The process of healing

This is from a new blog I stumbled across, Perspective on Trauma. The post is called One step at a time! .

Recovery from trauma and loss is a process. There is no exact path or perfect recipe. There is a process. That process is unique to you and laden with your own memories, thoughts, feelings, and specific needs. It is this process (your process) in which you will build new perspective about you, your history, your beliefs, and your future. It won’t be easy. I promise it will be hard. But, I promise it will be worth it. Keeping working your process (whatever it may be). One day you will see your own innate worth.

This made me think about my own process. Of where I started, and where I am now. It made me think of where I am going, and how I really have no idea where that is. And how I’m surprisingly okay with that.

I think it’s interesting that the author describes the process of healing from trauma as building a new perspective. I feel like my perspective has shifted so many, many times since beginning therapy, it’s almost unreal. It’s something I’ve actually thought about a lot, and have even said to Hubby, that I feel like things have changed. But it’s nothing I can really explain, or at least, not easily explain.

I started therapy with no intention of ever facing my childhood sexual abuse. In my mind, it was a game, I was as responsible as he was, it didn’t matter how I really felt about the situation; it was nothing, and it would never be talked about. The only way to stay safe was to keep those memories and feelings locked up, and buried, so they would never see the light of day. And then it happened. In addressing a much later trauma, a violent realationship, my therapist said something that made me think she might understand my childhood. My perspective changed. I asked questions, and she answered them. Her answers gave me courage to talk, to tell what was locked up and buried. My perspective changed again, it seemed that it was safe to tell my story and not just ask hypothetical questions and discuss a hypothetical little girl.

It’s been about 6 months since I started therapy, and a lot has changed. My outsides maybe haven’t changed much, I don’t know. But inside, I notice a difference in how I see things and think about things. From not being able to even think about things as more than a game, as something that was fun– there were times when Bea would tell me I sounded or looked scared, and I would insist it had just been a fun, secret game, nothing scary– to now being able to name what happened as sexual abuse and even think, at least once in a while, that he is at least partly responsible, at least somewhat at fault, my perspective has changed a great deal. From not being able to imagine telling my husband the truth about my past, to having him know and being grateful that he finally does know, my perspective has definitely changed. There are many more of these concrete type examples, things I thought I would never do, or talk about, or say, that I am now starting to do.

The harder thing to describe, for me, is how I feel. I wasn’t unhappy before I started therapy; I had a lovely life, a great husband, a beautiful daughter, the opportunity to stay home with my daughter, loving and supportive family and friends, classes and activities to fill my days, and I had recently become passionate and involved in autism insurance reform. I wasn’t just moping around, depressed and not living life. I was, however, locked in my head. So much of life, I wasn’t exactly living because I was missing out on feeling it, on having emotions, on being truly present in the moment and connected with the people in my life. I cycled through good days and bad days. I struggled to sleep, and had nightmares that left me feeling like I had been torn open. I needed to be in control of every little thing in order to feel safe. I didn’t trust anyone to do things “right” or to really be there for me, not even my husband. I was terrified of not being perfect. I had a box of bad memories– feelings, thoughts, triggers, pictures, physical memories, and regular memories– that was locked up and buried, and was never supposed to see the light of day. Yet it was leaking everywhere; panic attacks, insomnia, outbursts of anger, what I now know are flashbacks, and so much more.

Now, I sleep sometimes. I have a nightmare strategy which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. I’m not locked in my head anymore; or at least not all the time. I feel my body, and I feel my emotions. I’m learning it’s okay to not be perfect. I’m still terrified of the idea of not being perfect, but I’m learning it’s okay. I have moments where I am present, and grounded in the here and now. I have emotional connections with people; I might break them because they frighten me, but I can always reconnect. I have coping methods that aren’t harmful to me; I may not choose to use them, but I have them and I use them sometimes.

I’m more real now. More authentic. I don’t want to live my life behind a mask of perfect, a facade built to trick people into believing I have it all together. I want to be honest and real and true.

I guess the biggest change is that the facade has cracked, and the real Alice is starting to emerge. I’m nowhere near done healing. I still have a lot to work through. But I think that this healing thing is working, things are changing; I can see and feel those changes. There are days now where I think it’s going to be okay, I’m going to be okay.

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