Feels Life Lessons Self Growth

Healing from Past Trauma: Part 1

‘Healing’ and ‘Trauma’ – two words that most of us tend to run away from when found in the same sentence. But all of this running is doing us no good, myself especially. So today I want to invite you to join me as we carefully tread this delicate topic. This is a sensitive subject to delve into and for that reason I will be dividing this into two parts. So keep your eyes out for 2 weeks from now, when we will explore the second part to this.

Confronting trauma from your past is one of the most difficult things that you will ever do in your life. Some people live their whole lives without ever doing it, because of the measure of pain it entails. There are some who go 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years until they choose to acknowledge that this actually happened and it is something to be dealt with. As much as I can appreciate how difficult this is, and consequently, how long it may take, I do have to say that healing sooner is better than healing later. And that is something that I have only recently learned.

2020 has been a year of healing for me. I used to describe myself as a runner. If you are anything like me, you will understand what that means. I spent my life running. That meant that whenever something painful happened to me, I would just keep running. “We move” is the term that has recently been coined for what I used to do. When the opportunity came for me to address a personal issue, I would run. Even when I was out of breath and my bones were aching and my lungs were crying out for rest, I just kept running. And that’s the thing about being a runner – while you think you are doing the best thing by avoiding these matters, in the process of this you inflict damage on yourself. And this damage is cumulative. Meaning that because you fail to address the root, you also fail to address the symptoms, and so the damage just keeps building and building until one day you break down and wonder where everything went wrong. I used to be somebody who was well-acquainted with breakdowns. A year wasn’t complete unless I had at least 2 or 3 breakdowns during the course of it. And I thought this was normal. I thought it was normal for your knees to buckle after months of carrying a load on your back. I never realised that loads were never made to be carried, but to be shared.

I learned the root of my trauma when I was forced to confront the symptoms of it. You know how sometimes we say that we act in certain ways “for no reason”? Most of the time, there really is a reason. We have just pushed it so far to the back of our mind that we cannot identify it. I used to get sad “for no reason”. It was something that I just accepted was a part of me, and was just who I am. Until one day I had a conversation with a friend when I was on the verge of breaking down and she advised me to begin to write down what precedes my “unknown” sadness. She told me to think of what happens right before these waves of sadness come upon me. What type of environment was I in? What were my thoughts like? Who was I with? What were the last things said to me? How did I feel when those things were said? She basically encouraged me to do a self-examination. So I did. The point of this exercise was really just to identify a pattern. I thought I would need a list of incidents before I might identify a pattern. It only took me two. 19 years of pain and confusion was solved by writing down 2 incidents. How odd this life is. I identified the pattern immediately and realised that I was in a cycle. A cycle that started from when I was a young child.

The craziest thing about childhood is that we often underestimate the impact of it on the rest of our life. Your ability or inability to deal with what happened to you as a child will often affect absolutely every other aspect of your life when you grow up. When we choose not to address our childhood, or other traumatic events that happen over the course of our lives, we choose a state of perpetual misery. We choose stagnancy over growth. We choose pain over peace. We choose confusion over comfort.

Many a time, there are certain ways a person acts that are an indication of the kind of childhood they had, and how it affected them. We think we do a good job of hiding these things, but our bodies and brains are snitches. When you get used to a certain kind of behaviour as a child i.e. when your brain is in its most receptive state, your brains programs itself to believing that whatever behaviour you are familiar with is normal. It then applies that to your experiences when you are older. You think it’s merely a coincidence that you always go for emotionally unavailable partners? Maybe that’s because you failed to receive the emotional care you needed from your parents growing up. But your brain saw that as normal so it naturally gravitates towards whatever feels normal. You think the reason you can’t take compliments is just because you’re awkward? Maybe it’s because you didn’t receive the positive affirmation you needed as a child, and now you are not comfortable receiving it. You think you are a perfectionist just because you like things being in order? Maybe that’s rooted in a deeper fear of failure, because when you failed as a child you were made feel unloved and worthless. You think you simply don’t believe in God for no reason? Maybe that’s a defense mechanism because your mentality of who He is was warped by what you experienced, in life or from people who claimed to love Him.

You will never heal from the symptoms of something until the root is addressed. And it will always manifest in other areas of your life until you do this. And it doesn’t always manifest in a way that is explicitly negative. Sometimes it manifests in ways that seem positive. Sometimes the reason you love ‘too hard’ isn’t because you genuinely love the person, but because of fear of abandonment. Sometimes the reason you want to be with your friends all the time isn’t because you enjoy their company that much, but because home is a harder place to be at. Sometimes the reason you fit in so well with everyone you meet is because you constantly adjust yourself, due to having a fear of rejection, therefore people-pleasing is the solution to that. This is why self examination is so important. I am still in the process of learning myself and I think I always will be. God has helped me tremendously in this regard. But I do urge you that you should never accept a part of yourself that you know you’re not 100% comfortable with just because ‘it’s who I am’. Be honest with yourself. Healing starts with honesty.

I really want to ask you guys to join me in this journey of self-discovery. Self-discovery doesn’t start by travelling to Africa, or by embracing nudity. It starts by being honest with yourself. It starts by asking yourself questions. And it is a process. Don’t expect everything to make sense at the start, but be persistent. Being persistent never fails to reap results. Healing takes time, and the first step of it is honesty. So I encourage you to be honest today. Maybe write some things down, maybe talk to God, maybe talk to a friend. Do whatever.. just be honest.

Love you all. Feel free to leave a comment and share with someone who may need to read this.

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1 Comment

  1. Can’t thank you enough for this ??

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