First off, let me be the first to tell you that working through your past trauma is so worth it. Let me also be the first to tell you, because I value honesty, that it is really, really hard. Trauma therapy is the putting back together of yourself and your world after you’ve experienced an event or events that literally and metaphorically shattered you in deep, painful ways, and that means that you have to find all the pieces of yourself, the good, bad, and ugly. It takes bravery, courage, and a deep resolve to do the work. Its going to take time. It’s not going to happen all at once. It’s going to have ups and downs. But it’s going to get better and a whole, stronger, healthier you is evolving every step of the way.
A little self-disclosure: this post is inspired by very own recent experience working through my own trauma with my therapist. (Yes, I am a therapist who comes to therapy. Something about you have to practice what you preach, right?) I was so proud of myself for finally being able to share just a little bit about the things that I have been through, but, in the days following a particular session, I felt an uptick in exhaustion and general challenging emotions. If this was healing, I was not so sure I wanted it.
This is the moment where an important decision had to be made. Was I finally going to let myself feel so I could move forward or was I going to stuff all the feelings back into my trauma box again and let them slowly leak out all over my life?
That decision is what makes going to therapy for your trauma, or really any therapy at all, so hard. Emotions demand to be felt in order to heal, and the emotions surrounding trauma are deep, painful, and wide. Pushing the feelings back down is the easy route, but the fruits of that choice are disconnection from people you love, poor boundaries, insecurities, physical illness, and just generally living life with this horrible thing or things that happened to you quietly pulling the strings. The choice to feel is painful, but it is the way to freedom. The good news is: you’re not alone.
A trauma therapist is there to help you walk through those painful emotions and put yourself back together again. They are there for you in moments of fear, insecurity, and doubt. They are there when you want to cancel your appointment because therapy is hard, when you feel like you’re falling apart, and when you need someone to be angry at. A good therapist reminds you that you survived, isn’t afraid of your emotions and pain, and deeply believes that healing is possible for you, especially when you’ve forgotten. Therapy teaches you the skills and gives you the tools to work through trauma when it pops up. It teaches you how to reach out for help, how to vulnerable and safe at the same time, and how to create safety with yourself. Therapy says: It’s okay to not be okay, but you aren’t going stay there forever. There will be hills and valleys, bad days and good days, days where you are triggered, and days where you realize that the things that triggered you in the past don’t sting quite so much anymore.
The world needs the you that has healed from trauma because that person is brave, compassionate, and resilient. So here’s to being brave. To making that next appointment. To trauma not controlling your life and becoming a stronger, healed version of you. To diving into the mess because the only way out of messy emotions is through them. You just don’t have to do it alone.