Becoming Stuck in the Trauma of the Past
There are many roadblocks to healing from dissociative identity disorder (DID). There is finding an experienced therapist, finding the funds to pay them, and dealing with the chaos that comes with beginning treatment.
However, one roadblock stands out more than all the rest and it can occur at any time during the healing process, getting stuck in the trauma of the past. This article will cover what it is meant by getting stuck, how this affects healing and things that one can do to move beyond the trap of trauma.
Getting Stuck in the Trauma
Everyone who enters therapy to resolve the issues surrounding DID goes through a period when there are enormous resentment and victimhood. This is normal considering the extreme damage done by abusers and those who failed to intervene. Revenge, hatred, and a deep sense of loss are going to surface once the person living with dissociative identity disorder understands how much of their life has been robbed by others.
A trained mental health professional can help to ease this painful phase, but ultimately it is up to us to recognize that wishful thinking will not change the past. It is fine to grieve but remember while doing it that the past is immutable and cannot be changed.
While these strong emotions and reactions are to be expected, that does not mean it is healthy to pull over and park there. By getting stuck in the anger, angst, and fear of what was we rob ourselves of the joy of living in today.
Four Signs You Are Not Healed from Trauma
Healing from trauma takes time and we should not consider ourselves healed unless we have defeated some of the signs that we are still affected by it. The following list of signs is not complete, but it gives a good sense of how to gauge if you have reached the point where you can leave therapy.
Remember, you can leave therapy anytime you wish, but if you wish to heal as much as possible it is necessary to make a commitment to the healing process that often includes psychotherapy.
Sign One — You still keep going to dry wells looking for water. People who are not supportive, non-responsive to your needs, or are abusive are dry wells. You can keep going back to these wells to fill your bucket of need, but there is no water. You can drop that bucket into these wells over and again but get the same results every time. They simply cannot or will not meet your needs for companionship and caring.
Instead, seek out wells full of water, people who are full of caring, support, and who meet your emotional needs. Drop your bucket into these wells and you will find yourself finding the caring and compassion that you need and deserve.
Clinging to toxic people will only cause you unimaginable pain and suffering. Let go of them and seek out someone else.
Sign Two. You still resist change even when it is positive. Living your life afraid of change is not only not healthy but also futile. Change comes to everyone and to everything. Even the universe changes from moment to moment. Change is inevitable.
Train yourself to not be afraid of or resist change. Try living in the here and now and enjoying everyone you can and your life. Work with your therapist to practice mindfulness and learn the beauty of being grateful for what you have and not to worry about the things you don’t.
Sign Three. You still fear failure. Survivors often find themselves so afraid to fail that they become stagnated in their lives. They are afraid to reach out or to try something new. Fear of failure is a crushing and disabling condition.
The only way to defeat the fear of failure is to step out and do whatever it is you think you will fail at. If you are afraid of failing a college course, take it anyway. If you are afraid to make a new friend, try to anyway.
With each success, you will find yourself growing stronger in faith for yourself and, even if you fail, the world will not end. Sit back, think, and examine what went wrong and consider it a lesson instead of a failure.
You still struggle with reaching out for help. Many of us who have experienced extreme trauma in our lives will resist asking for help. That is, until we learn that the best thing to do is to reach out and ask for it.
Often, we fear rejection from the person we are reaching out for, but if you have healed you won’t fear rejection or abandonment. You will understand that opening up to others about what you are having a tough time with will ease your mind.
Sign Four. Your self-esteem is still in the trash. Although healing lessens the way trauma has impacted your self-esteem, one’s self-esteem may not fully recover. However, that does not mean you cannot achieve a level of self-acceptance and self-love that is uncommon for many people to feel.
Spend your time thinking about the positives about yourself and stop trashing all the beautiful things about you. Look in the mirror each morning and tell yourself out loud that you love that person looking back at you. Do this because even with all your flaws, you are a worthwhile person who deserves to feel good about themselves.
Don’t Allow Yourself To Remain Stuck in the Past
Although we are all the culmination of what happens to us and our memories, that does not mean we cannot remain stuck in our past trauma. If you feel that you are caught up in the web of healing, you are not alone as there are millions just like you. This author has found her way through that same maze and it was a fight to get free. However, I have done it and so can you.
It may feel right now that you will never, ever heal. But, with persistence and hard work, there is absolutely no reason why you would not.
Work with your therapist, be honest with them, and try being honest with yourself too. Learn to celebrate your successes no matter how small, and above all else don’t give up. Someday you’ll look back at the moments of being stuck in trauma and shake your head in wonder.
You are strong. You are competent, and you are enough.
You have got to love the following quotes from Mandy Hale from her book, You Are Enough: Heartbreak, Healing, and Becoming Whole
“Sometimes it takes getting pushed to the very edge before you can find your voice and courage to speak out again. Sometimes it takes hitting that rock bottom to realize you’re done descending, and it’s time to rise. Sometimes it takes being told you’re nothing — being made to feel like you’re nothing — to help you see that you are complete. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.”
“But in the midst of all that uncertainty and lack of clarity, there lies a wild beauty. A hope. Possibility. The promise of something bigger than us happening just beneath the surface that we can’t see.”
“I’m still here. The doubt, the fear, the heartbreak, the depression, the anxiety, the insecurity: It didn’t win. The people who hurt me and let me down: They didn’t win. The disappointment and the failure, and the hopes and deferred dreams: Nope. They didn’t win either.”