Focusing on our health is always important, but it is especially vital as you heal after trauma. And with all the added layer of stress that the world is dealing with at this time (between politics and the current outbreak), I want to gently remind you to take time for self-care.
An overwhelmed body is a dysregulated body that is more likely to miss important cues about needing rest and unplug from the news and social media. Yes, we want to stay informed but we must also be mindful of the impact worried thinking can have on our feelings and create additional stress in the body.
Learning about self-care was part of my healing journey after trauma. I had learned a lot about trauma. I understood the impact but had been fortunate with a healthy body, so the long term impact had not shown up in my biology except for very painful migraine headaches and depression. The toxic level of stress I had lived with my whole life had not registered yet.
Back then, my self-care...
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...
The power of your breath is that it is always in the moment, it is always something you can return to.
Self-awareness is key to starting a successful trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your toxic coping strategies.
I do a lot of trauma education with my clients. I know it provided me with the comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome was that I lived with toxic stress as a child and as an adult, that toxic stress was still living inside of me as if it was still happening and all my systems were on high alert, all the time!
As I started to...
Even though I have been on my healing journey for years and have come a long way, I can still fall into old patterns of resistance, old habits that reflect who I was, not who I am now. Even after all this time, I sometimes need gentle reminders that I have taken up these old habits. Sometimes that gentle reminder comes from someone else, sometimes it comes from my compassionate adult self. The thing that helps me stay compassionate and not immediately turn to shaming and judging myself is my awareness of automatic patterns and habits, also known as running on “autopilot,” and I hope that by sharing this information with you, it can help you move forward with compassion for yourself, once you understand that it isn’t always your fault when you resist change and revert to old habits. Because until we become aware of our automatic patterns and habits, change is very difficult, sometimes impossible.
Most of our day to day behaviors and actions are done on an automatic...
I just got home from a beautiful retreat on trauma and compassion in Nashville, TN. It was very well organized by the hosts and a very diverse group of people attended. We heard from researchers in the field of trauma and compassion and then spent 2 days immersed in learning about and experiencing compassion through meditation, sharing, and journaling.
I came away from this experience feeling very moved. I even found myself in tears more than once on the plane ride home as I reflected on the experience, the learning, and the deep authentic sharing that I experienced in the room, both from the presenters and participants. Nothing makes my heart sing like hearing people speaking courageously from their hearts.
What struck me over and over again, during the many breathing and meditation exercises, was how profound the human experience is in feeling and expressing pain and sadness, even joy and beauty, and what I kept hearing and seeing throughout the weekend was the hope,...
My heart sings with happiness every day. Why? Because I focus on the things that make me happy and give me joy. I do this on purpose. It’s an intentional action. Not something that just happens.
To be honest, feeling joyful isn’t easy for me. I’m not one of those naturally happy people, who leaps out of bed every morning with a smile on her face. For too many years, I was bound by shame and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be happy or joyful. I didn’t feel worthy of happiness.
Back then, I wanted everyone else to make me happy. However, that’s not how happiness works, so I was always disappointed. I expected things to go wrong, to be betrayed, abandoned, and ignored. It took a long time to get to the happy, joyous place I’m at right now.
How did I do it? Through the simple practice of self-care and self-love.
The secret to happiness is to do at least one simple thing every day that makes you happy and gives you joy. It can be...