Healing from trauma of any kind requires a minimum base of a safe place. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. And many of us PTSD survivors find ourselves in a position of needing to fight our way to that safe space, so we can then move on to our healing journey.
We are grieving a loss, and grief can not transform in to mourning until we take care of this basic need of nondestructive security.
I see it like the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Remove that basic foundation of an emotionally secure and physically non threatening safe place, and we find ourselves in the tornado of fighting for basic survival.
They say you can’t recover in the same place where your PTSD event occurred. But I had no choice. They say you can’t recover in the presence of the person who caused the trauma, but again, I had no choice. In the mental shock state I found myself in, I reacted all over the spectrum of pain response, and yet I, somehow, am able to find myself here, using and telling my story to inspire others to find their path toward healing.
I certainly don’t recommend the circumstances I was forced in to. If you can secure that foundation of safety for yourself, don’t hesitate, go and find it. Now. Your healing is too important to delay even a moment. Take it from me, I had to fight my way through without having that basic need met, and it nearly killed me.
Many of us, myself included, are unable to establish that safe place for ourselves. So what then? Our world has crushed our hearts and minds, and in the shocked state we find ourselves in, we must somehow move on, first with basic survival, and then we must claw our way in to a healing journey that best suits our circumstances and needs.
I remember asking my therapist for a safe place, a retreat of some sort she could recommend, where women in my situation could find solace. She shook her head sadly and informed me no such place exists. I was not only disappointed that my needs could not be met, I was saddened that women have been overlooked. I vowed then I would heal, somehow, some way, and would provide a safe place for others in my situation.
My lack of having that basic healing requirement met, culminated in my body revolting against me. Six months later I found myself in an emergency laparotomy surgery, having a melon sized cyst removed. Living in the constant state of trauma and loss triggers had finally manifested in to this growth that threatened my life. My emotional base line was not established sufficiently to give me the capability to survive post-op. I’m told the surgery was uneventful in itself, but I was in intensive post-op care for three hours. All I recall are two things: I wanted to let go and fade in to the next life. I decided, in my morphined state, the disappointments and losses of this life were too much to bear any longer. I had just let myself drift away, when the nurses called my daughter in to that sterile room, in a last attempt to save my life. I recall her standing above me, at 15, looking in to my eyes. That is when my strength returned. My daughter saved my life when she awakened my inner mommy warrior.
Healing is exhausting work. To work past the fight/flight/freeze natural response to trauma, takes everything we have. We have good days, and bad. My response was to freeze until I could think clearly. Unfortunately that left me in the vulnerable state of constantly recurring pain and loss. Just when I thought I could move on, more trauma was thrust upon me, and I had to start over.
So how then, do we find this life saving safe place? Especially if we can not physically remove ourselves? In my experience, we start within ourselves. I desperately worked to establish that space within my heart, my mind, my soul. That is how I survived. I held on to my spirituality, to nurture my soul, even as I felt more isolated from hope and faith than I ever had before.
I also found small ways to work from the outside in, using my physical surroundings to boost my turmoiled inner self. In my need for comfort, I noticed I had an emotionally positive response to certain essential oils (I am now a lemongrass oil diffuser junkie) and all things soft. So I bought the softest pillows and blankets I could find, and used these tiny pleasure moments to trick my mind in to feeling safe, giving me a touch of that base foundation, so I could continue my journey toward inner wholeness.
I later moved on to taking courses, therapy was not giving me what I needed, as they mostly focussed on the problem and not on my needs for healing. I clawed my way in to a stronger mental and spiritual state, and learned to drive my focus to where I needed it to be. And, ever so slowly, my baby steps to healing began to compound to where I am today. I now am a Certified Life Coach, specializing in helping people suffering from PTSD and Depression on their recovery journeys.
By finding my path to a safe place within myself, I was able to move on up that triangle of wellness, and still do. By taking baby steps, I conquered my fight/flight/freeze response, as my mind accepted the changes I carefully added to my daily routine. Healing is possible. In fact, by finding the safe place within myself, I am able to say I have returned stronger. And if I can do it, you can too. The desert journey is necessary, yes, but if we travel it courageously and piece by piece, we can all return stronger.
This is an Article I recently had published ... I thought I'd share it with you here as well.
Remember, you are not alone. And you are Enough. Yes, You.