THE TROUBLE WITH TRAUMA
As a person who has experienced a lot of trauma in her life, I can tell you it gets easier, most of the time. I live my life full of joy and gratitude and feel blessed to have come as far as I dreamt I would. Due to both Jon and I needing to recover from a substantial amount of past stress, we designed our life to be as low-stress as possible. This makes day-to-day life much more manageable.
However, the trouble with trauma is that no matter how much work we do, there will always be a tender spot. For me, there are times I’m flying on top of the world, and I feel like I finally have it all figured out. Then suddenly, I wake up one day, and I have anxiety that I can’t pinpoint, chest pains, and panic that I’m missing something or won’t get enough done. That inner child wound of not being good enough or loved enough is so deep; it lies dormant waiting to rise up to let me know it’s still there.
I’ve had so many sad days in my life that when this sadness kicks in at a time when my world is full of so many blessings, it’s very difficult for me to accept and tolerate. I have to repeat affirmation statements to myself to help this process. Here’s what I say, and if you ever feel this way, I encourage you to try them yourself: “Of course you will have sad days, you have experienced a lot of trauma in your life. This is completely normal, and you can take it as a sign to rest and practice self-acceptance.” I will repeat this to myself throughout the day, and it really helps me to accept those lower vibrations.
When I experience these low vibrations, I tend to pick myself apart. I go to physical features the fastest, and I will place judgment on my appearance. Then I'll start to pick apart my goals and become negative about the effort and energy I’m putting into these plans and projects. This is all a trauma response. I know that I designed this behaviour to protect myself in the past. I had everything set up so that no one could hurt or disappoint me, including myself.
Erasing, or flipping, a trauma response is a real challenge. It takes years, and possibly a lifetime of consistent positive self-talk, self-care, and self-acceptance. I find it mind-blowing that even though I intellectually know that I’m a good person, I can still get triggered into a mild depression.
I’m writing this in December, and I was telling my husband this morning that I’m feeling down, and I believe the time of year is a part of it. We started heading away at Christmas years ago because the holidays triggered me so deeply. I would find myself turning into an anxious wreck the entire month; even medication wasn’t controlling it. Being away for us is an escape from the stress of the holidays. Starting a new tradition in our family has not only been fun but also very empowering. I believe that this season still pushes my buttons and reminds me that I need to continue to be gentle with myself. I encourage others that may be feeling this way during the holidays to reach out and connect with friends who help lift your spirits. It’s also really important to protect your energy from people that may bring you down and limit contact with them when you’re feeling vulnerable.
If you have experienced trauma and haven’t received professional help, I highly recommend you seek out a referral for a good therapist. Remember, baby steps turn into miles over time.