You don’t have to share your trauma. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. Whether you choose to keep it to yourself or share it with the world does not make it any more or less valid.
I do recommend having one person that you can talk to. Whether it’s a trusted friend or family member, a therapist, or even an anonymous forum… I know from experience that not opening up at all can lead to a full blown mental breakdown and can make it harder to heal. But my point is:
You don’t need to tell the world what happened to you in order to be allowed to fully feel it.
I have unfortunately been through a fair amount of trauma in my life. Some of it I have shared with friends, family and even strangers. Some of it I haven’t shared with anyone other than my therapist and my husband. My feelings about each situation are still equally valid.
I can’t remember where I read it, but someone said you need to share your trauma because it could be what saves someone else. And I get it- I know reading about other women who’ve been through what I’ve been through has helped me. The whole ‘not alone’ thing. You could totally be that person for someone else, and that’s awesome if you want to. I’m here to tell you that you do NOT have to. You are responsible for healing and taking care of yourself. You don’t need to be anyone else’s hero.
I’ve also read things like “Well it couldn’t have been that bad if she didn’t tell anyone.” That’s also complete bullshit.
Odds are, half of the shit you will read is bullshit.
A lot of the time, even the people who do share their trauma don’t necessarily share right away. A big reason is for some of us is that we are ingrained with a victim mentality and therefore convince ourselves that it was our fault or that we deserved the bad things that happened to us. Sometimes we feel shame, despite the fact that it wasn’t our fault. Maybe we’re in denial. Other times, it’s because we’re afraid of judgment or the way that people might look at us if they knew. They might think we were weak or stupid. Or maybe they’ll tell us we’re overreacting because other people have it worse. Sometimes talking about it makes it too real or can re-traumatize us.
A lot of the time, we’re just scared and find it hard to trust anyone.
There are a million different reasons that people choose not to share their trauma and every one of those reasons is valid. Whatever your reasons, it’s your story and you get to be the one to decide whether or not to tell it. The same way you get to decide how to feel it.
My point is, whether you make the decision to share or not to share, you’re making the right decision for you. Either way, your trauma is valid. Your feelings are valid and they matter. You don’t need to justify or explain why you feel the way you do. Heal at your own pace and do what feels right for you.
Don’t let anyone pressure you either way.
Again, I do recommend connecting with one person just to help you process. Before I started talking to a therapist, I bottled everything up inside and tried to pretend that it wasn’t real. I thought that if no one knew, than I could pretend it hadn’t happened and make it all go away. What ended up happening was that it kept building up inside me and I started having a really hard time keeping it all together. Panic attacks, constant crying and nightmares became my new normal and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Once I found the right therapist and was able to let it all out, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I had someone to help me navigate through the mine-field that my mind had become, while doctor-patient confidentiality meant that I could still keep my privacy.
I’m a huge advocate for therapy because it quite literally saved my life…
That being said, I know that it isn’t for everyone. If it’s not for you and you want to keep your trauma private, there are so many forums or anonymous groups online and I’ve found a couple of them to be very helpful in the past. If you really don’t want to talk to anyone, try journaling. Anything to help you not drown in your thoughts.
And as always, remember that you matter. Please don’t ever let anyone make you think otherwise.
Click here for more on mental health and self care.
And in case you need it, here is a link for MyPTSD, which is a public but anonymous forum. I am not associated with this forum at all- It was just one that I came across in the course of my healing journey that seemed to touch on all different sorts of trauma. If you’re looking for forums more specific to your trauma, a quick google search will probably turn up a bunch of them.
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