HOW I HEALED FROM TRAUMA
Crawling out of my dark side, the side that experienced sexual abuse, rape, and even prostitution, was no easy task. The thing that stands out the most in helping me was taking responsibility. For me, this meant letting go of my victim mentality. We can’t hold onto anger, resentment, or the desire for revenge. These emotions do nothing to the abusers, and they do everything to harm us.
One of the most significant assaults I’ve experienced was being raped at the age of ten by a sixteen-year-old boy. I write about this experience in my book (to be published at the end of this year!), and I give a broader and more detailed version there. Needless to say, it changed my world. I was already quite broken at the time of the assault, but it definitely caused a deepening of my emotional wreckage. As an adult, I looked back and hated him: I wanted to find some way to ruin his life.
In reality, it was only deepening my pain to maintain that hatred and desire for revenge. It kept a black cloud over my head and didn’t have any effect on him. I was still seeing myself as a victim, and as long as I maintained that mindset, I was not going to be the best version of myself.
It took me YEARS of therapy to finally see my self-worth. I never realized that was my problem. I thought I was confident: I had been successful in sports, home-birthed my kids, started several small businesses on my own, and married a great guy. I had no clue that I didn’t feel worthy of love and respect and that it was because of all of the traumatic experiences I’d had. When my therapist said it to me straight, “you have low self-worth,” I finally felt that I could start to fix it. I couldn’t change anything that had happened to me, but I could change how I viewed and accepted myself.
It wasn’t easy to do, and I had fought many internal battles. I had to constantly check-in with my husband and close friends for reassurance. I had to ask them, oh- so-vulnerably, “Am I nice? Am I enough? Am I smart?” As I write this, it seems that those answers should be obvious to the asker, but when you have been traumatized, they really aren’t. I needed these constant reassurances until slowly I started to believe it myself. Now I can check in with myself for the answer, and it’s always a good one. The old me would have torn herself to shreds with the negativity.
Once we own our voice and step into our power, healing becomes a reality. If you can find a supportive group of people who are on the same journey as yourself, the healing can be amplified. I was truly blessed to get into a women’s group that really lifted me up: we lifted each other up. I had such a meaningful connection and experience with it that a few of us continued on to start our own group.
I would also highly recommend writing. A diary or journal to place my daily thoughts in was an excellent tool for me to start getting the shit out of my head. It took me over a year to get into a regular habit of it, so don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t feel great in the beginning. Eventually, those writings became a book, as I mentioned earlier. I started writing these blogs to get the courage to publish the book. I needed to get used to my voice on paper and put it out there in the world!
We have to find a way to forgive ourselves. I’ve found that this was when I was able to forgive my abusers. If we can’t love and accept ourselves, how can we expect to offer forgiveness to anyone else? If we get stuck on this step, we can’t fully move forward. That dark cloud will keep reappearing and stealing our happiness. Finally, after everything, I deserve to be happy. I can honestly now say that I am. After all of that pain and suffering, the sun is finally coming out. If you’re stuck at any point on your healing journey, I encourage you to reach out and find support. There are excellent services out there, we just have to be open to trying them.