Why I'm Still Choosing to Work on Healing My Trauma During COVID-19
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
A couple of years ago I made a decision to leave an abusive relationship with my three sons in hand. This was one of the most traumatizing moments in my life, and it nearly destroyed my mental health. Thankfully, I had ventured back into the importance of healing our trauma, as I am a military sexual trauma survivor and did a lot of work healing my sexual trauma.
After nearly a year, I am able to sit down and do something I love: encouraging others to keep going despite what is going on around us. Through all of this, I never expected 2020 to be one of the hardest, yet grounding years in my life.
In March, we all woke up to a new reality with the COVID-19, which changed everything we know about viruses. As if that wasn’t enough for our world, we as a nation watched police officers kill George Floyd on national television, which led many to the streets for weeks and weeks of protesting despite COVID being so virulent and present.
All of these changes really led me to begin to work more intentionally on my mental health as well as my sons’. While I still have a long way to go, I am dealing with life on a day-to-day basis. I am choosing to still find ways to heal my trauma through this pandemic and the rest of what is happening in America by involving myself in three key areas:
1. Reaching out to my community
I started educating others about domestic violence and the impact that it has on many of us as survivors, especially mothers with kids. I reached out to others who were hurting and just asked if I could be their friend, or if they needed me to listen. I was intentional about the listening part, because domestic abuse survivors are oftentimes invalidated, and I just wanted someone to know I believed them and didn’t have any reason not to. Listening to someone and letting them cry did help, and made me feel less alone. I do have boundaries, and encourage everyone to know what those are before really trying to help someone. I know what my triggers are –usually — so I am able to do this work. Still, it can get tiring at times.
2. Talking to my kids about their emotions and mental health
I had no choice but to be a homeschooling mother again. I did it for about five years when my sons were younger, so this really made me sit back and look around at the future of my children and how them being at home has impacted me as well. I started to tell them about my own healing journey and let them know this is a good time to take a mental break while we are dealing with the pandemic. I am encouraging them to take a look at their own emotions, so they can begin to critically think it is good for their mental health.
3. Advocating for marginalized youth
Lastly, I am an indigenous social justice advocate, so when I saw protests in my local city, I took my mask and went out to the streets to seek justice. During this time, I met many lonely young adults and teens who are hurting and trying to understand what is happening in their worlds now. Many of them don’t have mentors in their lives or positive encouragement to keep going. So I listen to them as well. I don’t have all the answers for them, and they are well aware life is messy and that it can get hard. I let them know it is OK not to be OK, and I advocate for them to utilize free mental health resources.
Encouraging people brings me joy because I know what it is like to feel so alone, so I try my best to do that for others. I am human though too, and recharge my battery by practically self-care. Then, I go out again and encourage someone. During this time, it can be as simple as sending a text, writing a letter, sending a card, joining an online group to help others and choosing to be an intentional person who is around for those who may need a friend.
Regardless of what you decide will help heal your trauma, I hope I was able to inspire you to take care of your mental health through these unprecedented times. Your emotions and your mental health matter — always.
What steps are you taking to address and heal personal trauma during COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below.