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The 'Scary' Truth About Life After Trauma

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Where do I begin?

Who do I turn to?

Where do I look?

What now?

These are often questions that linger around trauma.

• What is PTSD?

You see, facing the world after trauma is pretty terrifying. It’s hard. It is so unbelievably hard. It’s scary and most of the time, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s like you’re walking on a million little egg shells trying to navigate your next step and even then, you don’t know where to go. You see, navigating your world after something so awful happens to you is debilitating. Its takes your breath away and in most cases, it doesn’t come back for a long time. It makes your heart ache continuously. It’s confusing. It is so confusing. You find yourself longing for routine, for all things familiar because nothing about this trauma is familiar. You find yourself longing for things you never thought possible. You find yourself longing for stillness yet you hate everything about being alone. Dear God, please don’t leave me alone. You find yourself wanting to be around people, yet you long to be alone because nothing is making sense. Talking hurts. It sucks the life out of you. But please talk to me. Don’t leave me alone with my thoughts. Your thoughts will often get the best of you and some days they will win. The things you once liked you now hate and the things you once hated you now want and yearn for. You see, nothing about trauma is easy. You hear things you never thought you’d hear. Words are spoken over you that you never dreamed of hearing but it happens and the worlds keeps going, it keeps moving. And then there’s you.. stuck in a world you no longer know. Stuck in a world you’re no longer familiar with. It’s you against the world. Now where do you go..?

Some days, life after trauma is hard. It’s downright hard and you know what? It’s OK that it is. It’s OK that it’s hard. You can’t expect this process and transition to be easy. Some days, life after trauma will be a breeze and that’s OK too. Soak it up. Be thankful for those days. Some days you will cry more often than not and that’s OK. Accept it and breathe through it. Sometimes you will have more bad days than good day and that’s OK, too. It’s to be expected. Some days will be a repeat of the day before and it will be frustrating and overwhelming at times, but don’t fight. Let it happen. There will be moments where you find yourself wishing for days where life wasn’t so difficult. There will be moments when anything and everything makes you mad and leaves you feeling exhausted. There will be moments where certain words will trigger memories and send you over the edge. There will be moments when shame is so unbelievably strong that you won’t be able to get out of bed. There will be nights where all you can do is toss and turn and plea with the sleep gods for a few moments of peaceful rest. There will be moments where all you want to do is run and spend your day wishfully thinking how much different you envisioned your life to be. And there will be people who just don’t get it. Know that it’s OK to feel these things. It’s OK to feel sad, and overwhelmed. It’s OK to feel confused. It’s OK to cry and be angry. It’s OK to feel misunderstood and hate it. Its OK to want to be alone with your thoughts. And it’s also OK to run from them when you can’t handle them at the moment. This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop. And it’s OK to just be.

And when you’re ready to face the chaos of what trauma brings, expect that this process will take time. Expect things to change quickly and painfully slow. Expect tears of joys and tears of sorrow. Expect stillness and stagnant moments where nothing happens. Expect seasons of change. It’s OK that this process takes times. People will tell you that your healing process has a time limit. It doesn’t. Don’t listen to them. There’s a lot going inside of you and it can’t all change at once. As scary and hard as this process is, be open to change. I plead with you, stay put, and ride the wave of healing. It’s not easy and it will continue to get harder before it gets easier, but please don’t run. Stay put with arms open wide ready to receive. Don’t give up. When things get hard, breathe. I mean it, take a deep a breath and breathe. Remember that you’re going to make it. I promise. keep going, keep moving, keep breathing, keep believing. Keep pressing forward. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Remember to give yourself some grace as this process can be grueling at times. And please remember there is hope. You are not ruined. You are not damaged goods. You are beautiful. You are loved. There is hope. And you will rise above this.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Unsplash photo via Olivia Snow

Originally published: January 4, 2018
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