When we experience trauma we have several options about what path we want to take in terms of dealing with it. Sometimes, when we are so stunned by pain and grief, we hold on to the trauma and let it define who we are and how we experience the world. The impact was so huge, it seems to take over our whole life and nothing seems like it will be the same again. Walking this path as a victim, we feel powerless, afraid, limited, and defined by that label, and are stuck telling the same sad stories about our life over and over.
We can repress or deny or ignore the trauma, pretend it never happened and just try to go on with business as usual. But it takes a lot of energy to ignore or repress something, and so walking this path leaves less vital life force to create, express, enjoy and live your life. Repressing memories can result in chronic fatigue and exhaustion. And typically it’s not entirely effective. What your mind blots out, your heart and body know. And so the unprocessed trauma is held in the body and shows up as physical ailments, aches and pains (often seemingly unexplained) or illness, and as emotional distress, such as panic, anxiety, emotional “overreaction,” outbursts of rage, fear, grief or PTSD.
Or we can hold space to process the traumatic event. We can see it and ourselves with eyes of compassion and truth, feel and be with our experience and reactions to it. Walking this path is a difficult, often painful process. But it is the one that brings you to freedom. It allows you to integrate the experience, find the unexpected gifts of strength and healing, lets the light/divine come in through the cracks in the broken places. And eventually allows you to let it go. Instead of limiting yourself by identifying with a label (rape victim, survivor of sexual assault, or whatever) you can remember your essence—who you really are—your spirit, who you’ve always been and always will be. You can tell a different story of what happened by taking a bigger perspective. You can tell a healing story, an empowering story. Then you can release the story and not let it define you. As Carl Jung says, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
I walked along all of these paths myself, and found that they intertwined, spiraled around, and overlapped. Healing rarely happens in a straight line, but the living energy of the universe always leaves signposts and breadcrumbs and many other signals to help us find the way we need to go.
Which part of the path are you walking these days? Is it serving your highest good? Are you ready to switch paths or move along on the path? Join me on this healing journey to wholeness and freedom. Remember your essence and reclaim the truth, power, and beauty of who you truly are.