By Courtney Howard, See the Triumph Content Creator
Do you still carry a suitcase of trauma experiences wherever you go? Lugging around heavy emotions and memories from the trauma endured can be both physically and emotionally draining for the domestic violence survivor. Unpacking these thoughts and feelings and putting them away can be helpful in reclaiming peace of mind, body, and spirit. As the new year offers opportunities for exploration, change, and healing, I encourage readers to evaluate their past and present in order to move forward into a new life.
First, explore the contents of your trauma suitcase. What kind of traumatic memories have you been harboring over the years, and how has holding onto these memories affected your well-being? It can be scary at first to reveal past-trauma so try to explore at your own pace. It is okay if these memories are tucked away deep; remember, processing takes time and self-compassion.
Second, identify the magnitude of emotions each experience has caused. Being aware of emotions surrounding trauma will allow greater peace within the survivor once this is recognized and processed. It is normal to feel a range of emotions: hurt, anger, sadness, guilt, and even shame are all valid and should be honored.
Third, throw away the trash. You are not required to carry the burdens of the past and it can be damaging to do so as you heal. Trauma survivors have repeated exposure to targeted attacks. Not only is this hurtful, but it can severely damage the self-esteem and self-worth of the survivor. In order to move forward, separate yourself from the negativity to which you have previously been exposed.
Fourth, as you move forward into this new beginning, survivors are encouraged to recognize sources of resilience within themselves. You are a survivor! And have come so far. It can be helpful to stand before a mirror and practice reflecting back positive aspects of self. These self-affirmations can assist with change and healing over time. It can also be helpful to reward yourself with self-compassion, recognizing your courage in navigating the trauma endured.
Fifth, close the lids on the traumas of the past that you have packed away and move forward into tomorrow. Letting go of these is experiences is not hiding from them, but instead offers space for the survivor to process and grow. Now that your suitcase is empty, you are ready for a new adventurers as you embark on a new life.
Domestic violence survivors have experienced chronic trauma and it can take time to sort through the emotions, memories, and the effects of these experiences. Unpacking your trauma suitcase is one way you can reclaim peace in your life. Continue to be kind to yourself, honor your journey, and begin life anew.
Courtney Howard is a Counselor Education graduate student at East Carolina University and is passionate about helping others heal and grow.
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