In the past four weeks, I have been writing on trauma. Find previous post here. Today, I’ll be concluding this topic with the healing process.
Dealing with traumatic experiences can be one of the most difficult things to talk about, as there are no one-style-fits-all approach to how we can actually handle some of our life’s most painful experiences.
And this post isn’t easier for me to write, either. As one who has experienced many traumatic situations myself, I can honestly say it does take time to get over.
The gift of time we have as humans may be one of the most beautiful things we can maximize after a traumatic experience. It can help us with the right perspective of the situation within the space it offers us. It is therefore important that you give yourself the time to heal. The rush to get back to how things were prior to the trauma can be tempting, especially when you are around people who feel you might be taking too much time to get over the situation. Ignore this rush. And as much as possible, do not allow it push you into pretending that you are fine when you are not.
Again, give yourself time to heal. Allow your recovery process. Don’t try to force it upon yourself. The process of healing is the forgiveness process. You can’t force it to happen, neither make it to happen, if there’s no release from within first.
Forgiving your offender in the case of trauma caused by other person is one of your keys to that healing process. In fact, the ability to forgive yourself, and the offender is the assurance that you will be healed from the pain. Healing is almost impossible without the forgiveness of self and the offender.
I understand the sermons many people would preach to you during this time about the need to forgive and let it go. Candidly, that’s true. You should forgive and let it go, since the deed had already been done. However, this should happen from you, not one forced on you. As a counsellor, I allow my clients know reasons they should forgive. Then work through the process with them at their own pace. It is important we do it this way because we don’t want them feeling we are making less of the situation, or mockery of their hurts. I have seen this work faster than the other way round.
Another thing that’s necessary to do is not to ignore how you feel. As a matter of fact, this action of being truthful with yourself about your feelings is probably the prerequisite to your complete healing and forgiveness process.
Because we are often told which feelings are right or wrong, we have that tendency to pretend we don’t have such negative feelings like sadness, anger, and anxieties. Being human, we want to play along with the script that says a merry go round happiness is all we must always have, and when this isn’t our reality, especially after a traumatic experience, we feel frustrated, assuming that we are not good because we experience these emotions. You are not the problem. This narrative may be where the problem lies. All of us go through different kind of emotions. Frankly, this is totally normal. And something we should embrace. Staying with the negative feelings by way of giving so much attention to them that they weigh us down even more is what we shouldn’t allow. And that’s where our will power to fight should come in. but never deny, or try to suppress their existence within you.
We overcome much faster the feelings we admit. Not the ones we pretend about.
A traumatic experience can be quite daunting on the victim. If you have been raped for instance, you may find it hard not to blame yourself. Because some societies even blame the victims of rape. You may hear things about how your inappropriate dressing may have led to such encounter. Or how you were at the wrong place the wrong time. These kind of thoughts can consume the victim through self-condemnation. Even though it is an attempt at making excuses for the offender.
In other words, do not blame yourself for the attack. Neither make yourself feel bad with condemning words about you not being lucky. When you are having such internal conversation, please talk with someone about it. In fact, it is very advisable to keep talking about your internal conversations with someone after a traumatic attack. This may be with a counsellor, a trusted friend or family member. Talking about our feelings can go a long way in helping us reverse the negative thought to more empowering conversations.
When you have done all of these, and you don’t seem to be getting better, don’t panic. You will be alright. Healing is a process, allow it with an open mind. Then take action to get back to your familiar zone, gradually. Start in bits to do one thing you used to do before the attack. Then gradually add more as you progress. But don’t rush it. When you are able to move back to the familiar terrain, you may find yourself forgetting the hurts.
Whatever you do, please be sure that it’s all coming from you and not a pretentious attempt to impress anyone. No one understands the situation more than the victim, which is you. We may be around with our comforting words to help you out because we care, but we are not in any way trying to make you pretend about being fine, if you are not.
But, do NOT intentionally delay your own freedom and healing by being deliberate about not wanting to let go, or dwelling on self-pity. Those attitudes won’t help you in anyway.
You need to understand how important it is that you get your life back, and even better at that. And you should understand that every intentional effort of yours to deny the help being given you by those who love you may make the situation worse than it should be.
To your successfully evolving life.