I was reading through Facebook last night and noticed that a person in one of my support groups asked (I’m changing the words a little here to preserve privacy) “How do I heal from severe trauma?” It seems like such a simple question, and one might assume that it deserves a simple, straightforward answer. But the truth is that there is nothing simple or straightforward about healing from complex and severe forms of trauma. Each survivor has his or her own way of doing it, and it’s usually multifaceted. I can tell you, though, about what I’ve done.
For me to begin to heal from what I’ve gone through, I’ve had to learn and feel a lot. I’ve had to learn and research, for example, what abuse is and what it looks like, so that not only can I learn about my own triggers and why things trigger me, but also so that I can stay away from abusive and toxic people who would be a detriment to my life and my healing process. I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries and how to communicate in a healthy way with other people. I’ve learned how to feel my sometimes strong emotions without having a panic attack. I’ve learned how to deal with flashbacks and repressed memories without panicking, self harming, or doing other destructive forms of coping. I’ve learned how not to rely on food for comfort.
I think another important part of healing for me too is discovering and learning about how the abuse has affected me and continues to affect me into adulthood, and what traits I myself have taken on that might be toxic due to the abuse, and then changing those traits. For example, I never learned how to communicate well, especially in regards to my emotions and setting boundaries. During my healing process I am learning how to do that.
Then, of course, I’ve had to go through a grieving process which has been really difficult. I’ve gone through the five stages of grief and learned how to live life with these emotions.
I’ve also learned how to practice self care and self love and really appreciate myself and my life.
I’ve also accepted that I have PTSD, trauma, and Dissociative Identity Disorder, and am learning how to be accepting of my other parts/alters, and how to communicate with them.
For me, too, I’ve fought hard to get the right diagnoses for my mental and physical illnesses, and to accept that I have these diagnoses and find out how they affect my daily life.
I also think that an important part of healing, too, is simply finding things that I enjoy. For example, I’ve found that I really love yoga and other forms of exercise. I also love training dogs and cats, and of course, writing. I think that in order to really heal from trauma, that one has to find joy in his or her life in some way.
And lastly, feeling safe is really important to healing. I can’t heal if I don’t feel safe in the environment that I’m in. It’s taken me years to fully feel safe because I had to leave situations and people who were toxic to me. But today I feel safe for the most part. The only times I don’t is if I see or talk to one of my abusers, or am really triggered (or of course, am faced with a toxic person).
But even while writing this, I realize that this all sounds way more simple than it really is. Because healing is not simple at all, and it takes time and energy to do it. I’ve been on my healing journey since 2015 and finally feel like I’m over the discovery phase, if that makes sense.
So, I’ll continue to try to do my best in healing. And remember, each person’s journey is his or her own.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.