One of the challengers that I face on a daily a basis, on my journey of recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) is having to manage and cope with what I can only call, at times, the daily onslaught of mental and emotional processing that comes up as a result of my past pain and trauma.
Mental and emotional processing, and how to handle it and ‘do’ it, for me, has been one of my greatest and most challenging lessons to learn . Over the years though, I have learnt how to feel, allow, listen to, accept, express and release my pain, emotions, thoughts and feelings in a conscious, healthy, boundaried, non judgemental and self compassionate way. All of this being what I call the process of processing. This has allowed me to not only heal myself and release the pain and underlying levels of trauma from my past but also it has taught me how to love, accept and care for myself . This has allowed me, in turn, to uncover and re-discover the truth of who I really am.
I have learnt over the years that the feelings, thoughts and emotions, that we have held deep within as a result of our trauma, come up into our awareness and consciousness when they are ready to be healed and when we are strong enough to hold them, hear them and process them. When they arise, we can choose to ignore them, deny them, resist them and suppress them. But ultimately at what cost?
Healthy processing of these voices, feelings and expressions of the many wounded parts of myself has helped me to not only heal and become whole but also has helped me to live a more joyful, peaceful, happy and ‘whole’ life. In a more open, honest, true and authentic way. At the same time healthy processing has also has helped me to realise that in those moments when I do resist and suppress my feelings and do not want to deal with and take responsibility for how I am feeling that I am continuing to harm myself in a way that only perpetuates the original trauma and wrong doings…damaging, denying and harming myself.
The feelings, thoughts, beliefs and emotions that I process on a daily basis sit on top of layers and layers of deep seated trauma that were laid as early foundations of my life with each experience of my CSA. Whilst acting, back then as coping mechanisms and survival strategies, these once useful, necessary and life saving resources now not only need to be released to allow me to heal and re-claim back my life but also need to be listened to, expressed and heard, in order for me to be truly free from the tirades of my past, so that I truly free to be ‘Me’.
I will talk more about the ways that I process emotions, feelings and thoughts in healthy, boundaried ways in a later blog as well as sharing with you the ways that I have learnt to self care and support myself during very intense moments of mental and emotional processing.
There are many days for me when I am not only having to deal with the weight of my pain and trauma but also when I am having to find ways to just get through the day…to survive it all. The sheer weight of that pain and trauma overwhelms me at times on top of the demands, stressors and challengers of day to day life. Which right now include going through a global pandemic, moving house and raising a toddler!
There are moments, as I navigate my way through it all that it can feel like it is just all too much. In those, and all the many other moments I can feel overwhelmed, exhausted and a real sense of despair. I can feel powerless, frustrated, agitated and confused. Ungrounded, anxious, terrified, irritable and resentful. When my world feels chaotic and overwhelming, I can feel like I am not able to cope. I can feel suffocated, like I’m drowning or am unable to breathe. I question, with deep feelings of anxiety and terror whether I am capable of not only managing how I am feeling but also of surviving it all. I question and doubt whether I have the strength, the ability and resilience to face, and get through, another day of it all…and whether it is all in fact worth it!
Whether I will be able to survive and make it though is something in each of those moments that I have no assurance or guarantee off. I can only try in those moments to trust and have faith in myself. Knowing that I have done it before and have survived many times over and over before. Feeling helpless and hopeless with moments of deep despair I can question whether it will ever go away…and if it doesn’t ….how much more of it I will be able to take!
The healing journey is long, arduous, unpredictable and uncontrollable and the main way that I have learnt to navigate my way through it all is to learn how to self care and in turn accept and love myself as I am, past, present and all!
The incessant arising of pain, trauma, feelings, thoughts and emotions that ultimately need to be heard, expressed and healed (processed) is unpredictable, uncontrollable and relentless. You have no control when something is going to come up . A flashback, trigger, memory, can be reignited in an instant…by a comment, sight, sound, smell, taste and even a touch from another. ….Simply just by you living!
Feelings, sensations, memories and thoughts can flood your body in an instant, taking you over in an uncontrollable way that , to the unaware, can render you as weak and powerless as you were in the very first instance when they took hold in your body at that first moment of abuse.
When memories, feelings, thoughts and flashbacks come up…they can hit you hard and knock you flat to ground in an instant. I’ll often say after days and nights of heavy processing that…I feel like I’ve done a round in the ring with Mike Tyson. Because that’s how it can feel at times. Re-living and experiencing trauma can leave me feeling knocked out… flat out, exhausted with nothing more to give. And more than that, with a feeling that there is nothing more that I am going to be able to take and survive in that given moment.
Processing and the healing journey is a 24/7, 365 day a year process…it’s continuous…no breaks, no time off and no allowances for you having an off day or for you simply having too much other stuff to do. The need to process does not consider your circumstances, day to day challengers and stressors or whatever else you have going on in your life….and it certainly doesn’t consider the fact that you are exhausted, that you’ve had enough, that you feel like you can’t take anymore…… let alone just need to have a good night’s sleep! Triggers, memories and trauma come up to be processed day and night. 365 days a year!
I’ve realized, on my healing journey, over the years that healing from CSA, and the processing that comes with it, is going to a life’s work and journey for me. And over the months and years I have been fine tuning my craft….my knowledge, awareness, skills, abilities, tools, resilience and resourcefulness that has enabled me to self care, self love and support myself as much as I can through this very challenging, intense and demanding part of my journey of recovery.
Below are links to further blog posts on the subject of Processing Trauma in which I share with you:
More on what Processing means and the ways that I process emotions, feelings and thoughts in healthy and boundaried ways,
My favourite ways that I use to help and support myself through periods of intense processing, and
The ways that I juggle Parenting and processing
Our need to process, heal and release ourselves from our past can never go away or stop if you want to live a whole, conscious and authentic life.
I have learnt over the years:
To accept that my need to process my unhealed wounds is part of my healing journey and cannot be avoided, and
That it will pass, and that I CAN handle it!
Although I can’t control it I CAN not only help myself through it but also become a better person because of it through learning how to self care. I hope that this blog post and all the tools and resources that I share on my blog can help and inspire you on your healing journey.
With my love as always until next time