Don’t you just love cliché’s, I mean they are just so applicable to every person’s situation right, and they make everything all better? Yeah Right!
There are times when your typical cliché’ might actually pertain to a particular situation in our lives, but even then when we hear them they just normally go in one ear and out the other. I mean those are for other people right? The ones who have a life that isn’t anything like ours?
So one of the all-time greats is “time heals all wounds”. What a crock! Time alone heals nothing; it takes hard work, commitment, and dedication to keep working through a traumatic past that we abuse survivors have endured.
I will say, in somewhat of a defense of “time heals all wounds”, time does give us a chance to put distance between ourselves and the traumatic events that went down. That alone can help ease the immediate pain and hurt that we feel and allow us to focus on putting a plan together to work through the trauma.
So, while time can be an ally, it’s not an end all be all fix for survivors.
The real healing starts with accepting when our minds are telling us that we are ready to confront our past, and then putting aside our fears and facing the past head on. As scary as that is, and it is indeed very intimidating, it is necessary if we don’t want to remain stuck living a life full of fear and insecurity.
So how do we know when it’s time to start facing our trauma?
It would be nice if healing from abuse was like healing from a broken arm. You go to the hospital, get an x-ray, and confirm that your arm is broken. Then the doctor puts you in a cast and says, come back in a couple months and have the cast removed and all will be fine.
Unfortunately, there is no set timetable in trauma recovery. There is no definitive number of months or years that we should wait before trying to heal. Each of us has a unique mind and unique ways of dealing with our traumatic past.
The unknown in healing can be unbelievably frustrating.
Since there is no official timetable in abuse recovery, and because it’s not linear, there is no way to say that in “X” number of months or years in recovery, we’ll suddenly be healed. That magically we will have it all together, and never be triggered again, have an anxiety attack, or experience feelings of self doubt.
You’ve heard the phrase, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”?
Well in abuse recovery, that holds true as well, although in a slightly different context than talking about an actual trip or our lives in general. You can’t get from point A to point B without traveling a route to get there.
That route could, and very well may be filled with detours, pot holes, and boulders that can slow us down and threaten to derail our progress.
Healing from abuse is all about the desire to not give up, it’s trial and error, and it’s realizing that the end justifies the means. Man for somebody who doesn’t like cliché’s I sure am using enough of them here. It all ties together, I promise.
The journey of healing is something that we should anticipate being difficult and long. That’s just the reality of it. When we experience horrific acts of abuse, through no fault of our own, it’s not something you can just “get over” after taking some courses and reading a couple books.
However, we know that the experiences we allow ourselves to sit with and work through will give us the power we need to face the rest of our life head on, and with more confidence. Reading the self-help books, tracking our emotions, writing trauma narratives, doing sandbox therapy, role playing, self-care, surrounding ourselves with supportive and validating people, these are all things that help us get to the empowered stage.
I am of the opinion that we do not ever fully heal from trauma, but rather it’s a lifelong healing process.
Again, there is no magic time that we can say, “ok we’re healed”. There will always be triggers or random circumstances that bring to light the events of our past. The abuse was too traumatic for it not to affect our entire being for the rest of our lives.
However, how we deal with triggers, how we handle anxiety and stress, how we choose to not dwell on memories, that’s where we can feel more confident in healing. Being empowered and knowing that we can use coping skills and grounding skills to deal with triggers, and recognize situations that may be unhealthy for us and then staying away, those types of things are signs of healing.
It is all about the journey, it’s all about how bad we want to feel better and be able to live the life we want. It takes more than just time, it takes every ounce of energy every day to not give up and remember that regardless of what our abusers tried to make us believe, we are worth the time AND effort of having the life we want.
image courtesy of, inspirationalstorytellers.com