The Messiness of Trauma Recovery

Very few tell the truth about what the healing phase looks like.

When I was reading “Your Soul’s Gift” by Robert Schwartz, I came across the below passage and it made a lot of sense. What so many don’t realize is just how messy the healing phase is. It is not pretty.  It is not neat and tidy. It is not benevolent. People who are defended from their pain will observe those going through recovery thinking they are backpedaling when in reality, they are moving forward. To be trauma-informed is to accept the below as part of the process.

From an incest survivor during her healing phase: “I couldn’t sleep for months,” she added. “I cried. I wailed. There were times my husband would take his parents out of the house so I could let myself go. It hurt so deep inside me. I would crawl around on the floor like some kind of wounded, helpless animal. That was releasing part of the hurt I couldn’t get to any other way. Thankfully, I allowed myself to do whatever I needed to do to heal.”

Debbie purchased “The Courage to Heal” and worked through the exercises. At times she sat on her patio and screamed furiously at her parents— “How dare you! How could you!” —letting out the pent-up anger. She tried not to leave home unless necessary. Even a trip to the post office was almost more than she could bear.

“I remember walking into the post office, thinking that on my back were big letters that said, ‘I was molested.’ I thought everybody could see it. I wanted to crawl out of there. I was so ashamed and embarrassed.

As the emotions came through me, I allowed myself to sit with them versus stuffing them as I had done all my life and which made all the problems I had lived with.

Then one day I made it for a few hours without crying. As time went on, I made it a few days without crying. And then, finally, I felt a sense of relief, because everything made sense. All my life I thought I was crazy, worthless, and a bad person. It took me a while to forgive myself for some of the behaviors I engaged in, some of the people I hurt, but now I could move in a direction that was right for me because now I knew the truth.” ~From the book “Your Soul’s Gift” by Robert Schwartz.

Supportive relationships are intrinsic to this process working successfully. If you can find someone who can handle the mess of healing, you’ve got it made. It is not “intense” or “dramatic”. It is a process of a person becoming real and in a fake world, the real can be scary or too much for the unreal. This is why so many have a tendency to question or gaslight people who are in the trenches of recovery.

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