It may seem that it takes a lifetime to heal the effect of the traumatic events in your life. For some that may be the case. However, I would like to suggest that whilst it feels that way, perhaps you may have healed and now need ways to manage your life while accepting that trauma was part of your life – once. The most important lesson I learned about my trauma, ironically from a therapist I really didn’t like, is that life is happening right now. Not ten or twenty years ago. This second is the reality of what is happening. Sometimes when we have worked on ourselves for a long time, we get used to living in our feelings and sometimes our problems. Don’t get me wrong, working through your issues and feeling and facing every emotion is absolutely necessary for healing. But it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Eventually, practicing the tools we have been given to flourish in our lives have to be put into practice. Here are some ways in which I cope on the daily to manage my trauma symptoms.
Managing My Triggers:
Huge one for me! Anything can trigger a trauma response, from smells, noise, a word, it depends for me. When that happens I can literally feel myself jump out of my body to stay safe. Or at least I used to. Staying present and bringing my attention to the safety of my internal self snaps me back into reality. Breath work and movement are also hugely important for me to make sure that my energy isn’t stagnant. Daily practice is best because it’s easier to maintain than to fix.
My therapist calls it self witnessing, but I prefer to say self observation. It took me a while to even realize I can do this. It’s almost like self-parenting for me. It’s like the adult me is looking out for the child me. The adult me can observe the reactions of the child me and settles little Nicky back to a calm state. Much like I can observe the reactions of my children and step in when needed I can now also do it for myself. I can take the little me by the hand and lead her away from what she deems traumatic. It’s the most effective way for me to get to know my patterns and behaviors and I have become unreactive to a lot of my past trauma memories.
Cleaning Up My Self Talk:
Again I need little Nicky to get this right. I am an expert at putting myself down and often catch myself talking negatively to myself in my thoughts. My go too’s are stupid, fat, ugly, incompetent, nobody likes you. I could write another essay on why those particular put downs are present in my brain, but that’s not necessary. Would I say those things to another little girl, or my own children? No absolutely not and nor would I say them to another adult. Flipping the put downs to encouragement was hard for me. Afterall, we are supposed to respond better to punishment and discipline, right? Well obviously not or none of us would be traumatized.
Say No Followed By:
I always read about the importance of being able to say no, but for me to accept and understand something I need context. Like No – I do not want to – or – No I am not going etc. You get what I mean. It probably sounds stupid but that’s just how my brain works. Saying no takes practice and it takes even more practice to get used to the uncomfortable feeling of not being nice. We all want to be nice and seen as a good person. However, I’ve found that saying no regularly makes you like yourself more so being seen as nice by others isn’t that important anymore.
I haven’t been in therapy for quite some time now. I’m grateful for that but I did the hard work and I am reaping the benefits. By no means is my life easy and flowing smoothly. Hell no! It’s as bumpy and choppy as ever, but my trauma isn’t getting in the way of me having health reactions and responding appropriately. I’m also fully aware that in the future, other stuff may come up that I need to deal with and back to therapy I shall go. For right now though, I’m good.