How My Loved Ones Act as 'Mirrors' in My PTSD Recovery

This past year has been a time of change. Some of it wonderful, healing, inspirational. Some of it sad, disappointing, shocking, leaving me stunned. That’s the beauty of understanding impermanence. Things change, everything changes and we change with it. Sometimes it’s been easy to let go of things, with a nod to the experience, and other times, it takes me months to process, understand and accept. Sometimes the changes have been quite personal, other times on a national or global level.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned the past year is to acknowledge the mirrors in my life. Sometimes these mirrors were the ones that ripped the mask off and exposed the person I didn’t want to be. Discontented, bitchy, clinging to things that no longer serve me or trying to please people who try to control me, leaving me feeling less worthy.

The other mirrors, the ones I gravitate towards the most are the ones who reflect back who I want to be, who I am without any masks. The person I have been working hard to become, losing the shame, the perfection, letting go of the control and coming from a place of love and altruism. Both of these mirrors have been important in my life.

Another most important mirror I need in my life is the mirror that reflects my struggle with healing from trauma. Sometimes the loneliness and pain from managing my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms feel unbearable. I ask myself, what am I doing and why?

I have to watch that I don’t go down the slippery slope of denial and convince myself that my life was easy when I had my memories repressed. I was living an inauthentic and never allowing myself to be vulnerable life. It was awful, I was miserable on the inside. The only thing a mirror reflected back at that time was fear, shame, terror and a vague sense of invisibility.

Now that I live more authentically and allow myself to be vulnerable, I’m happier with the kinds of relationships I have in my life. I no longer surround myself with people who want me to act a certain way, act accordingly, hide any emotion except happiness. I have kept some wonderful stood-the-test-of time relationships and formed new ones who are my mirrors, and I am theirs. It’s reciprocal and that brings a feeling of contentedness.

Some days, its still a lot easier for me to be someone’s mirror, than to accept the goodness they reflect back to me. But I’m working on it.

When I get down, and the exhaustion of healing begins to get the best of me, I stop and acknowledge the wonderful mirrors in my life.

When I need reassurance in those really, really bad moments, I ask,  “What am I doing?” and hear mirrored back to me, “Healing.”

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Unsplash photo via Alessio Lin

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