Sometimes it’s hard to see that you are in crisis by the time you get there. That’s where I was 6 weeks ago. Crisis. When we reach this spot, we have almost certainly developed extensive numbing/coping mechanisms to survive the situation. So not only do you have to work your way out of the crisis moment, but then put aside the unhealthy coping mechanisms. Fun times.
I have spent the last two decades of my life focused on growth, inner healing, freedom from control and manipulation, and the pursuit of intimacy with God and others. To say I’ve learned a lot is an outrageous understatement, but I am an experiential learner which is a much slower process than others. I have bemoaned this fact about myself more than a time or two in my life. It means I have to experience and fully go through a situation to understand and redirect my choices, to stop repeating unhealthy behaviors. While this can take longer than I want and get me into plenty of nasty situations that I then have to work my way out of, it also means I deeply experience the goodness, joy and peace and walk away with understanding, incorporating it into my life in a practical way with the language to communicate it on the other side. I am able to take it down into my spiritual womb and let things come to life from that place. However, getting there has been a road of suffering, mourning, pain, heartbreak, and disillusion that I didn’t know if I would survive. But survive it I did, and now it’s time to begin to tell my story, wrapping language around the lessons I’ve learned to hand them out in a form that can be taken in and become life in others. This is what I’m here to do; put language to things we feel and have trouble understanding, create a picture for it, and help shed light on why we feel and think the way we do so we can get to the bottom of what drives our unhealthy cycles and break them.
Breaking unhealthy cycles is a long, arduous process that is near impossible to do without support. You have to start at the beginning, identifying and unraveling core issues to begin rebuilding foundations and belief sets. Because our behavior is driven by what we believe, it is imperative to identify the beliefs that are continuing to derail what we want to accomplish in our lives, whether that’s relationships, our work in the world, or pursuing a dream.
However, when trauma is involved, there is another starting place. Trauma responses (involving PTSD and CPTSD) hijack moments of your life, stealing away your ability to choose what you otherwise would if you weren’t dissociating/reacting due to a trigger. So to stop unhealthy cycles you first have to address the trauma and begin to heal, which is it’s own category of beast.
I’ve been in trauma therapy for 6 years now, and finally found my way out of an ongoing, chronically retraumatizing situation. Yes, it took me getting to the point of crisis before I found the way to choose a different path to walk, but I think that this just speaks to how desperately we need to be educated about how our bodies and emotions communicate with us. When we learn to listen and trust what our emotions and bodies are saying, we can begin to navigate the world more fully informed. We were created with emotions to be sign posts, always pointing to something that is true. But we have been lied to and told that our emotions deceive us, need to be subdued, and that we should override what we feel with what we think. But this is just ignorance to how emotions function and lack of the development of emotional intelligence. Developing emotional intelligence involves learning to listen to what we feel, noticing what is going on in our bodies, and asking questions to discover and interpret the message coming to us. This is more intuitive for some, but it is a necessary skill we can all learn to develop to some extent. We must develop all of the tools we’ve been given to walk through our lives whole heartedly, present and fulfilled. I don’t think we ever “arrive” at the end of this road, but it is something we can always lean into and become more grounded in.
Now that I’m out of crisis mode, it’s time to begin to live out the things I’ve learned. I’m so thankful for this new year and new Hope in me to do just that.
More to come soon. Until then my friends, be brave — feel the feels. We can walk out of the dark together.