Repairing your heart after trauma
I’ve seen a lot of terrible car wrecks lately. I didn’t actually witness the crashes happening, I was one of the many passers-by gawking at the wreckage, feeling lucky.
Mangled metal and shattered plastic. Did anyone get hurt? Did anyone die? Yes, and sadly, yes. The survivors of these accidents and the families of the victims are forever changed.
Who do you know who has been in a bad accident or who has lost someone in a wreck?
Did you/he/she get unconditional emotional support? Were you/he/she listened to with patience and compassion, even after telling the story a hundred times? Did your loved one’s show understanding and empathy for the process of healing?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you are missing ESSENTIAL components of recovery from a traumatic experience. There are no substitutes for unconditional support, patience, understanding, and empathy. Friends and family members usually are not able to provide sustained support FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES. They get tired of hearing the story, they wonder why you can’t just “move on”, they give well-intentioned advice that is occasionally helpful, sometimes ridiculous, and sometimes harmful.
To move through trauma recovery as quickly as possible, you need and deserve professional support. Most people who have witnessed or been in a traumatic event need the following:
a. to feel physically and emotionally safe as quickly as possible
b. to tell the story repeatedly
c. to have a physically safe space they can return to regularly (home, bedroom, therapist’s office, etc.)
d. to discuss the event in addition to telling the story of what happened
e. to integrate the traumatic event into their life story (as a chapter in a book, instead of making the experience the defining moment of their entire existence)
Let’s stop staring at the wreckage and get to work together on repairing anything that feels broken.