After a traumatic life event
How do you heal from traumatic life events? You start to wonder if it’s even possible or where to start. You wonder if you’ll ever be happy again. Most people are not strangers to trauma. Whether it is the death of a child, escaping a house fire, being sexually assaulted, having the one you love the most abuse you, or something else, many people have experienced trauma. After a trauma, we think it’s impossible that our life will ever be the same. And honestly, it probably will never be like it used to be. Trauma changes a person. So how do you look to the future and find your new path?
After a traumatic event, most people’s initial response is to go into survival mode. Coping mechanisms are used to get through one day to the next. Not enjoying life but surviving. Recovering from a traumatic event that happens to us as a child is even more difficult as our childhoods are what prepare us for adulthood. So we carry that pain with us into our adult life and often never realize the impact it has had on our lives until as adults our problems cause us to seek therapy. We are each on our own personal journey and we choose the path we take. You might not have been able to stop the traumatic event from happening to you; however, you can choose to break the hold it has over you. When we hang onto grief or anger and let it control our life, we give our power away. Choosing to forgive does not mean what someone did to you was okay. Choosing to work to find happiness again does not mean that you are lessening what happened to you. It means you are willing to work through difficulties and learn how to adapt to a new life. You will never be able to go back and you will never be the same. You have wounds and you have scars. But those scars have purpose and meaning and you can use those scars to empower your life. Once we reach the point that we can confront our feelings and start to work our way through the pain, we can once again feel in control of our life.
There are stages in healing from trauma just like stages of grief. Nobody moves through the stages in the same way or in the same timeframe. You may feel you have moved forward and then you experience a trigger and find yourself back at step one. Some people find healing in expressing themselves through art or music. Some prefer to talk it out in a trusted support group. Everyone is different and nobody’s road is easy but it’s worth it. Eventually, if you are willing to confront and work through your anger, grief, and loss you can find your new future. There is power and freedom in healing and choosing to not be defined by what happened to you, but instead choosing to embrace yourself.
Liz Rae sums it up by saying, “While you may feel like you are the only one who has been through what you have, you are not alone in your experiences. Healing involves learning how to connect, how to inspire, and how to still hope for a better world. Learning to love yourself after trauma is learning that you are still everything that makes this world good.”
If you have experienced trauma from sexual assault or domestic violence, we are here to help. Contact Crisis Services of North Alabama’s Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 or you may reach a trained crisis counselor at our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000. We offer free and confidential services to survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual assault. Reach out today. You are not alone.