If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’ve had my fair share of trauma. But in case you’re new here, I’ll do a quick rundown of why I’ve become an expert in the field of recovery and why that is how I know that there is life after trauma.
My Trauma Summary:
I was raised by a narcissist, meaning that I spent my entire childhood being emotionally abused and manipulated. Basically, I was programed to not only be a victim, but also to be grateful to my abusers. I was taught both to be an overachieving people pleaser, and to constantly take responsibility for other people’s choices. This led to me being physically assaulted at 18, sexually assaulted at 20, and completely destroyed when I was at 28. There were a lot of ‘little t’ traumas over the years as well, but these big ones are the ones that left me suicidal and unable to function in my daily life.
My Healing Journey:
To be honest, I’m still on my healing journey and to some extent I probably will be for the rest of my life. You see, trauma leaves physical changes in your brain. After your trauma, you are no longer the person you were before. You’re literally a different person. This means that you’ve got to learn a new way of life- that can mean new interests, new methods of coping, new people… there are parts of your life that will never be the same. See, you don’t actually get over trauma. You learn to live with it in a way that it doesn’t hold you back. But it will always be a part of you.
The ways that I’ve been learning to live with it over the last few years have been many, but the main two tools in my belt have been therapy and journaling. These are two things that I never really did consistently until after being officially diagnosed with PTSD, and realizing that I had to make changes if I wanted to survive. Over the last few years, I’ve been using both of these tools in order to rewire my brain, develop my self-worth and to establish boundaries in order to protect myself from further abuse.
I am constantly learning, changing, and adapting in order to continue growing.
I spent a lot of time figuring out how to survive, and then even more time trying to figure out how to change that into thriving. There have been missteps for sure and a lot of steps backwards. I learned a lot of things that I then had to unlearn. But I am so much stronger, healthier and happier than I’ve ever been. Because I figured out that I am worthy of love and happiness. I deserve to be treated well and I no longer apologize for who I am.
Life after trauma:
It took me a while to believe that I could have a life after trauma. That a day would come where I wasn’t struggling to find a reason to get out of bed or be able to go even a half hour without crying or having a panic attack. But now, I can honestly say that I have a wonderful life.
I have two amazing children, a husband who constantly reminds me of how much he loves me, an inner circle filled with wonderfully supportive women, and an incredible family that I see often. We’re in the process of renovating our dream home and filling our lives with mini adventures, and I’m constantly finding new things to get excited about. Starting emilyeverafterco and building connections with powerhouse women all over the country, plus being able to use my not so wonderful past to have a positive impact on the lives of other women- it’s all been very fulfilling and empowering.
Not every day is a good day.
I will be the first to tell you that life after trauma is a rollercoaster. Healing isn’t linear and sometimes we end up taking a few steps backwards. There are rough moments, rough days, rough weeks… Triggers can hit us out of nowhere and leave us feeling crippled. But you will also have your good days and as you continue to heal, those start outnumbering the bad. The bad spells might be shorter or easier to overcome and you’re able to be stronger and happier in spite of what you’ve been through.
I am almost five years out from my most recent capital T trauma and I still have my hard times. But overall, my life after trauma has been a good one. It’s actually been better than my life before the bigger traumas. I will never say that I’m grateful for the things that happened to me- they did not make me a stronger person. However, I am stronger in spite of those things and that strength combined with the work that I’ve done to heal have proved to be extremely beneficial for me. I am not the same apologetic people pleasing pushover that I used to be. My new boundaries, improved self-worth and confidence have even left me unrecognizable to some of the people from my past.
Life after trauma is what you make it.
If you do the work to heal, I promise you, it can be pretty wonderful. You just have to decide what you want, what you will accept, and what your deal breakers are. Set your boundaries, evaluate who has access to you remember that you are not alone. But most importantly, do what you need to in order to thrive. You deserve to have an amazing life full of love and happiness. Do not let what happened to you hold you back and keep you stuck.
To sum up:
You are amazing, your feelings are valid and you are allowed to take up space. You’re not alone and it’s okay to take a step back during your healing journey every so often. It’s important to do the work- fill your tool belt with things like journaling, therapy, affirmations, a supportive circle, etc. And you HAVE to set boundaries.
If you ever need someone to remind you of any of these little pointers, just let me know. I’d love to help.