Something that helped me immensely on the healing journey was to get educated about the manifestation of trauma and the impact that abuse has on survivors and their well being. It was especially helpful in the beginning of my journey, when I was still in denial about the abuse I suffered and how it impacted me.
I thought because I was out of the house and away from the person that was abusive that I was fine. I did not understand that I had spent my life in fight/flight/freeze mode and that because of it, I had developed behaviors and habits that had served well to protect me from the fear and pain, but that those habits were no longer helpful but toxic to my body and soul.
It was in support groups that I slowly identified what my coping behaviors were. That I was not my coping behaviors and that many of my core beliefs were false. When I realized this hard truth, I was devastated. If I am not who I think I am, who I have been for the last 20 years of my life? Who am I??
After letting the sadness and grief come up and working through it over a few years, I realized that no matter what I had been through, I was still here. And deep in my heart of hearts, I was committed to uncovering the truth and to learning what I had found to be a truth that I was starting to believe in: that every single one of us is here to learn about love. That we are all unique and important and have gifts to share with the world. It just took a few more years until I discovered what mine were.
As I read countless books on trauma and attended many conference on trauma, I heard all about the impact the trauma had on my mental, emotional, physical, and social well being. It was hard at times and I would feel triggered and have flashbacks. But I kept going.
It was when I heard about the ACE study (link to the ace study) that it all came together for me. I heard the scientific proof that the toxic stress of my childhood had set me up for a long list of physical, emotional, and mental health issues that would manifest in my life sooner than later. It was brutal. I can still remember holding onto the chair I was sitting in, to not run out of the room, but I am grateful today for the truth I heard then.
It pushed me to really focus on my health and wellness and now, 10 years later, I know that I have reversed some of the impacts by relentless self-care, mindfulness, and a balanced life style. Though I am always a work in progress, I became determined to life fully. To claim my birthright to thrive and live wholeheartedly. It became my new lifestyle and each year, I set a goal for myself that helps me grow, learn, and thrive as a human being in a healthy body.
So what I want to encourage you, my reader, to take away from this blog post is to start to focus more on your balanced and healthy life style. It truly is the path for healing your body/mind/spirit and creating more meaningful and connected relationships with yourself and others. It is the path to what we all want, to feel connected and feel that we belong and are loved.
You can have that and feel that. Just start today and start small. Slowly create new healthy habits that phase out the old habits/behaviors that you learned when you did not have a choice. Now you can choose you!
You will wake up one day and recognize that you have the power to change how you feel, that you can choose peace and joy, no matter the circumstance and start to feel grateful for the body you have been given to experience love, gratitude, and connection to those you love and care about.
So make this year count with a small beginning or a new step towards your fulfilled and healthy life. It is worth, it. You are worth it!
I believe in you...always.
Svava Brooks is a survivor of child sexual abuse and the co-founder of a nationwide child sexual abuse prevention and education organization in Iceland called “Blátt áfram.” She is also a certified instructor and facilitator forDarkness to Light Stewards of Children, as well as a certified Crisis Intervention Specialist, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, a BellaNet Teen support group facilitator, a Certified TRE® Provider, and an Abuse Survivor Coach.
The mother of three children, Svava has dedicated her life to ending the cycle of child sexual abuse through education, awareness, and by helping survivors heal and thrive. She is a certified facilitator for Advance!, a program created by Connections to restore authentic identity. Every week she writes about healing after trauma on her blog, and also leads a discussion forum on Child Sexual Abuse Healing and Recovery online.