear” yourself talk in your head without actually speaking and forming sounds.

Tips on quieting the inner voice after trauma when it gets too loud:

  • Community. Find a community of people who are going through the same experiences as you who can make you feel understood and not alone. We are primal creatures that need people to bond with. Over and over again, research has found that finding support from others can be a major factor in helping people overcome the negative effects of a traumatic event and PTSD. Having someone you trust that you can talk to can be very helpful for working through stressful situations or for emotional validation.
  • Meditation. The power of meditation thrusts survivors directly into the heart of wounds that often require more than mindful awareness to heal. Yet mindfulness is also a valuable asset for trauma survivors.
  • Yoga. Known to benefit the mind as well as the body, yoga has been proven beneficial for addressing stress, trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction recovery, and even personal growth.
  • Validate Your Experience. What you have experienced is real and distressing. Having the name or context of traumatic stress/PTSD lets you know that how you feel is not your fault. There is nothing “wrong” with you. What you’re going through is actually a normal response to abnormal experiences. It’s important to remind yourself of this as you go through challenging symptoms because self-validation is an important part of healing.
  • Laughter. Humour is medicine, when you laugh you release endorphins which can help smother your pain with a soothing sensation. Laughter boosts your immune system and rewires your brain. Find things that make you laugh, watch a humorous youtube video or talk to the friend that always makes you smile.
  • Focusing on what gives your life meaning. Are you a writer? Write. Are you an artist? Create art. Does bringing up your child give you meaning? Do something fun with your daughter or son. Do you feel you have no meaning in life? Research into spirituality and see what insights you find.
  • Breathing techniques. It may sound unusual, but many people do not breathe properly. Natural breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should fall. Over time, people forget how to breathe this way and instead use their chest and shoulders. This causes short and shallow breaths, which can increase stress and anxiety. Fortunately, it is quite possible to re-learn how to breathe deeply from your diaphragm and help protect yourself from stress. Practice simple deep breathing exercises to improve your breathing and combat anxiety. I use the method of 4-8-4, breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breathe for 8 seconds and then release for 4 seconds and release.
  • Knowing you are not alone. There are millions of us who have gone through traumatic experiences, I am one voice of many. Try and find support groups, like-minded souls and online support to aid you on your healing journey.
  • Nothing lasts forever. Change is the only constant, all things will pass eventually. Time is one of the biggest healers.
  • Self-monitoring. This can be a helpful way of getting a handle on your anxiety symptoms. We are all creatures of habit. We often go about our day without thinking, being unaware of much that goes on around us. This may be useful in some situations, but other times, this lack of awareness may make us feel as though our thoughts and emotions are completely unpredictable and unmanageable. We cannot really address uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety without first being aware of what situations bring up these feelings. Self-monitoring is a simple way of increasing this awareness.
  • Journaling. To cope with and express your thoughts and feelings, journaling (also called expressive writing) can be a good way of coping with anxiety. Expressive writing has been found to improve physical and psychological health. In PTSD in particular, expressive writing has been found to have a number of benefits, including improved coping, post-traumatic growth (the ability to find meaning in and have positive life changes following a traumatic event), and reduced PTSD symptoms of tension and anger. Make use of your suffering and write a masterpiece.
  • Research into spirituality. Start reading up on spirituality, find different concepts and ideas which can help put your trauma into perspective. Having trust in an intelligent universal consciousness helps tremendously.

Thank you all for reading this post; hopefully it helped aid you and filled up your tool kit with coping mechanisms for quieting the voice in your head after trauma. Always remember, you are not alone!

“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” – Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.” – S. Kelley Harrell, Gift of the Dreamtime – Reader’s Companion

Let me know how this post helped you below!

-Amber, diosraw.com

Soul Care

Beautiful girl, take care of yourself. No-one else knows what your soul needs.”

Do you actually know what your soul needs just now?

Really figuring that out, can be difficult at times.

First, we need to find a way to successfully detach from the never-ending list of “must’s”, “ought’s” and  “should’s”.

From being the right partner/ mother/ daughter/ sister/ friend.

From that guilt-inducing list of responsibilities.

And often that can be the hardest part of all.

But you really need to do it.

You need to detach.

You need to make it possible to listen to your heart.

And when you do, you will find that your soul starts to speak. It will start to give you hints. It will tell you what you need.

It might be something very simple. Something small and practical like relaxing on your own. Curled up snuggly with a book.

Or it might be something deeper like the need to mourn and grieve for the heartache, disappointment and the pain that you’ve been through.

Or the need to stop comparing. And the need to like yourself. To work harder on self-love, and being comfortable with you.

But whatever it is … your heart and soul already know.

And they’ll share that secret with you, if you’ll listen carefully.

It’s Good to Talk

Tell your story. Shout it. Write it. Whisper it if you have to. But tell it. Some won’t understand it. Some will outright reject it. But many will thank you for it. And then the most magical thing will happen. One by one, voices will start whispering, “Me, too. ” And your tribe will gather. And you will never feel alone again.”

-L.R. Knost 

Can you imagine how good it would be to be able to talk? To be able to share. To have your pain held – like a scared, tender thing?

Can you picture that?

Can you imagine what it would be like to be understood? To feel understood. To know that you are not the only one. To know that others have walked in your shoes, and experienced what you’ve experienced.

Of course, it can never be exactly the same – because everyone’s experience is different. But something similar enough for them to absolutely get it. Without having to defend yourself, or explain yourself to anyone.

Can you imagine how good that would feel?

Can you imagine how the weight would lift from your shoulders?

Can you imagine the relief? The sense of being able to let go – of all the pain, the heartache, the sorrow, the judgment, the deep, deep disappoint and pain.

Can you imagine what a difference that would make to you?

I hope that you are able to take that first step. To find a way to talk, and to share what you’ve been through.  You owe it to yourself. Your story really should be heard.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” – C.S. Lewis  

My Wish for You …

1. My wish for you is when you wake up feeling blah, you’ll treat yourself with kindness and show yourself compassion. Yes, we know there are some hard things that we always have to do, but perhaps this is a day to slow down, and take it easy.

2. My wish for you is that you won’t just sit and daydream about the different things you could go for, and accomplish. But that you’ll find the strength and courage to step out and take risks … and you’ll set yourself large goals … and you’ll work hard to achieve them.

3. My wish for you is that when the cloud and fog encompass, or when you’re sad and lonely, or you feel you’ve lost your bearings, you’ll reach out for support … and you’ll find your tribe surrounds you.

4. My wish for you is when you feel you have regrets, you won’t let guilt and shame weigh you down, and overwhelm you. You won’t let failure haunt you. Please remember – we’re all human. This doesn’t mean it’s over. You can always start again.

5. My wish for you is when you’re pulled in all directions, you’ll find your inner compass, and you’ll know which way to turn. That you’ll listen to your heart, and be able to determine what’s meaningful for you. What will help fulfill your purpose.

6. My wish for you is that you’ll know which battles matter. That you’ll stay true to yourself in the midst of life’s hard struggles. That you won’t give up the fight, or surrender under pressure. Instead, you’ll rest, regroup, and you’ll stay centred and focused.

7. My wish for you is that you’ll look up at the stars, and be awed and inspired by the vastness all around you. That you’ll hope onto your hope, and you’ll never stop believing that life’s a precious gift, one that’s filled with  love and wonder.

What might boundaries look like to you?

“She set her boundaries and rebuilt her life.”

If you are recovering from betrayal trauma, there are boundaries you will want to put in place. So what might boundaries look like to you? Some suggestions include the following:

  • Having your partner or spouse see a counsellor or therapist?
  • Requiring your partner or spouse to have an accountability partner?
  • You being the one who has administrative rights for the family computer?
  • Having all the passwords to his laptop, phone and devices?
  • Having him remove all dating apps and close down any accounts he has with companies like Ashley Maddison or sex.com?
  • Being able to check messages and texts anytime you want?
  • Having access to all bank accounts – and going through statements together regularly?
  • Going through credit card statements together each month?
  • Having him accountable for his time so you know where he is, who he is with, and what he is doing, anytime you are apart?
  • Having him break all contact with (including ‘unfriending’ on social media) anyone he has had a relationship with (while in a committed relationship with you)?
  • Asking that he tell you if someone from a previous illicit relationship ever tries to contact him again?

They are other boundaries you might want to think about. Some boundaries specific to your relationship.

Also, these boundaries might change as time goes by.

The important thing is – you absolutely need to feel safe. Otherwise a secure trust can never be rebuilt.

So don’t be hesitant to ask for what you want. Having boundaries is crucial when you have been betrayed.

Boundaries are crucial. They are at the heart of every healthy relationships.”

The Painful Art of Letting Go

Fruit drops from the tree when it is ready. Staying too long, or moving too early, misses the mark … The process has its own timing, and it creates changes in your life when those changes need to happen.”

-Gary Zukav

Here are a few thoughts on letting go:

1.Letting go is a process. Yes, it may begin with a decision we make, and often there will be a desire to move on. But that is just the very start of the journey. The road is long and winding, and it’s unpredictable.

2. You can trust the process. You mind knows how to heal and protect itself. Allow it to guide you – though it won’t always make sense. It knows what it is doing; you can trust your intuition.

3. You might feel really bad, and you may struggle to let go. There are reasons why we struggle to let go, and then move on.  It involves some major losses – things we didn’t want to lose.  

4. Celebrate the changes, and the signs that you are healing. It can help if you look back, so you can see how far you’ve come. It can help to motivate you, and inspire you to keep going. 

5. Expect to stand still, and to regress from time to time. This is absolutely normal, and it happens to us all. It is always three steps forward … then a few steps back again. Don’t start to feel discouraged. Just expect that this will happen.

6. If you’re letting go of a relationship, identify the reasons why you feel you must move on. Try to focus on the facts, and not the strong, negative feelings. For example … How were you being treated? What was toxic about that? What do you deserve? What do you need most from a partner?  These can help you to see why it’s better to let go.

7. Make room for something new, or someone new in your life. If you don’t feel you are ready, put this thought on hold for now. But eventually you’ll want to find and have a different future. That future could be better than the life you have at present.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”

 – Joseph Campbell

Taking Care Of Me

“I can cut you off and still love you.

I can stop speaking to you, and still care for you.

I can let you go, and still wish you the best.

If I leave you alone, it’s not to be bitter or petty.

If I leave you alone, it’s for my own good.

If I let you go, it’s so that I can accept still being able to love you

whilst also knowing I can be happy without you.”

These are courageous words.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to withdraw from a relationship. Whether it’s from a partner, a spouse, or a friend … sometimes we just need to walk away.

It can be for a while; it doesn’t have to be forever. But for now, you need your space. You need a boundary in place.

And who really knows want you’ll want later on. It’s much too early to play that guessing game.

Right now, you need the freedom to simply be yourself. To get back in touch with the person you have lost.

You need the room to breathe.

You need the room to just be you.

You are doing what is right: you are taking care of you.