Healing is not a destination, depending on one’s reaction to trauma. Mind you, NOT the amount of trauma. Healing can be a lifestyle. It can be something you have to dance with every day, or some days, or monthly and seasonally…
When something “comes up for me,” I remember something or I get triggered. I may recognize what’s going on, and choose to put that in a compartment in my head so that I can take care of what I’m doing in that moment. If I’m in a group setting, I don’t need to sound some sort of loud horn and bring everybody’s attention to my trigger!
My painful memory or trigger isn’t for everybody else’s consumption, nor is it necessarily the people that I’m around in that moment’s job to be my therapist!
My top priority is to take care of myself and make sure that I am safe.
My next priority is to prioritize.
Is what’s happening to me right now something that I can take care of at the end of the day? Do I need to use my lunch hour to call someone? Do I need to leave the environment that I’m in, go somewhere else, and handle what’s happening to me right now?
I need to step back from the emotion of it and evaluate it from a higher place within myself. This is a learnable skill that one can master over time and practice!
Usually what’s happening is a shadow is coming up to the light, if you will, to be healed. It’s not real. It’s a memory, and that memory is creating emotion. That emotion is causing consequences or physical reactions in the body.
Let me give you a real life example:
My father has been dead for 35 years. A few years before he died, he was divorced. After he was divorced, I chose to live with him because I was the oldest and a caretaker.
He decided that it would be OK if he sexually pursued me. Which should explain why my periods of running away went from days to weeks to months away from home. Hello!?
I will never forget the morning that my father told me he heard that I was good at oral sex and that I didn’t need to have intercourse with him. But since my mom was gone, he would appreciate it if I would take care of “my old man.”
In all my years of intense therapy, it never occurred to me or anyone else to ask…Who told my dad that I was good at oral sex?
Then one day, while I was making breakfast for my family in an unprovoked moment, that very question and it’s answer came to me in a flash!
My uncle, the convicted sex offender and one of my many perpetrators, must have told my dad. Then all of a sudden it made perfect sense!!!
My incest US uncle from my mother’s side was giving incest jewel advice to my father regarding how to be sexual with me. This is all coming to me while I’m scrambling eggs.
Holy shit! Puzzle pieces to that particular chapter all came together and it was clear to me. I fly it deep inside.
So what do I do? Raise my glass of orange juice and toast to universal healing?!
My family is having a wonderful breakfast, people are laughing and complementing each other, it’s a “Leave it to Beaver morning, and what do I do with this information and these feelings? Should I share this with my family before everybody goes off on their day?
Sometimes it’s better to leave your shit in the bathroom and not bring it to the kitchen table.
I take this revelation. I thank mother-father God for another opportunity to heal at a deeper level.
I put it in a little box in my head that I absolutely will take care of later. It is imperative that when things come up, you absolutely take care of them at the first appropriate opportunity.
I finished making breakfast. I asked each person what I could do to serve them that day, and then when everyone had left the house, I called my shrink.
Then I called a confidant. Then I rearranged my day so that it could be as slow and gentle as possible. I know myself very well, I know that it would not be a good day for me to stress myself out in anyway, i.e., stay out of crowds, and stay out of situations that are going to be stressful if I have any control over that.
Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we get triggered and we have a big meeting that we can’t reschedule. Then we have to put our big girl panties on and do what needs to be done. But as soon as you can, do what you need to do to take good care of yourself. Here’s why…
The indicator for healing, at least for me, is when things that used to trigger me or send me over the edge or cause a big emotional response – no longer does. How I went from something that sent me over the edge to something that doesn’t freak me out at all is dealing with it when it comes up…every time it comes up!!!
I had a young woman ask me if I knew of a method that she could use to force herself to remember chapters of her childhood that she has no recollection of.
I told her, and I will tell you. You will never remember anything that you aren’t capable of dealing with because you are remembering something that should tell you that you can handle it. Every time something comes up and you remember something, then this is the time to deal with it from a loving compassionate strategic way.
Just like levels of physical pain, you go from a ten to a nine, then eight…and then one day something that used to upset you will happen, and you will be delightfully surprised that you’re at one!! Wahooo!
This is the way of life for survivors.