Never good enough
For me, there is no “overcoming” childhood trauma in the sense that it no longer effects me in any way. It will always have some level of effect on me.
At one point I was exploring the concept of grief (a friend/mentor had died unexpectedly) and came to the realization that grief is not something you move through and past, but something that moves through you. I had always imagined it as a forest that you entered, walk through for a while, and eventually exited. But that was inaccurate. It is more like the wind. Sometimes it is still and you cannot feel it at all, and other times it is so strong you can barely stand, but it is the one that is moving and changing around you while you stand still or walk through it. It is never gone completely, but it’s also never going to always be there in a debilitating way. It moves through us in a perceptible way until it doesn’t.
So the goal is not to “overcome” it. In my experience, these are the four steps that will help you heal and thrive after surviving abuse and/or trauma:
- Accept that it happened.
- Eliminate self-blame.
- Show empathy toward all your feelings.
- Remember you are valuable.
To be more specific, 1. Accept that what happened DID in fact happen. Blocking it out or bottling it up won’t make it go away, it only prolongs the healing process. 2. Recognize that you are not to blame. Nothing that happened to you was a result of your own actions and nothing about who you are as a person means you deserved it. 3. Show yourself empathy for any lingering feelings about what happened. All your feelings that are a result of your trauma are valid, whether that’s anger or fear or sadness or relief or a lack of feeling anything at all. and 4. Remember that it doesn’t effect your value or self worth as a person. You are NOT dirty or damaged or less deserving of respect because of what happened to you. You are still strong and loveable and deserving of respect and kindness.
Working on those four steps will the easier it is to move through life without dragging the weight of your abuse behind you wherever you go. You may not be able to “overcome” past trauma, but you CAN survive it and live a happy, fruitful life despite it.