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TRAUMA HEALING MYTHS
by Hannah Tiffin
TRAUMA HEALING MYTHS
by Hannah Tiffin
I have spent a lot of time in reflection lately. I found myself thinking about some of the many roads that I have taken over the years in search of personal growth, healing and spiritual balance. Boy! I have really fallen off the cliff a few times during my quest!
At first, I felt saddened by how many seemingly wrong turns I had made. I felt inadequate when I pegged my life progresses next to just about everyone else that I could think of. I felt small and I started to feel a sense of fear at the thought that I have no retirement plan, no HMO, no life insurance and my total life savings over the past 40 years could perhaps buy a dinner for 8 at a middle class restaurant.
It is common for us to compare ourselves to those around us. It is natural to feel inadequate at times. It can even be healthy to glance at what others are doing as long as we keep things in perspective. The important thing is to not only think about where we are going but to remember where we have been.
As I started thinking about how far I have come from where I had been. Then I started to relax and I began to smile. You know, some of the things that I have done wrong really are hilarious, sad and ridiculous, but hilarious all the same. I eventually came to the understanding that I am a miracle and I am more than alright. No, my successes are not as tangible as others…yet. BUT! I am on my way. I just had such a long way to go on my road of healing.
As I was thinking about all of this, I thought of some of the main myths I have held as true along the way. When it came to healing, I found that I personally held these three myths as true for a long, long time. It was not until I let them go that I was able to heal.
3 Trauma Healing Myths
1.) We will be who we were before whatever happened to us happened.
False. We will never be who we were before. We are always changing. Sometimes we change for the better and sometimes we take detours to our wellness. We are not capable of being the same person we were a day ago, so it is really impossible to be the person we were a decade or two ago. Besides, we were never the person we remember ourselves to have been anyway as we view ourselves through a very limited and often skewed set of filters anyway.
Our perception of self is and has always been separate from who we were and even if you were the most in tune, present person the world has ever seen (which I assure you, you are not) and you had a true image of who you were (which I assure you, you do not), your memory would not retain it in a pure form as our memory is not built that way so it would be moot anyway.
What does all of this mean? It means that you do not have to worry anymore about becoming something you used to be. It is impossible to be a you, that you remember…who you never were anyway!!! You are free from ever absorbing the comment “You just are not who you used to be” ever again. You do not have to spend another second wondering who you could have been before trauma because that person is you, you have not gone anywhere and you are free to be anything you want to be. The decision of who you are is yours and you can make it today. The really cool thing is that if you do not like the person you are or your perception of who you are which you hold….you can change it at any time. You are truly free.
2.) We will no longer grieve over what happened to us when we are healed.
False. You will grieve for the rest of your life depending on the depth of trauma you have absorbed. I bet that there is not a person on the planet (who has any age to them) who does not grieve over something. It is human nature to wish you could have done something different or to wish with all of your heart that something did not happen to us.
Here is a personal illustration: My mother has been gone for 13 years and there are days where I feel like a child and I am simply pissed off that I am living life without her. I am almost 40 and there are days where I still need her. This will never change. I am getting ready to have my second child. She will not see me pregnant or know this baby, she did not know my first child either. This still hurts, I still grieve. I grieve in waves but it is still present. One day, I will be a grandmother and I will likely think of mom then too and I will grieve for her that she did not get to be a grandmother long enough…
Grief is grief. When we have trauma we also have a grieving process which, at times, can be life long. Just as we have filters that tell us who we were, or are in myth one, we see our traumas through filters. What happens to us takes on new meanings as we grow and change over time. This is healthy. It means that the trauma is being processed rather than repressed. This does not mean we are doomed to a life of grief, it means that we are able to acknowledge how we truly feel and that we are present and accepting of who we are. That IS what healing, true healing is.
3.) All effects of our trauma will magically melt away and become separate from us.
False. Some of us will always carry scars of the past with us physically, mentally and emotionally. This does not mean we are not healed. It means that we are aware. Though there are many ways to recovery…recovery does not mean that we live as if nothing has happened. That is denial. What we should eventually work towards is a place where we can control how much the trauma controls our current existence, our relationships and our desired daily activities.
I once heard a story about monks who spend years learning how to make the perfect clay bowl. They take the bowl to their teacher and hundreds are turned down and deemed imperfect. Eventually the monk will arrive with a “perfect” bowl. The teacher smashes the bowl. The student then takes the bowl and puts it back together by fusing it with gold. This is an art form today called Kintsugi. They value the journey of the bowl. The bowl was perfect, was shattered and not usable, and then restored. Its bonding being gold which is much stronger than clay….hopefully you get the picture.
What does all of this mean? It means that the stuff that happens to us, simply happens. What we do with it is what matters. The stuff we gather after we break such as knowledge, empathy and understanding are our gold! You have gold that you have not mined for inside of you! It means that you are filled with riches and gifts that the world needs and can benefit from. Your trauma will always be there, so let it be golden.
After I was finished pondering these thoughts I asked myself what was golden about me? I came up with so many wonderful things. We are all golden. We are all perfectly imperfect and we are all normal for who we are, what we are and where we have been. Of course we still have work to do, who doesn’t? But waste no more time in illusion. Resolve to not give in to whatever healing myths you are holding on to. Do the work that you need to do to live life in a full and comfortable, peace filled way.
Your road to healing will be unique to you. Your healing outcome will be unique to you. And your healing myths will be unique to you. You are unique. There are many roads to healing and there are many myths and stops along the way. The most important thing in my opinion, is that we learn to be honest, loving, truthful and accepting of ourselves.