We have spent a great deal of time discussing what trauma is and the many ways in which you are currently affected or have been affected by the traumatic experiences you have survived. Throughout this year we started to look at trauma, in many ways, as an unavoidable part of life. Many of us have survived at least one traumatic experience. We may feel inclined to start measuring what traumas are horrendous enough for certain reactions but the truth is that each individual will respond differently to a situation, some will feel more affected by certain things than others. What is important at the end of the day, is how you have been affected by the trauma you survived, remember that we all come from different places in life which means our reactions to situations will vary depending on our own histories. This week I wanted to spend time discussing Owning the fact that Only You Know When, How, What, Where and Why. Only you know how you have been affected, only you know when you are ready to address the trauma and heal, only you know what you need to move forward, only you know where you feel safe, where you want to go and only you know why you are choosing to do things the way you are choosing to do it. Only you know how you have been affected, only you know your pain and suffering, only you know what you need to heal you and only you know when you are ready. Very often after having survived a traumatic experience there is a push to almost force survivors of trauma to BE OK in as little time as possible. That is never the correct option. Before I continue on I’d like to reiterate that when reading PROSAF’s articles, they can be triggering, they can cause flashbacks, anxiety, fear, etc. Please should you begin to feel triggered, scared, anxious, etc. stop reading the article. Listen to your body and acknowledge what it is telling you it needs. The article will be here when you are ready. If you don’t feel that reading it is beneficial to you, don’t. Remember, the most important part of your healing journey is learning to trust yourself again about what you need. You’re learning to listen to your body again, to read the signs that say, I need a break , be gentle with me, I am overwhelmed, etc. Trauma may have made you start second guessing yourself, it may make you feel like you need to push to be strong for everyone else. Healing is about learning to put you first, doing what you need to heal, what you need to feel strong and empowered. Healing is about you. So start listening to your body and what you need. Start putting you first.
Trauma by its nature is an unexpected occurrence. No one can be fully prepared for an experience that will leave them traumatized. Truthfully, you are never able to fully grasp how you have been affected until after the trauma has occurred and you have began to process what you lived through and what happened. Generally your first instinct may be to pretend that you are not as affected as you really are by what you have survived. You may try to be ok for those around, you may try to pretend to be ok because chances are that those around you are pushing you to be ok. They want you to be the you you were before trauma walked in and up-ended your life. The truth is that is near impossible. Trauma changes you, changes who you were, which means that parts of who you were before the trauma have ceased to exist. Because there are things that you have experienced that can’t be unexperienced. Once you faced the reality of what human nature is really capable of, there is not much you can do to unlive it. I say all this to say, that only you gets to decide the way forward. Only you know can truly know what you need to heal, to feel alive again. Only you can know what is needed to get you feeling safe, secure and confident again. Society wants to rush your healing, they want to dictate how long you get to heal and how you get to act during your healing. Society hasn’t taken the time to understand what happens when you survive a trauma, society doesn’t take the time to try to understand the multiple ways you can be affected and how that is played out for those around you.
Knowing what you need is a journey. You learn as time goes by what you need and when you need certain things. What you need changes as you get older, it changes and you understand and accept the traumatic experiences that have changed you. It changes as the effects of those traumas as they begin to unfold in your life. I heard someone say recently that no one truly knows but you because no one truly experiences things the same way. Because no one truly understands how you have been affected and what you need to do to get out of bed and make it through a day all the while pretending that everything is ok. The thing is, no matter how similar my traumatic experience is to yours, what got you though will not be the same for someone else. No two people would have processed what happened the same way. They would have handled the experience and the aftermath very differently, which means ultimately that only you really know what you need to heal. It doesn’t mean it will be clear what you need right away, that may take time, but only you understands your needs, the pace at which you feel comfortable to proceed and only you know when the time is right. I know it’s difficult and it will take time but learning to trust yourself is imperative and remembering that you and only you know when you’re ready and what you need.
I want you to work on acknowledging what you have been through, what you have survived. I want you to work on acknowledging how you have been affected and what you need to begin to feel like you again. No one is able to tell you how you should feel, what you should need to do to heal, how you should be behaving etc. In a nutshell only you know what you survived and what you need to heal. As a survivor, I can tell you how I feel may be similar to another but it is not the same. We process and live through things differently. Acknowledge that, accept that, your path will be unique. Know we are here to listen and help. We are all walking a similar path not the same but we all understand on some level your pain. You are not alone, I know it often feels that way. But know you are not. We are here to listen. Call if you need to vent, if you need company to just be on the phone. We are here to help. Text, email, call, you are not alone. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, you were violated. You don’t have to keep secrets you don ’t want to keep to protect anyone. You don’t have to let anyone into your life who doesn’t understand or support you. Should you want to discuss or ask a specific question don’t hesitate to send it in. Please don’t give up. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to enjoy the holidays, you deserve to decide who you let into your life and how much. Our contact info is below:
Book: The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis
Souyenne Dathorne (724-9991), Velika Lawrence – Xylaw (723-6466)
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (under construction)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel)