Healing from Trauma

Experiencing traumatic events hurts deeply and can result in scarring for life, with some going on to develop a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There are people who experience trauma but don’t get scarred for life, depending on factors such as their belief systems and how they handle the trauma.

For healing to occur, it is important to experience and process the emotions and to also have the right support systems. People who are stopped from grieving and expressing themselves are likely to suffer longer, as happens with people who believe that experiencing pain is a sign of weakness or lack of faith. Suppressing the emotions or trying to forget them forces the pain to go inwards, wrecking havoc.

The stages to recovery

Stage 1: Numbness

The pain and shock from the trauma is too much for the individual to handle so they just shut down and seem to be in a trance. It is like they have gone into hibernation. They have lost touch with reality and seem not to be functioning. This is the body’s way of protecting itself from destruction.

The person should be given space to go through the stage, without lectures and trying to reason with them. A person who is at this stage might hardly eat, which can worry those around them. The body is functioning on the mere basics so the demands are minimal.

Stage 2: Experiencing The Feelings

Once the numbness stage passes, then comes the stage of experiencing the pain. The traumatized individual wants to talk about their pain over and over and again. They tell their story without ceasing. Many people find it disturbing to listen to the story and try to silence the person with words such as ‘The person is in a better place now. It was God’s will. They are no longer in pain.” Others tell the person that the incident already passed so it is not good to keep on talking about it. 
If we want a traumatized person to heal, then we have to let them talk about their pain for as long as they want to talk about it no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. This stage can go on for months, sometimes on and off. It can be confusing to the people around the hurting person, who seems to get over it then weeks or months later they go back to the same thing and begin talking about it all over again. 
We have to listen no matter how difficult it is to do so. That is the support that the hurting person needs. It is not about you and your comfort; but about the wounded person and their journey to healing. The more freely a hurting person can speak about their pain, the faster they will heal.
Some hurting people choose to write about their pain while others draw. Whatever route the person chooses should be respected and they should not be stopped. They should not be taken on guilt trips about what is acceptable and what is not. 
Sometimes the hurting person wants to visit the site of the traumatic event, such as the grave of the loved one. They will need all the support to do that, but they should not be stopped. If they cry, scream, talk endlessly, blame God or whatever works for them, they should not be interfered with. That is not the time to give lectures about what is right and what isn’t. 

Stage 3: Taking Action

A hurting person identifies with the hurting of others and feels a kind of solidarity with them. They want to reach out to other hurting people and make their journey less painful. A hurting person might go out and volunteer or comfort others and the person can work tirelessly helping others. It is a normal part of the journey to healing. 

Stage 4: Being Reborn

Isn’t it surprising that many people who have achieved tremendous success have experienced tragedy in their lives? Do we wonder why this is the case? There is truth to the statement ‘what does not kill you makes you stronger.’ 
There are many people who do not experience full healing from trauma. They remain weak and vulnerable and some are destroyed for life. Others die prematurely, because their pain kills them. But for those who go through the stages to healing correctly and heal, they become stronger than the average person. 
Being in touch with one’s vulnerability and pain can do one a lot of good. They get to understand themselves and to find clarity about their life’s purpose. They can become very focused, fearless and undeterred. Surviving a traumatic experience can bring out new strength and determination in a person. 

The Critical Role Support Systems Play

The support systems one has after experiencing a traumatic event are very important in determining whether the person heals or ends up destroyed for life. A hurting person who is lectured about how wrong it is to grieve is likely to end up crippled by the pain for life. 
A hurting person who is given permission to grieve no matter how painful or how long it takes and who also has people to hold their hands when they are being reborn, is likely to come out stronger than before the tragedy. 
The person might suddenly want to excel in poetry, art, music or something else and if they get the right support such as mentors or being linked up with the training they need to excel, they are likely to become exceptionally good at their new found passion. Some people discover their talents after traumatic events. 
Traumatic events are very painful and can leave life long scars but with the right support, a survivor can become transformed into an exceptionally successful member of society. 
Have you experienced trauma and would benefit from support to help you heal? Book a free session here
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter
Website: www.susancatherineketer.com
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