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There’s no fool-proof way of 5-step plan to unlearning trauma. If there was, I think I would’ve tried it by now. The truth is, trauma is scary. Not only when it’s happening, but trying to live with it after. I’m not a licensed therapist or trained professional in this area, but I do feel qualified to share my own traumas and how I’m working through them.
Some of the ares I’m working through and traumas I’ve experienced are having Lyme Disease. I missed two years of high school and lost out on so much. Fast forward to college, I was sexually assaulted at a fraternity my sophomore year of college. It was extremely public and the months after it were almost just as difficult. Fast forward to meeting someone who became my fiancé. I lost myself in the process.
It’s been hard to admit and come to terms with, but it was abusive and toxic. We were engaged for 4 years and together for 5. We owned a house together and that all shattered when he ended it all. Fast forward AGAIN, my parents announced they were divorcing, I had a scare with colon cancer, I was laid off from my job, I moved across the country, and then my ex-fiance got engaged.
I have a lot of triggers and trauma. I’d like to think I’m a cocktail of fun at dinner parties.
A friend recently texted me that her significant other wanted to go on a vacation to where she used to live. I thought about it and my heart sank thinking about my own life. Even if I find somebody (and I know I will) what happens when I go back to MY hometown?
How hard would it be to bring my significant other back to a place that’s painful? Not just with my engagement ending and the relationship there, but the traumas of Lyme disease, my parents divorcing, and all of the triggers I’m still afraid to face.
Of course going back to those places is going to hurt. The other person isn’t going to the place dreading it or have the same triggers. They’ll look at this as a vacation and get to meet people that are important to you.
So while things are painful and scary, they have the opportunity to replace those old pain points with new memories. They can remind you that you’re loved, worthy, enough— in that place.
Unlearning trauma is learning to not let it define you. It’s hard and scary. I know firsthand how easy it is to identify as your trauma and make it your identity. In high school I was the sick. In college I was the girl who was assault. Then I was someone’s fiancé. And then I was the girl who wasn’t.
What we go through shapes us into who we are, but we don’t have to let it dictate how we love ourselves.
Do You Love You?
I saw a quote that changed me— “If someone asked your for a list of things you love, how long would it take you to list yourself?”
I thought about it for a long time. How long would it take? Of course, now that I’m cognizant of that quote I’d list it sooner. But before I don’t know if I ever would get to it. I never felt like I was worthy of love. The traumas I’ve endured felt like prerequisites for what makes someone unlovable.
If you’ve gone through something and you’re triggered. Don’t fight it alone. Even that is just starting by reaching out to someone and telling them you’re not okay— nothing can replace therapy, but surround yourself with good people.
It’s okay to face your traumas, but make sure you’re equipped to do so.
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