Being a trauma survivor is really difficult. It can seem so much easier to run from your trauma and pretend it didn’t happen than to stop and face it. Sometimes healing from trauma is more painful than the trauma itself.
Before I started facing my trauma in therapy I was able to do so much more externally than I am now. I was really social, I had a lot of friends, I worked full time, I was hardly ever alone. If you saw me from the outside you would have thought I was thriving. But amidst those things I was also self harming, I was suicidal, and I was struggling with my eating disorder recovery.
It’s so confusing to look back on that time. I am no longer suicidal and I rarely self harm now but I do so much less externally. I rarely hang out with friends, I’m not working full time, I spend a lot of time alone, and sometimes it feels like I’m going backwards because isn’t being social better than being alone? Along the way, I was taught that being with people is how you heal. But I think that my lifestyle right now is what I need.
For the first time I’m actually in touch with myself enough to know what my triggers are. I can tell what increases my anxiety. And instead of constantly running, living in constant trauma reactions and panic and being so disconnected that I couldn’t even tell what was happening, I’m able to slow down.
A few years ago when I was doing ‘more’ I didn’t know I had Dissociative Identity Disorder. I had repressed all the memories of my trauma. Facing this diagnosis and these memories made everything on the outside have to slow down. I’m doing so much work in therapy and yes, it takes up all my time and energy and no, I’m not able to do all the things I want to do, but I’m healing.
The person who told me that I constantly need to be connecting with others in order to heal was wrong. I need to connect with myself. And I am. It’s taking me years to recover from my trauma. I wish it would go faster. I wish I could be done with it. It’s so much work and having to pull back from life to deal with it all has been so difficult for me.
But I dream of a life where I will be free from my trauma. A life where I will no longer be paralyzed by PTSD, panic, and anxiety. A life where I will be able to do what feels right for me. Sometimes it feels like I will always be doing trauma work. I’ve been doing it for three years and sometimes I can’t see a way out. But my therapist does and I trust her.
Even though I was more social and active before starting trauma work I was miserable. Sometimes when I look back on those memories I forget that. A life full of self harm and suicidal ideation is terrible, no matter how many friends you have. It makes me sad that starting trauma work made me lose most of those friends. But I had to do what was best for me. Healing is what is best for me. Not living a life running away from my trauma. Yes, the pain is really intense right now, but it will be worth it on the other side. Even if it takes years, it will be worth it. It doesn’t always feel worth it, but I don’t ever want to go back to the life of being constantly suicidal. Healing is worth it, no matter how much it hurts.
If you’re going through this right now you’re not alone. There are other people who understand how you feel. There are other people who are going through it, too. If you need support go to the WhiteFlag App. It’s full of people working through trauma, just like you and I are.
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