Mind & Meaning

Healing Trauma 

April 25, 2023

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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A personal story for guidance through your trauma journey  

Trauma has started to become what almost feels like a buzzword. I almost hate to say that, but it feels like it’s everywhere. In many ways that’s good. It helps connect us, and gives us options for how to understand our own trauma, and what to do about it. 

However, it can feel overwhelming as to where to start or what to do. At least that was the case when I first started my trauma journey. 

I had a pretty unstable childhood, and by the time I was sixteen I entered into a relationship with a man, five years older than me, that resulted in physical, mental and sexual abuse/violence. 

I stayed in that relationship for 18 months, and literally fled in the middle of the night, moving halfway across the US in order to escape. 

I then developed an eating disorder and a slew of other self damaging behaviors as I tried to navigate my way back to myself. 

I was able to navigate through things eventually, getting help for the eating disorder and slowly learning to love myself enough to end some of the behavior that was hurting me. 

Fast forward twenty years later, I realized I had a lot of trauma that still affected my life. Having been in and out of mental health therapy throughout the years, helped, but I had a significant amount of triggers still showing up, especially as I entered a new relationship. 

I decided it was time to work through what was left. 

Easy, right?

The decision was easy, but where to start and what to do was confusing. I knew as a Massage Therapist, that bringing my energy with me into a session, needed to be balanced and grounded. It became important to me to be “healed” in order to show up in a way that was authentic to those I serve. 

I read, The Body Keeps the Score, which gave me tremendous insight, but still, I found that I didn’t understand what action I needed to heal myself. 

I read some other stuff and did some exercises – visited mental health therapy again, but I still felt confused about what to do. 

How do you heal trauma?

You don’t. 

I searched and searched for ways to heal trauma. Healing for me, equated to it going away. I wanted the trauma to disappear but the simple yet complicated truth is that it can’t. 

It’s part of you, your story. 

I was asking the wrong question. Instead of how can I heal my trauma, I started asking how can I love myself through the trauma? How is it still showing up in my life, in my body? And then what can I do about that?

That was the question I needed, to guide me in the direction I needed to go. 

It wasn’t so much about healing the trauma so to speak, but identifying where the trauma was holding me back, and tackling each one of those things. 

Once I figured that out, the journey began. 

For example, one of  things that still affected me years later was an adverse reaction to my stomach being touched. It activated my sympathetic nervous system, and made me so uncomfortable that I would become sick to my stomach. 

I knew where this adverse reaction came from. When I was abused, he would grab my stomach and say awful things. 

In order to overcome this, I allowed my stomach to be touched in a loving, kind, way by someone. It took years before I was able to stop feeling sick, and actually embrace the love I was being given. But it happened – eventually. 

I allowed the discomfort to bring myself into comfort. 

It’s about staying open and curious about what’s showing up for you. Oftentimes there are things that trigger us, and we don’t connect them to our trauma. All that matters is that we are becoming aware of things that don’t align with who or where we want to be, and then figuring out what we need to do to get past them. 

It’s about honoring yourself, recognizing the patterns, having a deep understanding of the trauma, and then being able to be compassionate to yourself. 

Something else that’s helped me tremendously, is Dr. Richard Schwartz’s work – No Bad Parts. Embracing all of me, and knowing that no part of who I am, is bad.

Doing this work has been so loving and insightful.  

Knowing what part of you is dominating, and doing work to address it, can help you take leaps forward in your journey. 

The key is finding peace within yourself –  that’s the healing that we’re searching for – isn’t it?  It’s not a wiping away of what’s happened, it’s not a disappearance, or burying the incident. 

It remains, it always will. On a cellular level, it’s part of us. 

We don’t even have to be okay with that because two things can be true. 

We can be disappointed and be at peace. If we can accept that it is, find a way to embrace the experience of it, and then come to terms, we can more easily move forward, not allowing it to trap us in our past. 

Because it’ll stay with us on a cellular level, it’s important to have awareness with moving it through your body in a healthy way. 

There’s several ways I recommend to do this, and I will note, I do think it’s important to work with a mental health therapist though this, or at least have a relationship with one to call on if needed. 

A trauma informed body worker is a place to start. Finding a trauma informed massage therapist is important. And, recognizing where trauma may be stored, 

or how you react to specific triggers. 

Are you being activated or triggered by specific things, and moving into a fight, flight, or flee state? 

Start keeping a list of when you know you get triggered. What’s the event or trigger, and how are you reacting? 

An example of a trigger I worked through in a romantic relationship of mine, was a trigger of spinning off into a web of negative thought if my partner didn’t call me on their way home or when staying late to work. 

Since I had gotten used to a call, if I didn’t receive one, my mind would run wild with possibility after being cheated on in a previous relationship. I’d think: they must be doing something, like cheating. Then it would eventually spin into a car accident or something tragic must have happened to them to have forgotten to call. 

My first step was to recognize this trigger. Once I started to recognize this as a trigger and what it was creating, I was able to catch the self talk immediately, pick up the phone and call them to ensure they were okay before my mind ran wild with imagination. 

I know that with that trigger, my sympathetic nervous system is activated and my automatic response is one of fight. It shows up as tension in my upper body, my shoulder’s specifically because my body thinks I’m in danger, and it’s preparing me to fight. 

However, my stomach example from earlier, when activated, is showing up in my sympathetic nervous system as freezing. My body automatically assesses the situation and realizes that fight, and flee are not options and take me to a freezing state. 

Tension in a freeze state may show up as whole body tension because we are going to tense all of our muscles in an attempt to stay still and become hyper aware. 

Using these two tools to work through trauma are imperative: know your triggers, and how they’re affecting you, and know what stage of the fight, or flight activation you navigate towards. 

Journaling and mediating through these can also be extremely helpful with acceptance and peace. 

Healing trauma is a big job, so let’s not make it so overwhelming. Let’s take the word heal out of the equation, and know that it’s part of us that we can live in peace with. 

Remember that everyone’s journey is different. This is what has worked so far for me, but I’d love to hear what’s working or not working for you in the comments.

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