You may have started the healing journey not knowing how to take care of yourself, always highly focused on taking care of others and making sure they were happy. As we know now, this is a coping strategy. Keeping the focus on others, keeping the peace, and staying out of trouble are all survival strategies many of us took on as children. It worked as a strategy in childhood, but now we don't know how to turn to meet our own needs once we've grown up.
Ongoing self-care is an important part of healing after trauma. When you take care of yourself, you learn what you like, what you want, what you need, and what you can do to meet those needs. You slowly learn to listen to your body and respect what it needs from you to take care of it.
The biggest reason we struggle with listening to ourselves is that no one listened to us when we were young, especially when we were hurting and in pain. Since we learned very early on that there was no one to talk to and that how we felt did not...
Perfectionism and shame are two sides of the same coin. People strive to be perfect because of their shame and then feel even more shame because they are never able to reach perfection. It is an endless cycle, exhausting and terrible, and one that takes us out of reality.
This is why perfectionism and shame are the “terrible twins” of trauma. Perfectionists are hiding something, whether that be trauma, an imperfection, insecurity, or an old belief about themselves. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be so hard on themselves and everyone else.
And it isn’t out of logical judgments and criticisms. It’s fear. Perfectionism is a defense, a way to feel safe and attempt to prevent bad things from happening. When childhood trauma happens, the child automatically decides that the bad thing only happened because he/she was bad and deserving of it. Something he/she did or something he/she is brought on the bad things. This is a logical response to trauma...
All survivors of child abuse have control issues, whether they are aware of it or not. And I was no exception. I grew up in a home that was out of control. I had no power over what was happening or the abuse inflicted upon me. And because of that, as soon as I was out of that environment, I sought to take control whenever and wherever I could to make up for the lack of power I felt growing up. My inner child was reacting to the adult world in defense, controlling all in order to possibly prevent any further harm from coming to her and I. Consequently, I spent many years being a terribly controlling adult.
But it took me a long time to realize that I was. Child abuse survivors are so disconnected from their bodies and emotions that we don’t know we’re control freaks. And we have no idea why we desperately crave control. We just need it to be that way to feel safe and it feels so risky to even question why.
I was an extreme case. I would actually complete other...
No matter how bad it gets or how dark you feel, you can always find something to be grateful for. Hey, you’re still alive, right? You’re able to take one breath after another. That may be all you have to be grateful for in this moment, but it’s enough to get you through to the next moment.
That is how I got through some of the hardest parts of this journey. And now I've gotten even better at practicing gratitude and I begin each day by focusing my thoughts on what I am thankful for, focusing on who I am TODAY, and accepting myself without judgment.
Because I have experienced what you are going through, because I have faced my fears and accepted my broken parts in these dark places, I can now look anyone in the eye and tell them, "I see you, I know who you are, and I know what you are. You are just like me, learning how to accept yourself. I will never judge you."
So if you’re struggling right now, be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Put...
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