Home Feeling Empowered Trauma recovery can be a jagged journey.
healing from abuse can feel like a jagged recovery

Trauma recovery can be a jagged journey.

by Matt Pappas

In a recent therapy session with J, which of course was rough, as they often times are. The issues of dealing with my mother are just consuming me and I’m realizing again that healing from abuse is not linear. Trauma recovery can be a jagged journey.

When I say “jagged” I’m referring to the up and down spikes of emotions and feelings that can randomly present themselves to us without a moments notice. Just when we think we are starting to make some progress, we seemingly take a step backwards or we feel like we are stalling out. All of that forward momentum has become quite difficult to keep in motion. We likely may not even have noticed the progress we were making until we take a step back.

A good analogy that I use is that recovery is like a graph or chart. You want the trend to flow upwards, but you know that there are dips and spikes downwards along the way. The key is not to let the negative spikes determine the ultimate outcome.  Trauma recovery is a jagged journey. Full of ups and downs but we want to continue moving onward and upward

If healing were easy, if it were linear, anybody could do it. It would so much easier to just punch in the destination of “recovery” into our GPS and take a nice leisurely drive to wholeness. Oh if it only it were that simple and straightforward, right?!

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, or any type of abuse, we know all to well that the road to recovery is full of many twists, turns, boulders, and pot holes. It’s unnerving, exasperating, irritating, and just a royal pain in the butt!

That famous quote, “the end justifies the means”, is particularly poignant for this topic.

So while our recovery journey is painful and long, there is hope. There is a reason we are doing this. We are tired of waking up and being worried about the days coming events. We are fed up with Anxiety ruling our life, even though it’s been with us so long that it seems like the norm. The memories and flashbacks are exhausting and stressful. Our self image has taken a devastating blow over the years; our self esteem may be all but non-existent.

All of these feelings make us wonder why is it worth it? What’s the point? We’ve lived with our past for so long and maybe it’s completely defined who and what we are, so trying to change seems next to impossible.

I’m here to encourage you, to encourage myself, with the reminder that healing is possible!

Do I have it all together? Nope! Do I suffer debilitating days of anxiety and stress? Yes!  If you do as well, trust me when I say, I am right there with you.

As I’ve learned, and continue to learn through blogging, reading, educating myself, talking to colleagues and others, we can feel better and live the life we want!

It doesn’t mean that we ever fully, completely heal and forget our past. That’s just not realistic if you ask me. Our past is part of us, there is no delete button in our life. There is no backspace either. Our minds don’t forget what happened to us, but with hard work and dedication, we can realize the hope of a better life.

We can learn to deal with anxiety in a more healthy, positive fashion. We can recognize the warning signs and red flags of potential triggers and lean on our past experience to help us. If a stressful situation blind sides us, our work in healing will better equip to handle it and move on without it taking us completely out of our game. We learn healthy boundaries, and how to deal with toxic people in our lives.

Don’t just stop when that boulder is in front of you. Don’t accept the norm that  you’ve known for years, decades even.  Reach out for help, put in the hard work to heal, share your story, and be validated. Trust in yourself and your ability to survive your own past and have a future of thriving and conquering whatever comes your way.

No matter how alone, helpless and hopeless you feel, at any given time, there are countless other survivors going through similar circumstances and feeling the same emotions as you are.

Reach out for help, lean on others when you need to and allow others to lean on you when you are feeling strong.  Surviving abuse is not about going through healing all by yourself.

-Matt

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7 comments

Athena Moberg June 3, 2016 - 3:45 pm

Thank you for your encouragement today, my friend! Great post!

Reply
Matt June 3, 2016 - 11:00 pm

Thank you so much my friend. Your validation and support is unparalleled! You rock!

Reply
Joy Richardson June 5, 2016 - 5:17 am

You are such an encouragement, Matt. Thank you.

Reply
Matt June 5, 2016 - 9:51 am

You are such a great person Joy, and I’m glad you are here. You have a story to tell and you are an amazing survivor who can inspire people without even knowing it. I’m proud to support you and encourage you any way I can. 🙂

Reply
Get back up, dust yourself off, and keep going! - Surviving My Past December 11, 2016 - 4:05 am

[…] down again; it’s when. That’s just harsh reality of life whether you are a survivor or not. Life isn’t a straight and narrow healing journey with road signs and convenient rest stops whenever we need […]

Reply
Perfectionism, the anxiety driven fallacy in recovery. - Surviving My Past January 20, 2017 - 10:04 am

[…] is a jagged journey, it’s a juggling act at times. If we aren’t careful, we can get caught up in what we […]

Reply
Tanya April 14, 2019 - 8:38 pm

Love this Matt 🙏🏽

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