Trauma robs us of our sense of safety. Safety is everything to those of us who are trauma survivors. The sense of feeling at ease and secure with ourselves, that we’re our own best friend and have our own back. Feeling no threat from anything, any one, or any place outside of our selves.
Our sense of safety is intimately linked with our sense of connectedness: to not only our self, and to significant people, places and things in our life, but to the natural and cosmological worlds that surround us as well.
This loss of connectedness that trauma interrupts can leave us feeling lost, alone and isolated.
In isolation however, there can be some security. The kind of security that comes from having control over our own space, of who or what comes into it, or goes out of it, what we do or don’t do when we’re there.
But . . .
and here’s the but . . .
while we can control our external environment through isolation, can we really control our internal environment when we’ve been traumatized?
In a word, no . . . in the sense its neurological effects take on a life their own. And I might add these neurological effects are natural to mammals that have been traumatized in the wild. They’re built into the mammals’ nervous system’s hard wiring for the purpose of survival. Things like fight, flight, freeze or seek protection modes of response to a traumatic event, help to keep we mammals alive when we feel threatened.
There’s also other symptoms of trauma (for we humans), like intrusive thoughts, feeling too much or feeling too little, the loss of focus and concentration, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, like what we see, what we hear, what we touch, taste, smell. Some, or it may be even all of the senses, can remind us of of an experience(s) we so dearly want to forget.
One of the effects trauma has had on me is it’s sent me automatically into freeze mode when I’ve felt threatened. I’ve grit my proverbial teeth and borne all the stress that was cursing through my body as my way of carrying on with meeting life’s responsibilities. Doing so has helped me to cope with painful, troubling experiences, and to eventually break free from their energetic grip.
Lots of hot baths, time alone or with a dear friend, a nurturing Yoga practice and restful sleep, are just some of the ways I’ve coped.
But this is only part of the story when it comes to healing trauma, a necessary part, but the beginning of the healing journey nonetheless.
Managing it is one thing.
Healing the energetic residue of the traumatic event(s), which gets stored in our body by the way, is quite another.
And then, when the time is right, daring to make meaning out of the frightening, humiliating, even harrowing experience(s), is yet another level of this precious liberating work.
We CAN break free from the effects of trauma.
In so doing we begin to restore our sense of safety within ourselves, so vital to our healing process. Through it all, we begin the process of re-connecting with our self and our body, the people that matter, our community, and the larger world around us.
Acknowledging the reality of our condition and taking steps to change it are signs of strength, not weakness; initiative, not complacency.
Accepting any help that may be needed along the way is nothing short of an act of courage.
At the end of the day, taking action to foster healing and recovery empowers us. It affords us the space to take back our power. In so doing, the hard won victory, that WILL come, belongs to us.