I am now Learning to live Comfortably after Trauma
A new life and comfortable home are in progress after the many years I have spent recovering from trauma. The question is, can I get used to it?
I spent all my life from an early age enduring trauma after trauma, from rape, violence, break-ins, life on the streets to losing everything. After going through this for many long years, I am now changing it. I feel safe where I live and secure in my home, however I have a tough time adjusting, and I constantly have to reassure myself that I won't go through all that trauma again.
Long after trauma has occurred, one spends much time worrying, anxious and scared that it may repeat itself in future. It can feel like a never-ending battle of having to reassure myself that I am safe, even though deep down I know I am. I've never been safer, I live in a community with nice people, I have a nice town by the sea, and my home is in the process of being re-vamped. I am also starting to establish a career in writing for myself, and most of my relationships and friendships are good. You might be saying to yourself "It's in the past now, live your life." I am living my life, but that doesn't mean the memories just fade. I now must go through the process of learning to live comfortably. Something that is not easy to do.
Many people who have always had a secure, safe home and have not come from a broken lifestyle might not understand this process. I have to spend a lot of time alone because my husband works and I do not live near my family, and as we are restricted, the majority of my friends cannot visit because they live far away. Spending time alone can be extremely difficult, because in the past, I was alone with small children when the worst of these traumas occurred. However, my time is occupied with doing my home up, sorting the garden, studying, writing and many things. All these things give me confidence and strength. The more I do them, the more I learn, and the more I learn the more strength I gain. So far, I have done an excellent job of learning to be alone, however, I have been training myself to be alone for many years. Training to be alone after so much trauma can be a terrifying experience because it is when we are alone that we often hear the loudest of our thoughts, which in return can set off our triggers. I deal with this repeatedly, facing those triggers and self-soothing by keeping myself busy. There are days when I can have a repeat of anxiety, but the more I do it, the more this anxiety starts to fade
At the moment, my anxiety is a bit difficult to manage outside. The world feels scary because of the pandemic and all the restrictions, and it is made worse by the fact I am often asked why I don't wear a mask. I don't wear one because it reminds me of a time when I was raped with my face covered, and anything covering my face can cause a panic attack, and this is the same with face shields. I use an exemption badge and I do my best to keep my distance, but still the stories and seeing others wear masks can also be a trigger. However, I am not keeping myself locked up, I still go outside for walks, shopping and essentials, but also due to the fact a family member I looked after had COVID-19 and I witnessed enough to know what this illness can do, I try to stay at home as much as I can. Doing things this way, reduces the anxiety, and I always find a way to help myself without putting myself in a position where I need medical help because of it. In fact, I am proud to say, I haven't needed medical help for many years now, although I'm not afraid to reach out and talk when I do need it. To be managing in this way, feels good and I'm getting better at it every day.
My home is changing, there are many comforts here that I am not used to. I have always been used to not having good furniture, decent carpets, being unable to decorate, clean and look after myself. Now it is different because I am managing those things. I often end up telling myself I don't deserve it. When you get used to living with traumatic events and end up with everything you love including loved ones being torn from you, you often punish yourself because your mind makes you feel guilty for the things in the past that you could not control. Of course, my wise mind tells me I do deserve this new life I have worked hard to change my life! However, after many years of struggling in traumatic circumstances that led to myself not being able to provide these things for my family for years, it takes a lot of getting used to.
It is not all doom and gloom though. I will continue these changes, because only one person can change my life and that is me. I do not want to live a life punishing myself for the things I have been through. If I could have avoided going through those nasty things, I would. However, it is time for me to leave the blame where it belongs, with the perpetrators and the people who failed me and my family. One thing I have learned, is that I do not have to keep reliving this trauma I have been through. I deserve more and I want more from my life now, in the moment, while I am still alive. The past is gone, it can't hurt me anymore. Every day I am working towards the security, stability and happiness that I have always wanted, and everything I am doing teaches me to live comfortably after trauma. It is difficult, but the more I do it and the more I try to enrich my life by learning new coping skills, the more I am learning to live comfortably after trauma.