One of things that happened as I began to work my way through the varying traumas and difficulties that I had dealt with was that I began seeing with clarity.
This clarity was wonderful. I was no longer fixated on the event(s) or experience(s), and the beliefs, emotions, and other energies that congest and clog the body as a result of trauma began, and continued, to lift.
It is hard to describe how much psychic weight that we carry until it begins to lift off.
Or how much our reality is colored and constrained by our wounds until they are healed.
It is also hard to describe (to those who have not experienced it) that a significant spiritual release of trauma can immediately release an area of the body (have an impact on it physically, as in pain disappearing), release a huge amount of “stockpiled” emotions, and further out (once the release has integrated) have a profound effect on your life and general well-being.
One of my teachers used to describe this process as a “softening”, as when we are abused and harmed and coming from a place of woundedness we are sharp and harsh. Our bodies become stuck and hard or even can disappear (we will no longer register a body part as a part of ourselves) when we carry wounding, and when we become less wounded we experience more flow, more peace, and more understanding and compassion.
I do notice that people misunderstand compassion, by the way. Having compassion does not mean that you do not recognize a person as being cruel, or horrible or stupid or even evil, as a human being. Having compassion doesn’t mean that you allow for that person to violate you, leech off of your energy, or otherwise take advantage of you.
And some view any sort of boundaries as harshness. I have to say “no” to a lot of people, and have quite strong boundaries (you pretty much have to in this line of work, otherwise you will get sucked dry and burned out quite quickly) and some people invariably dislike me for it. But you can be quite soft and also have firm boundaries. This is a sort of paradox that can take people a long time to puzzle out for themselves, though.
Compassion also does not mean that you never judge others, or that you think everyone is the same… with the same value in understandings, realization, and intellectual capacities. If anything, clarity allows you to exercise discernment, and healing allows for you to have healthy and specific boundaries.
Compassion allows for you to simply see people as who they are, and to forgive them for being that way. It means that you can see how badly someone is struggling, or how misinformed or unbalanced they are, how much chaos and difficulty they have created for themselves, and feel compassion that they are suffering.
Compassion also allows for you to forgive yourself. When you have totally (or pretty close to totally) healed from something it doesn’t mean that you have erased it from your memory. It is something that you have experienced, and it has made you who you are. It also gave you strength, and wisdom. It has given you a depth of experience and soul that those who have not experienced such things cannot understand.
This is not a “your trauma is wonderful because it made you deeply feel” sort of thing, or me saying that the person who has experienced the most amount of trauma or the most difficult traumas “wins” in the personal depth/spiritual understanding arena… or even that the purpose of trauma and difficulty is personal growth.
But crisis is often a form of spiritual awakening, as is trauma. The most “spiritual” people who I have met– those lovely individuals who have depth and intelligence and can critically think and feel (and really make the best healers) are people who have suffered the most.
Again, not a contest. At all. But there is something about touching that void, of being not only witness but a part of a darkness where you can no longer deny its existence. And when you begin to work with that darkness, to understand and truly not only come to terms with it, but to recognize it as a vital force, a creative force, a force that can be befriended instead of pushed away and villainized… it can become something that you sit back with and reminisce with like two weary friends who have been through a war together.
When you work with such darkness it can be utilized as a creative force and a generative force… and you begin to realize and understand a certain depth of humanity that few gain access to. It is an initiation past a certain gateway, a threshold, and what is past that threshold can actually be quite beautiful and powerful in its own right.
This is if the healing process is seen through, though. Unhealed trauma means that we are stuck and constantly in a state of reaction and chaos due to emotions and beliefs obscuring and cluttering our system, we are trapped in time, frozen in an incomplete loop of when that trauma occurred. That part of us is separated, frozen in time, and comes out when we are reminded of the circumstances or emotions having to do with that trauma. We enact that trauma again and again until resolution is (hopefully) found.
I realize that people may be wondering what the official considerations of healing are. Meaning how and by what standards is something “healed”. To heal something (in my mind/clinical experience) requires several different steps, which all allow for the eventual processing and healing of a trauma:
- Recognition that a trauma occurred, and that it is impacting you. This may be difficult, even for larger trauma. Our mind is inherently protective, and we shield ourselves about things that are massively impacting us. Recognizing that even child abuse that is documented can be, in some small way, disbelieved as a part of this protective mechanism.
- Start to consider the trauma, either through meditation or exploration with a healer or counselor. I do recommend healers, by the way. Occasionally I get silliness from people who say things like “I should be able to heal myself” and you certainly can, and healing does come from within and all that… but a healer is a witness to our pain. Energetically having someone else in the room with us acknowledging the pain and helping in a skilled manner to release it or to diminish its impact is huge. There are some patterns that are too large, or we are too close to, or we are currently unaware of how to process, that we will not be able to heal ourselves.
- I say this as someone who has a lot of different degrees and certifications and has worked for a healer for over a decade now… if you are stuck, or a pattern is too much for you, or you simply do not understand how to heal a pattern, or would like to simply cut down on the time that it takes to heal something, find a competent healer.
- We also return to the idea that have personally “touched the void” of experiencing trauma and life events that they have then worked through, or seen the other side of. These people are rare gems in the healing world, and their ability to sit in a centered, grounded, and compassionate way… as well as a knowledgeable way (through direct experience) is something that is often life-changing for their (lucky) patients and clients.
- I say the above knowing far too well that people are attracted to healing because of their own issues. I cannot count the amount of therapists who have contacted me (yes, I am going to pick on therapists, but it is pretty well-known and documented by this point in time) who are non-functional, chaotic… and more compassionately, I would say… still attempting to work with their trauma.
- I also say the above knowing that the common cultural archetype of the “wounded healer” comes into play here. People really do have an increased capacity to work with something they have directly experienced. HOWEVER… this person should have made it through this list (of healing), including having a bit of distance from it so they are no longer reacting emotionally to their clients to be of service. If someone does not have enough distance from something, the healing work lacks clarity, and the session (which should mainly, if not pretty close to totally) be about the client becomes partially about the healer and their issues.
- Understand what happened from an adult perspective and provide closure
- When something is unhealed, it is like a broken loop. We just keep on energetically cycling things through our minds, and hold that loop within our bodies. Our former self could not deal with whatever was going on, so they energetically blocked themselves off. When this happens that loop just keeps on repeating again and again, drastically shaping our lives. By understanding what has happened from an adult perspective (rather than the wounds and needs of whenever the event happened), and by understanding what this “loop” and this former self need for closure, the loop will complete, and dissolve. As will the held emotions, beliefs that were created, and frequently, physical tension will release.
- Express Forgiveness for what has happened. I will return to self-forgiveness, but there is a lot of forgiveness needed in the moment here. This does not mean that the perpetrator was right (if there was one), or the circumstances were good. This is a huge hang-up for people, so I will say that a lot of truly unforgivable things happen to so many people each day that as a healer I am rarely shocked at what people bring to me about what they have endured. What this means is that the circumstances were awful, that what happened wasn’t right, that the person involved may be a truly sociopathic narcissist who should be locked up and have the key thrown away… but that you have worked through the wounds, the emotions and beliefs and understandings so you are no longer relating from a child (or whatever age it happened) level, from the wounds of that time, and have let go of the beliefs that were created as a result of that trauma.
- Basically, you may realize the total shittiness of what happened, but you can express forgiveness. You can understand what happened, you can realize it was not okay, and then you can forgive the situation, the people involved, and yourself for having to be a part of this situation.
- Stop wishing things would be different
- One of the markers of healing is that you not only have recognized trauma, understand its impact, release emotions and express forgiveness, is that you release the desire for things to be different… the “if only’s” we shall call them. You accept what has happened fully, have moved on from disbelief, have released emotions and worked through needs for closure. When you provide closure, that part of you stops thinking about if only: if only the circumstances, people, or events were different.
- This can be worked with even if there is not clear memories or 100 percent knowing of an experience. While I know that not 100 percent of people who feel as if they “might” have been sexually abused as a child have actually been sexually abused as a child, even the thought of “I wonder if something weird happened when I was a kid” is enough to start to explore with a healer or counselor why you may feel that way.
- Release the story
- This doesn’t mean that you do not still have the story, by the way. This has been really, really misinterpreted. Nobody needs to delete their past, or part of their past. What releasing the story means is that the loop is healed, it means that there is no longer a part of you fixated, obsessed with what happened. It means that that part of you is no longer frozen in time, screaming out for attention.
- I would state that this is perhaps best called a “change in story” instead. Because what happens is that when you realize the strength that has been borne out of hardship, the wounds instead of being large gaping holes, something that needs to be constantly mentioned and focused on (out of all of the other events in your life) to simply being a chapter in your story… one that has a lesser impact and driving force on the “character” (protagonist/you) as the story moves on.
- Express Forgiveness for Yourself
- This is the last one, and it is difficult. What came up for me after a significant amount of “closure” (what I have written above) is that the stories no longer cycled, the beliefs that were developed by trauma released, and I no longer held the emotions from various traumas, was that my adult self was grieving.
- At first this was grieving for how much I had been through. But what happens when you heal and provide closure it is as if you are no longer on several “chapters” of your book at once. To mix metaphors, I will say that our timeline is like a rope. When we experience trauma, there is a “knot” that develops in that rope. We are sort of frozen in time there. But the rope continues to move on, developing more and more “knots” as we get older. Some of these knots are larger, some small, but they all are taking up some of our consciousness. Meaning that our ability to “unknot” these knots one by one means that we will be an adult, and our current age… and not be inhabited by a bunch of two year olds or fifteen year olds or twenty five year olds all with different needs and opinions about our lives when we are forty.
What was interesting about this last part (expressing forgiveness) was that as I gained increased clarity (worked out a lot of “knots”) was that I had a lot of complex emotions about how my current, adult self felt towards what I had healed. I saw with clarity how much chaos and pain and suffering I had caused myself over the years because I was wounded. It can take a while to understand and express forgiveness for ourselves (for we knew not what we did, and so forth), but it is a part of the process once clarity has been achieved and some distance has been had.
To end, I will talk a little about my definition of trauma. I will say that some things that fall under trauma are quite obvious- abuse of all types and so forth. We can experience trauma in many, many ways, however. Any time that we were struggling and overwhelmed in our lives due to circumstances beyond our current capacity to handle would equal trauma. This is different for different people, by the way. For example, if we have a big “knot” from when we were an infant, our capacity to handle further life stressors when we are fifteen, or forty five, is likely greatly diminished. Unless we have done the work to heal, of course.
There is also microtrauma… which is the experience of trauma over time (things like poverty, homelessness, hunger, and so forth are good examples of this).
I will also say that the more “knots” we have, the more confused we tend to be. This is because we have a small (or large) crowd of “smaller selves” informing who we are and what to do with ourselves. We also tend to have a lot more chaotic lives the more knots we have. There also is a huge tendency for people with a lot of “knots” who want to explore spiritually who want to consider anything but those knots (people who want to explore past lives, ancestral history, and things like external energies impacting or “attacking” them, but have “skipped” the step of considering how their own timeline impacts them), but I will stop.
It may seem like a long road, and every single person on Earth has experienced trauma of some sort. It is always a personal choice if we want to (or are ready to) work with such things, of course, but it certainly can be done. Even if one of those knots can become a bit looser, you will notice a difference, and see the impact it has on your life. It is always good motivation to move forward, even if some of the knots are a bit more difficult than others to release.