As you know, when you experience trauma you are often faced with one loss after another. First there may be the loss of a person, or a thing or the loss of a sense of safety and security in your world, and you feel excessive pain and you start to grieve as best you can….there is no set rule book for this or timeline so you just do the best you can.
Then because of all the changes you experience within yourself emotionally, physically, mentally there comes the other losses that you must start to grieve….
- The loss of friends as you withdraw from the world (or parts of it), because it takes way too much energy to get up of a morning, let alone sustain a friendship or relationship when you have no energy left.
- The loss of family relationships in the way that they were, due to the pain you experience, the shame, the guilt, in reality you have the whole gamut of emotions and you think ‘they’re better off without me as involved, due to my frustration or anger anyway’.
- Then there is the loss of your work or your career as you simply struggle to get in there every day, and if you do then you do your best, but you know it certainly isn’t to your pre-trauma standard….and some of you may have to stop working altogether due to your health, your physical or psychological well-being….then there is another huge loss that you have to start to grieve.
- Then there are the financial struggles as things start to change, you possibly can’t work so your income depletes, you may be on some form of benefits and this certainly means some things have to radically change in order for you to survive. Then there may be a time where you have to sell your home, your pride and joy that has kept you safe and nurtured all those years…. yet another loss and more change to add to your never-ending bucket of pain and grief.
- Then of course there is the loss of identity, as you had always known exactly who you were as a loving partner, parent, friend, worker, and suddenly you feel as though you are not any of those roles, well certainly not at the level you have always played them at. And the loss that comes with that, with who you felt you always were, is massive and you have to grieve that loss all over again…..
You look back on all these key points and take it all in, and it really is absolutely no wonder at all that you feel sad, lonely, frustrated, angry, devastated, heartbroken, ashamed, guilty….the list goes on….
You don’t have to love where you are right now, in fact loving it will actually serve to keep you stuck there for longer…..though you do need to acknowledge it and discover a way forward so you can move forward in your life and grow .
I am often asked to help make sense of the suffering and pain experienced by those who are traumatized or experience significant trauma at some point in their life – to try to help people who haven’t shared that unique experience to learn to understand it as best as possible and to make some sense of it in some small way.
I try to explain it like this….(and I draw inspiration from Emily Perl Kingsley in this explanation)….for the person experiencing the trauma….
You may feel as though you are in a whole new world, one that seems just like a foreign country, and as if you need to learn a whole new language, it will feel uncomfortable, and you may struggle to be understood, however you can teach yourself your new language, learn your new world rules and meet new people you would not have crossed paths with and educate them on who you are in this new world and try to teach them to speak the same language.
You don’t have to love where you are right now, however, you do need to work out how you can come to terms with your current reality, perhaps buy a new guide book to find your way around there in this new world for a little while so you don’t become too lost and too despairing to find your way out.
Everyone you knew keeps coming and going from your old world and they’re all talking about how wonderful their world /country is and for the rest of your life, you will likely say “yes, that’s where I once lived and was comfortable and where my life was mapped out for me”, and the pain of that loss may never ever really totally go away, because your loss is real and it is significant and it should be acknowledged.
However, if you spend your entire life grieving the fact that you no longer live in your old world…. you will never be free to see what your new world truly looks like and explore what it may still hold for you.
Part of moving forward is around giving yourself permission to take a big deep breath and look around you fully, as if looking through a new set of eyes and you will be surprised at what you will actually see, likely for the very first time…. and you can begin to experience the special things in that new world and explore the many opportunities that lie ahead in there, if you will allow yourself to do that.
Consider what is important to you as far as your values and beliefs, and see them through the lens in your new world, with everything that you have experienced and the learnings you have taken from these experiences and create the environment you want for yourself to ensure you feel safe and secure as you move forward again.
This is a huge part of beginning to live your life again and designing your future so that you are again feeling in control of your life and creating a future for you and those that matter to you and creating your new identity, including the new learnings that have come with your pain and your suffering, and utilizing them in a way that is productive and so you can find the freedom you desire.
To discover more around how to let go of pain and hurt and design the future you desire connect with me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/DrNatalieGreen/ or head to my website https://drnataliegreen.com.au/.
Keep on Shining Bright
Dr Nat x