I don’t think there is a single soul on this Earth that isn’t healing something from their past. I’ve had my fair share of traumatic events; starting with abandonment issues as a result of my father’s abusive behavior and unreliable role in my life, or the childhood sexual abuse perpetrated on me by a family member. Let’s not forget the endless mistakes I made throughout my early adulthood because of my unsolved, yet justified self-destructive behavior. Or the greatest trauma of my journey so far: the unexpected death of my son Harry.
I feel lucky to have had a family that loved me the best way they could. I was the second child of a teenage mom, married to a man twice her age. At the age of 16, she was pressured into marrying her first “boyfriend”. By 19, she had two children under the age of 2. Her husband was an abusive alcoholic that caused her so much trauma. She was dealing with unfathomable stress at such a young age, with a nearly non-existent support system. So, I understand why she was far from being the perfect mother to me. I’m not sure anyone on this planet could’ve handled her circumstances any better that her. It was only when I became a mother myself, that I understood how difficult her journey has been. This is why I choose to forgive her for the choices she made that contributed to my trauma, while also aknowledging the pain they have caused. There is no denying the great love we share for one another, but we are simultaneously trying to heal the wounds of the past with love and compassion for ourselves.
My husband often tells me: “I have no idea how you survived your childhood without turning to drugs or something worse”. The truth is that there was always a force inside of me that yearned for stability and happiness. Even at my lowest point, when I wanted nothing more than to die or disappear– I would always arrive back at the same thought: “you do not deserve this life, fight for the life you deserve, do whatever it takes to survive this and find that happiness you so deserve”. I always knew a happier life was there waiting for me, I just had to “find” it.
Everyone’s trauma is different– and you might think that my trauma is greater than yours, or vice versa. But does it matter? It’s still trauma and it still sucks. Your trauma is putting hurdles and roadblocks in your journey in this life, and you deserve to live your best life already. So don’t compare yourself to others and just take the lemons you’ve been given and make those b**ches into the tastiest lemonade you’ve ever had.
Trauma relapse is real…
Anytime I find myself going back to a dark place emotionally, I allow myself to feel those feelings. I remind myself that trauma isn’t something to be ashamed of, that it was not my fault. Shitty things happen to good people, and conversely, good things happen to shitty people. So next time you start to feel sorry for yourself, allow those feelings to travel through you, don’t try to suppress them because they will not just “go away”. Think of yourself as a vessel from which they can pass through you and leave. Sometimes I need to give those feelings a deadline so I can work on rebuilding myself back up. You deserve a good life, your past doesn’t define you! You will get through this!
A therapist once told me that when you become an adult, you have to stop blaming other people for your issues. That was the first time in my life that I had awareness that I had been living my life as a victim. All the people that had caused me trauma, took my power in one way or another. By continuing to blame them for my issues, I allowed them to retain that power over me. This realization ignited something within me to fight and take back my power, and rise again as a survivor.
Life isn’t about fairness, it’s about how you choose to take your experiences (good or bad) and live a life you are proud of. Do I wish that those things didn’t happen? Of course! But since I don’t have a time machine to go back and change my past, the best next thing is to learn and grow from them as best I can. Keep what serves you, process what doesn’t, and leave the waste behind. Otherwise, it becomes dead weight you will carry around forever.
Therapy, that’s what!
I know, it’s not easy to find the right therapist that takes your insurance. It can be expensive and time consuming. It’s also possible that after 5-6 sessions of spilling your heart out to a complete stranger, you might not “click” and have to start over with someone else. You might even have to cycle through several therapists before you get a good one, but the end result will absolutely be worth the journey, trust me!
Finding the right therapist is a lot like dating: it takes work to get to know someone, a lot dates will be a waste of time, but when you find a keeper, it will change your life forever.
Still scared of the idea of opening up to a complete stranger? If your answer is yes, you are completely justified. It’s not something that feels “normal” at all. Sitting in a waiting room, waiting for your turn to talk to someone you’ve never met is traditionally not something our parents walked us through. The stigma behind psychotherapy is real. But therapy isn’t something to be ashamed of, quite the contrary. It shows that you have enough self-awareness to acknowledge that a problem might be out of your scope, and the intelligence to seek professional for help to resolve it or at least gain a better understanding. It’s so hard to see the solution to a problem when you’re stuck in it. Sometimes it takes an unbiased, objective set of eyes to bring clarity to the chaos in your mind. Seeking therapy doesn’t mean you’re broken, it means you’re smart!
My first therapy session was in college. I was 18 and ready to address how the sexual abuse affected my life. My therapist was a young man, not too much older than me– who most likely was a grad student looking to complete his clinical hours. I absolutely didn’t leave that day feeling any better, in fact, I didn’t seek therapy again until after college. But that day I knew I needed to work on my childhood trauma, or it would continue to affect my state of mind and relationships forever. I might not have been ready to dive into psychotherapy then, but I did go straight to Barnes and Noble (this was the pre-Amazon era) and picked up my first self-help book on healing from sexual abuse. This second step allowed me to learn about and work on some things on my own, before peeling into the deeper layers of my trauma with the help of a therapist.
Timing is everything.
Healing takes time. Repairing takes time. This is why you should NOT attach any expectations to the process, especially not a timeline. Healing is a gradual shift. You will make discoveries about yourself as you go. You will unravel the mess slowly, as you repair what you can. Take it one step at a time, sometimes you might go back a few steps but you will always move forward.
I’ve had a dozen therapists in my lifetime. Some have been awful, some have been wonderful. I’ve done one-on-one therapy, group therapy and couples’ therapy– all have served their purpose well. I’ve gone years without seeing a therapist, to seeing one every week if necessary.
In the beginning you might want to see someone with more regularity so you can build a habit, and get to the most inner layers of your trauma. Therapy is a lot like trying a new sport: if you only practice it twice a year– you will probably not see much improvement in your skills. But if you practice it every week for a certain period of time, you will become more agile and you might be able to maintain your skill set with less hours of practice.
I hope this blog post was helpful to you. I want to you to leave this blog knowing that trauma happens to everyone and that you are not alone!
If any of this resonates with you but you’re not sure how to get started, send me an email! I’d love to offer you my non-professional support to get you on the path towards healing your trauma.
Thank you for reading!
❤️ Be Healthy Mami