I have been doing trauma work for roughly 18 months now. When I started, I remember hoping I would be finished in at least a year, if not sooner. I don’t know why putting a time limit on it was such a big deal for me, but perhaps it had to do with needing to “get better.” At the time, I didn’t think I would “get better” until we finished the work.
Well, it’s been about 18 months and we still aren’t done. I don’t know how many more months we have, nor do I really care. We’ve worked through A LOT of memories. We haven’t worked through all of them, and while I didn’t believe this would happen, there are some memories that I really don’t feel like I need to work through. I’m at a place now where some of my trauma memories are just memories. I don’t have flashbacks or feelings attached to them. Of course I do have a handful that come up regularly, and I have some new ones every once in a while. I still get dysregulated over trauma stuff sometimes. However, in the past 18 months, I have learned how to practice mindfulness, breathwork, and yoga (on and off my mat) to prevent me from staying in that place of fear and dysregulation.
Last night, I was very upset over the idea of being captive to my traumatic experiences. I think one of the reasons it was so upset by this is because I know what it feels like to be held in captivity to the hell of trauma memories that resides deep within my body and mind. I know all too well what it feels like to be physically, mentally, and emotionally tormented by the pain of something that happened to you 20+ years ago. I know what it’s like to fear sleep – because the real demons show themselves in your dreams. I know how impossible it is to try to function every single day. I know that when you’re captive to your traumatic experiences, when they have taken you hostage, you can’t survive without finding a way to numb the pain.
The majority of the time, I don’t feel that way anymore. Most days, even if I have flashbacks, I find things to do that help me feel better. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, cupcakes, writing, talking to my shrink, laying on my bolster, mindfulness, reaching out to friends, and taking a break from trauma work are all tools that free me from captivity. Because I have worked my ass off for these last 18 months in therapy, I am not trapped and tormented by my traumatic experiences. When I don’t use my tools, then I am captive.