I’m no expert, but in my experience when you’ve lived through trauma, especially in childhood, it never fully heals. Sure it gets easier, and you find ways to cope and it doesn’t bother you every day, but there will always be triggers you live with for the rest of your life. I had to deal with a major trigger yesterday, and it shook my world. It can be all consuming when something sends you back into your instinctual reactions of fear, pain, and stress. You revert to your survival mode, the tactics that got you through the abuse as a kid. You know the answers of how to get out, yet you fight with yourself to pull out of survival mode and back into life.
Yesterday it felt like the carefully placed bandages on my heart had been ripped off, exposing all the wounds as if they were brand new again. I felt the emotions I grew up with, and remembered why I work so hard every day to outgrow them, and to ensure my kids don’t end up with the same wounds. Not too long ago I remember on days like these asking myself “how do I snap out of this?! What can I do to stop this?” And sure enough, yesterday I did the same thing. Only this time, I was strong enough to remember the answers when I needed them most.
So how does one “snap out of it”? First of all, and this has been hard for me, you need to be patient with yourself. For all those out there supporting someone who has survived trauma, having family and friends who are incredibly patient with you, that allow you to get your emotions out in a safe place is an invaluable gift! You might save a life by gently asking someone you are worried about how they are (I would suggest prayer first, given each individual’s needs and timing is different).
I reached out to family and friends who I knew I could trust, and they helped me through the day. The absolute worst thing you can do is bottle up your emotions and hope they go away (in my experience this leads to extreme depression. don’t do that!) For me, I fight myself tooth and nail to open up to someone about what I’m feeling. I am getting better at it, but it will probably never be my instinctual reaction to say “I’m hurting, and I need to talk to someone”. I had 2 awesome sister-in-laws step up to the plate for me yesterday, they asked and I let them in. And let us not forget my husband, who was the first one I called, who stopped everything at different intervals throughout the day to make sure I was OK.
If you have access to a professional therapist or counselor, call them! Unfortunately at this time I do not have access to that, but that doesn’t mean I am going to give up on everything. I have found other tools that work to get me back in a good place. It’s not impossible to get through this without a professional, though it is always a good idea to have that tool if it’s possible.
Though the day was rough, I made it to bedtime and boy was I ready! I was so ready I almost skipped the most important tool I have for healing. I’ve been studying the Old Testament for a few weeks now, and after my ride on the emotional roller coaster I honestly just didn’t feel like I could. BUT I DID, and I am so glad! When I opened up my study manual, this is what I found:
“Can People be righteous if they live in homes where righteousness is not encouraged or where they are persecuted by their OWN PARENTS for being righteous? If so, what would those people have to do to overcome wicked influences?… Abraham grew up in that very situation.” (Old Testament Seminary student manual)
At a point where I was wondering why I had to relive all of this again, This was the reminder I needed. The reminder that I have a loving Heavenly Father who Knows who I am, and exactly what I need. A reminder that all I have to do is ask, reach out, and he will be there in the exact capacity I need him. I finished my study, knelt down and prayed. This was a very sweet experience. As I asked for the healing power of Jesus Christ’s atonement to heal my wounds, I felt the peace that had been missing all day. I knew that because I asked the most powerful being in existence for help, I was in his care.
For someone who struggles with insomnia, falling asleep quickly after my prayer and sleeping peacefully was no coincidence. When I awoke this morning, I felt whole again. I knew that as I slept, my wounds were tenderly bandaged up again, and I was prepared to take on a brand new day full of great things. I knew my Savior stood beside me, that he watched over me through the night, and that he believes in me.
I know that each time I go through these trigger experiences, I gain strength. I don’t get nearly as depressed as I used to, thanks to proper medication and tools I am able to bounce back stronger than I was before. This is, I believe, the reason why a loving Heavenly Father allows us to experience such awful things. Because he knows if we let him in, the trials will make us stronger and prepare us for what is yet to be.
I am so grateful for this experience (but if you talked to me yesterday that would NOT have been what I said). I know that we all have a loving Savior who is waiting for us to allow him in. He knows what is best for us, though as every parent knows what is best for your children often doesn’t align with what they want. I know that if you put your trust in him and are diligent, you can feel the same peace I do. Though you may have had a different experience that I may not relate to, there is one who does. If you are hurting, please, let him in and give yourself the greatest peace you will ever find. The peace he gives is far better than any peace offered anywhere else.