Posttraumatic Growth and the New Year.
On the journey of healing, the early years are the hardest. The shifting child's point of view, which led to the situation that got you into therapy, creates emotional overwhelm as the reality of the past settles in. The grief can be debilitating. Identifying as a survivor, and feeling the pain of the betrayal, sets you apart from the world, because the grief can be hard to take, and there is often little understanding in the workplace if you need time off, because it's not like having the flue.
In the next stage, it becomes easier to return to childhood, and go through the various stages of healing, because you then know that the pain won't last forever, and that the personal growth and integration will match the depth of your journey inward. But, it becomes harder to participate in the mindless pursuits of many of your old friends when you are more aware. You don't need to escape by drinking or drugging or overeating anymore. You might not even want to work as hard, if you were escaping your pain through work, and you question the purpose of your ambitions. Even as you lose friends, your compassion for all beings increases, and you may become vegetarian, further putting you apart from mainstream living.
In the final stage, you successfully use your healing tools to ward off depression and anxiety, and observe your mind to connect to younger parts in yourself that seek expression. You are used to breaking through your shame, and move through the growth process without unnecessary pain, with more grace. You probably derive a great deal of pleasure from providing service for those who come after you, because service gives meaning to life, and by connecting with those who are where you once were, your own healing expands.
In the past weeks, I've been enjoying a host of symptoms of Posttraumatic Growth, after a monthlong of hardship, in which I relived the terror around the greatest betrayal I experienced in childhood, which also endangered my life.
· I am connecting with people on a deeper level, better able to instantly find the innate goodness in each person I meet.
· I find myself smiling more easily, and notice my smiles are bigger, yet never forced.
· I am better at self-discipline, making time to do an entire yoga series every other day, and I enjoy the resulting increase in energy, strength and overall health.
· I notice that, unlike when I practiced this yoga series in the past, I experience zero weight-loss, and more important – there isn’t a single part of me that cares.
· I applied for the first time for a big contract, without feeling overwhelmed about the requirements or fear that my organization is not far enough along for this job, or that I didn’t have enough time to complete the application. A few months ago, I applied for a small contract, and though we got it, I was perfectionistic, worried about getting the paperwork in order for “the authorities.” During the recent big contract application, I was able to insert myself more – there is more integration and common sense. I was more concise, more honest, and more confident than I was with the small contract.
· I have more patience with my daughter, and letting go of results I want for her. I am more able to be truly supportive instead of letting my fears exacerbate hers.
· I’m better able to always see how cute and innocent my pets are, no matter what they do. We communicate with more clarity, and they are more affectionate.
· I am taking better care of my plants, and they are responding and look amazing. Before, I watered them maybe once a week, in the idea that is what they need. I am paying attention to them now as living beings, with more love.
· I value myself more. I canceled a talk that required travel and only paid a small token fee. On the same day that I sent out the cancellation email, I received one saying travel and lodging would be paid. In the past, I would have felt guilty and probably changed my mind back again, but I didn’t accept the offer, knowing I would not be okay with the time and effort spent without proper renumeration.
· I keep on noticing that I don’t care what I look like, or rather, I notice how much I did care previously, when I secretly believed that I didn’t care much. Feeling more comfortable in my own skin, the outer package, or the vehicle, just is what it is, I spend much less time in front of the mirror, putting on creams, etc.
· I rearranged my entire house. I placed a small desk at my bedroom window, which looks out over a peaceful garden, and I’ve been working from that brand new favorite spot. I can’t believe that I never thought of placing the desk there before – that I never saw it. The house also is completely neat for the first time in many, many months. In re-organizing the furniture, everything feels more spacious and makes more sense.
· Before, bill statements would pile up, while other “to do” stuff would be lying around. I’ve opened every letter and taken a moment to either file it or pay it, without procrastinating.
· I am able to get out the door more quickly. Leaving the house had forever been triggering. The change helps me to realize how much simple daily aspects of life were still dictated by past trauma. To be able to leave without getting confused, without having to run back because of some forgetfulness, is amazing and freeing, and yet it is so new it still feels strange.
All these changes are the manifestation of overcoming fear, and aligning more thoroughly with love.
In 2013, I arrived at a point in my healing where I felt I could simply be me. I was healed from a lifelong guilt complex that left me always convinced I must have done something wrong or bad, complicating every interaction. After this latest growth spurt, not just I, but everyone and everything else just is. Order comes more easily as my mind has been restructured, and my skies are clear.
This is truly a new year. Everything has been made ready. I'm not sure for what, just know that it is positive. I'm ready for what's next - whatever that will be - working not for my healing, not for my empowerment, not for my enrichment but in service to my Greater Power. It took decades to undo the exploitation from childhood, to come to this place of surrender. The relationship with the divine is the most deeply personal, and all the love I receive comes from that same single source. Happy New Year.