At some point, for most people, the stress of their trauma alters their lives significantly enough that they reach out for help. It was no light thing for me to seek it myself. The expense alone can be enough to keep people from seeking assistance
I happened onto a watershed moment while I was in school while observing a group therapy session for teens in a drug an alcohol rehab. I often wonder if I would have felt comfortable with therapy if I had not had good training in school. I always believed that there had to be a better way of being because I saw modeled in serene, compassionate, mentally healthy people with great boundaries from time to time. But after I observed that group therapy session, I realized on a very deep level that I was not alone in my pain and that there was viable, effective help out there for me when I was ready for it. I just finally became tired of living a sub-standard life of pain.
Holding Out Hope
I wish that the process of finding a good therapist could be easier, particularly those who understand or are willing to learn about the unique problems associated with cultic groups. But be encouraged. A few studies have shown that just getting out of bed and going to a therapist who does no actual therapy proves to be just as beneficial as medication. It is an act of self care, and I suppose that attending to your own needs comes along with its own benefits of better mood. And while the leading experts in trauma note that medication is not a cure, it can “lengthen your fuse” enough to help you get more out of the work of healing.
Many people cannot afford to pay a therapist, but there is so much that can be learned from self help books and other information on the internet. Trauma is understood much better than it was before due to a host of factors, and the field is a world away from the days of Jung and Freud.
Find friends who can support you. Find a few of them upon whom you can lean as you work through your traumas, and try not to wear any one friend out all at once. Our friends can get weary of us, even though they love us, so it is a good thing to have just a few good ones. Find role models, too. They can lend encouragement. You need people who can hold on to hope for you when you don't have the ability to do it for yourself. They can hang on to it for you as you figure out where you are and what you need to do to honor yourself and move forward. They can help broaden your perspective to help you see the things that you cannot when your head hangs low – and hopefulness escapes your gaze.
The decision is yours. If you've read this and the few posts that preceded this one, you have knowledge that many elements of trauma can become a trap and a maze that keeps you captive until you learn new strategies that do more than just help you survive. So today, I hold out hope for you. You may feel powerless, but you can nurture the power that you do have by taking advantage of the helpful things that are under your control. That warmth may only be a glowing ember left after the devastating fire of trauma, but you can harness that heat and light to heal. You can take your bad experiences and turn them around to find the good benefits in them. And in the process, you might just help others. In the long run, you will most definitely help those who love you.
And from here, we head out of the discussion of the trappings of trauma without treatment, venturing on to consider Stage One of healing from trauma.
For further reading until the next post:
- Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery
- Peter Levine's Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
- Bessel Van der Kolk's The Body Keeps Score