Finding the Positive Side of PTSD: Awareness, Love and Connection
I spent much of my healing aware of the havoc that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can wreak on a life. Insomnia, anxiety, acting out and hurting myself were just a few of the things I worked so hard to heal from. At the other end of all the healing, I’ve found there are some blessings to be had as well. It took a long time to get here, but I’ve found I live with a greater degree of awareness about the world, a large capacity for love and a deeper connection to the spiritual side of life than I had before the trauma.
When I was first traumatized, the world became very bright as if I’d been pierced by a thousand needles and had thumbtacks mixed in with the blood in my veins. All colors were technicolor. All noises were loud. I noticed more than I had before. Before the trauma, the world had existed in one bland, continuous season, amorphous and undefined. The pain of the trauma set my world alight.
It hurt, but at the other end of healing, it no longer hurts, and the world is still full of color, depth and nuance.
Though I now consider myself largely healed and functional, I still see all the intricacies of the world I was awakened to post-trauma. I notice more. I see more of the people around me, and I can see more of the world, glasses off, fully awake. Before, it was tinged with pain and loss. Now, from a healed and whole place, it is full of concern, love and awareness that things aren’t always as they seem.
My trauma swung the pendulum so far into pain that healing has allowed it swing that much further into love. The space the pain carved out in me was so large that I am left with more space for love in its absence. A heart stretched so large into sadness can never become its original size again, but it can learn to find love in the places where pain formerly reigned. It takes time to let the light in — time and trust — but when it happens, there is so much room that needs so much light.
“When the physical world doesn’t take care of you, the spiritual world does,” the shaman told me during our first visit. I had initially made an appointment with him because I had begun seeing things: I saw a light that spoke to me, I started having premonitions in dreams, and I felt angelic guidance, to name just a few. In the world I had been raised in, all of these things were cause for concern. In the world that helped me heal, these were spiritual occurrences that I believe were entirely “normal,” helpful, and fine.
I thought I was going “crazy,” but I believe I was just getting spiritual. The shaman, and other healers I worked with, helped me to see that sometimes, our spiritual abilities are enhanced when we live in a painful physical reality. In truth, I believe we all have these spiritual abilities, but they become dull from disuse. Trauma and healing from trauma had heightened my spiritual sense; I just needed to learn to access it in a healthy way, that benefited my life and the lives of those around me.
Healing took me on a journey beyond what I considered possible. The trauma and its aftermath were painful — enormously so. My whole world died, along with my heart. But with courage to heal, it was not all bad in the end. I get a bright world, a great capacity for love, and I believe I can see a typically unseen side of life. For these things I am grateful. I can’t say it made the pain worth it, per se, but it did make it meaningful.
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Thinkstock photo via hobo_018