The 5-Word Sentence I’m Dealing With in Trauma Therapy
Many hiccups come with working through trauma, including days where I don’t want to get out of bed, but I decide to. Whether my goal for the day is a laundry list of errands or simply to take care of myself, I always set a goal. This is what continues to motivate me — taking everything day by day because that’s all I can do at this point. This means attending weekly eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy sessions, monthly psychiatrist visits, and each day taking care of myself. In the beginning, it was hard to accept I need time to focus on myself. Hard to accept that I currently cannot work, therefore help provide for my household. For many weeks I felt like a burden, taking advantage of those closest to me by not being able to “contribute.”
Through many nights of reflection and many conversations with my therapist and family members, I have realized I was never going to be able to fully “contribute.” I was miserable, terrified of lots of situations, avoiding my fear like clockwork. I was living in my personal nightmares each day. Don’t get me wrong — not every day was bad. Some days, the “symptoms” would seem to disappear. I later realized this only happened on days I was avoiding, therefore feeding into my fears.
I would never be able to be the best version of myself until I took the time to take control of my past. Though I know nothing can change the past — I fully realize that — I can change how I perceive the past. I can change how it affects me, and that’s what I am focusing on. I’m changing my perception, my personal view of the situations that haunted me. Not trying to understand them necessarily, only understanding that it doesn’t need to affect my daily life.
The past is the past.
I am still trying to accept that simple five-word sentence. How we perceive the past in relation to trauma is up to a simple response of fight or flight. Whether we defended ourselves, and how we are dealing with that, whether we endured, ran or stayed silent and now we are dealing with that.
Whether you chose fight or flight, your choice was the best option for you at the time. It is now a matter of accepting the choices we made, not the situation itself. In my opinion, there is no solution to the past or to solving the past that involves other people. All you can change is your view of the past, and accept that it is the past. For me, yes, it is taking months of extremely difficult work. I will admit there are more bad days than good, but I am doing it now for the next 50 years of my life. I know that if I can do this in ways recommended by the professionals — in many views, the hard way — then this year may be hard, but the next 50 years will be easier than the past 22, give or take. I have hope, which is the best and sometimes the most unnerving feeling you can have. I am vulnerable, and with that comes fear. What if all this is for nothing? What if nothing changes? That fear is simply focused on whether or not I put in the work to change. All I can hope for at this time is that I can heal the wounds. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comes with many of them, as well as triggers. These triggers are the part impacting my daily life, and what EMDR therapy is focused on.
From a few months of this treatment, my triggers are getting slightly better. It is difficult, yes, but on days I am not in therapy, I find myself being triggered less. For the most part, there are obviously days when they completely control me. Slowly but surely, though, they are getting better.
All I can hope for is healing, and I hope that for anyone struggling as well. I hope that by hearing some of my story, it will encourage another person to get the help they need. I know it’s not full of sunshine and rainbows but it is a positive story. Struggling every day because of your past is wasted potential of a great life, and everyone deserves a great life. If anything I said in this post resonated with you, please reach out to someone in your community. There are so many people you can talk to, and it’s so worth it.
A version of this article was previously published on teeupformentalhealth.com
Photo by Thomas Griesbeck on Unsplash