I begged God to kill me that night. I was laying on my parents’ couch ringing in the New Year and wishing for an end. Seeing trauma and abuse for what it is, comes and goes in waves. Like healing. Healing from trauma is not easy. It’s challenging to disentangle yourself from traumatic events and abusive relationships but not impossible. Many who end up in relationships with narcissists, for example, come to see the patterns that kept them hooked began within their own family or circle of friends. Being a highly sensitive and empathetic person can make you more attractive to individuals healing from trauma, even their own. The highs and lows of an emotionally and mentally debilitating relationship affects everything from your self-worth to your work productivity.
At times family, good friends, and beloved ones may not understand your healing process. The lingering effects of trauma helped me renew my faith and commit to a life with Jehovah. It has come with its challenges. Overcoming PTSD, releasing feelings of unworthiness and letting the cycle go happen slowly. Relationships, in general, are challenging, and overcoming abuse – whether physical, emotional, verbal or sexual – will not be any different.
But there is hope.
The first and hardest step is to recognize the trauma and abuse. Seeing it for what it is will take listening to your own intuition and feelings. Over time, the patterns will become apparent. Acknowledging and accepting the events that brought on the pain will mean creating distance between yourself and the individuals involved. If it’s a family member, this can be a challenge because as a society we’re taught familial ties are sacred. Figuring out how to best protect yourself and your mental health will be a continuous process. There have been a number of things that have helped me in this journey and I hope will help you bring peace back into your life too.
Pray, pray, pray
If there’s anything that has pulled me through, it’s been prayer. My relationship with God has been a blessing in my life and has kept my spirits up in times when I thought I could not go on any longer. If you’re new to prayer, there are a number of scriptures within the Bible that can be encouraging in times of difficulty. The book of Psalm, for example, is full of encouraging verses. Psalm 138:3 reads, “On the day I called, you answered me; You made me bold and strong.” Aside from turning to the Bible for encouragement, learning to pray from the heart can also help. When praying, think of your conversation with God like a conversation with a friend. You can be honest about what you’re dealing with and what you hope to see happen. Jehovah appreciates the love and honesty and he listens. Over time, you’ll be surprised to see how things are resolved. Creating a prayer routine first thing in the morning and last thing at night can give you the spiritual nourishment to take on another day.
Find your spiritual community
Surrounding yourself with a positive, uplifting and loving community can provide you with strength and peace of mind. Your community may not know what you’re going through, and even if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it you can be encouraged that you have a community that cares for you, and welcomes you with open arms. Being surrounded by others of faith has helped turn around some of my most challenging days. As a result of community, I’ve felt more confident in using my voice and sticking up for myself. Finding your own tribe and people to turn to can help accelerate your healing as well.
Listen to calming music
Or recite affirmations. Trauma and the lingering effects of abuse can lodge itself deep into our bones, living in our subconscious for years and causing us to play out the same patterns over and over… and over. After that New Year’s night, I realized there was a lot of self-hatred I needed to eradicate within myself. I struggled with thinking I deserved to be treated in a disrespectful and unloving manner.
These kinds of thoughts and feelings can take years to overcome, and music is a very soothing way to heal those subconscious limiting beliefs. YouTube is full of music! From classical music to jazz playlists that you can listen to while working, studying, or even driving Reciting affirmations can also help when healing from trauma. They’re so powerful and can help you train your mind to focus on the positive life you desire and see for yourself.
Do something you love
Getting up and out of bed is probably the last thing someone in a depressive or post-traumatic state wants to do. If you can’t out of bed without bursting into tears or feeling intense physical pressure then your body is telling you, you need a break.
In this day and age where we’re always on, we don’t often make time to just let everything go, and focus on our needs. Bills require our attention, that client from yesterday is still waiting for you to email them back, and “time is money.” Yeah, I get it. But aren’t you and your life just as precious as those temporary problems? So pick one thing, one thing that you really enjoy doing and let that motivate you to get up. It could be something creative like starting a business or working on a passion project. Healing from trauma requires gifting yourself the space to work through fogs and blocks so you can return with a strong frame of mind.
Get out in nature
Can I just tell y’all? Bugs and me… were not friends. Growing up, I’d squirm at the sight of an ant crawling up my leg. (Okay… so maybe I still do. LOL) Recently though, I’ve come to enjoy sitting in the grass or spending time near the water. Nature is full of serenity. Full of life and energy. Watch the way the leaves sway with a cool breeze, or how a dog bounces alongside its master. Surrounding yourself with nature can help take your mind off the challenges you’re currently experiencing and instead give you positive moments of reflection.
Sweat it out
It’s true what the wellness experts say about exercise and depression. Because of the endorphins, getting your body moving can be the 1-2-soccer punch your feelings need to take a hike. After a long hiatus, I’ve finally begun strapping my running shoes back on and pulling the yoga mat out! It’s something I’d been affirming for months, and finally found the courage to add back into my life. You can do this slowly at first. Dancing in your living room to your favorite jam, or taking a brisk walk during lunch time. Over time, your body will thank you and even begin to ask you for more.
Read uplifting texts
The Year of Yes, The Four Agreements, The Artist’s Way… all of these texts were so powerful in helping me regain balance on this journey. Self-help tends to get a pretty bad rep. Though it’s incredibly important for us to learn how to honestly help ourselves. Especially since others may not often know how to help us, despite wanting to or their best efforts to try. Finding books and texts that are positive, and can provide insightful guidance can help ease that feeling of being in it alone. It can also provide you with strategies that you may not have previously thought of. One of my favorite practices, which came from reading Latham Thomas’s book “Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living” was a dream jar! Every night, before I went to bed, I would write down one dream or affirmation. “I am joyful. Good things are coming. I matter.” Etc. Every morning during my meditation, I would pull one out and focus on visualizing it. What it felt like, looked like, sounded like. Small practices like this can be found in a wide range of nourishing reads.
Give yourself… time…
Finally, the hardest one of them all. Time. If you’re anything like me, you want to heal now. Actually, yesterday would’ve been best considering your packed schedule. :-p True healing is a spiral though. The further we move away from the pain, the hurt and the experience the more intensely we may feel it later when some of those feelings get dug up. Giving yourself time means understanding the triggers.
Healing from trauma and abuse may find you questioning every time someone shows affection towards you because you’re wondering if there’s an expectation you’ll need to fulfill or if it’s truly unconditional. Coming to see those patterns clearly will take honest introspection, and the willingness to sit with those challenging emotions. As they say “you repeat, what you don’t heal.” So don’t be angry, or upset or in any way frustrated with yourself if 6 months, a year, even 2 years you’re still grappling with the challenges of abuse. Be gentle with yourself, and question where those emotions are coming from to get true closure.
Are you currently in or healing from trauma, an abusive relationship or a painful situation?
Whether it be romantic, friendship or familial – I pray the practices above while help you find peace and encouragement. Most of all I pray you reach out and find support. Often times the first things to go in an abusive situation is our sense of self-worth and security. In my road to recovery, I have found each day gets a little bit better. I find I have a lot more mental clarity and am able to better focus on or manage my day.
While this can take months of pushing out of your comfort zone and actively fighting the will to give up, it will be encouraging to see positive changes happening in and around you. It will be encouraging to once again have hope and to believe in a better tomorrow. At times we all just need someone to be there and I hope if you ever need a friend, you can find one in me.
I’d love to hear from you. Tell me in the comments:
When healing from trauma, what 3 practices or resources have helped you?
Your recovery may just be what someone else needs to hear to find peace today. I love you all. <3
Forever Yours, 💞