Seeking Safety: Week 4 of Trauma Recovery Group - Recording My Story


 
To read Week 1, click Here.
To read Week 2, click Here.
To read Week 3, click Here.


Hearing your trauma story, in your own voice, has to be one of the most difficult and perhaps one of the most powerful experiences one can have.  This past week in Trauma Recovery group, it was my turn to record my story aloud in front of our small group and to then take this recording home to re-listen to daily and re-record at least a couple of times.

During the class, I was so scared. I was anxious. I felt embarrassed about my story. I was comparing my pain to others and thinking that maybe it was unjustified for me to have such a severe experience (flashbacks and reactions, for example) when others, according to my evaluation, had been through so much worse.  I felt it was very important to talk about these issues before recording so that they didn't interfere with the process.  The doctor reminded me to have compassion and to never compare your trauma with others', as each person is unique as far as their sensitivity and reactions to events.

With a greater sense of acceptance, I moved forward.  I spoke my story.  We were supposed to speak for about 20 minutes. Although I don't feel that I rushed, my story came to under 12 minutes. I realized after we stopped recording that I had forgotten a couple of details, and I spoke about those.

I got very anxious about midway through my story. I began to feel all of the physical sensations and emotions that I had when the actual trauma occurred. It was overwhelming, but I also had the awareness that I was in the room at the clinic, on the floor, in a safe place, and it was so many years later. That was then, this is now. This is for my healing. At one point, I remember shouting out, "I'm so nauseous right now!" to which the doctor replied, "You're doing a great job."  I kept going forward.

After the group, I felt quite emotionally dysregulated, which was to be expected. My plan was to go home and watch Xfactor to distract with some entertainment that had very low potential for emotional triggers and to soothe through taste with some biscotti.  When I got home, I ended up putting on the show Parks and Recreation on Netflix.  By some bizarre stroke of chance, the topic was so closely aligned with the neglect/trauma incident that I had just spoken about, as it was about people having the flu so severely that they were in the hospital for dehydration.

I wondered if I should watch it, especially before bed.  I felt I was strong enough and that maybe it would help me laugh at the situation, as I often find this show so quirky and funny. So, I watched it.  I felt a bit anxious at parts and I also did get some giggles. It helped me make light of my fears a bit.

That night and all day yesterday, though, I noticed that I was experiencing physical symptoms like those that I described during my recording: feverish, chills, and such. I kept taking my temperature, but I in fact had no fever.  It seems I was generating these symptoms as part of PTSD flashbacks. Our minds are so powerful!  I am determined to keep going with this process so when future flashbacks happen (and hopefully the will diminish) I can handle them as flashbacks and not interpret them as present danger.  This will help me live in so much less fear, which will be wonderful.

I kept comforting myself through the experience, reminding myself that the incident happened long ago. I am safe now.  It helped a lot to continue grounding, as in the past when I would have these vivid flashbacks, I would run to the emergency room.

I am proud of myself for this.  I am not going to sugar coat it: this work is NOT easy.  Who wants to remember and put a magnifying class on past trauma? It's not something that most of us want to do, and that's what makes it so hard, but I am determined to overcome this aspect of my pain and further heal on my journey.

For homework, we have the following assignments this week:

  • Listen to the recording everyday (I skipped yesterday, as I was too overwhelmed), and re-record it at least a couple of times before the next class.  While listening to the trauma story I became very anxious, but I also noticed something else: IMMENSE compassion for the eight year old child I once was. When I heard myself crying on the recording over how scared I was, I shook my head and imagined holding and comforting that child part of me. How frightened she must have been. My embarrassment went away. I understood that as an eight year old, that experience must have been terrifying. Compassion for one's self is very healing.

Thank you so much for being by my side and witnessing my journey. I'm half way through the group at this point.

More soon.

To Read Week 5, click HERE.

6 comments:

  1. I'm amazed by your self-work and resolve. So immensely proud of you, as I know how hard working through trauma can be. I'm not where you are yet, and I found myself comparing and judging myself a bit as I read this. My biggest struggle with radical acceptance as of late, is accepting where I am in my trauma work and allowing it to take the time it needs. So much of me wants to just spill it all out on the floor, but if I were to do that, I would be distancing myself from feeling it. I need to wait until I can talk about it *and* feel it. You're doing fantastic work! Much love!

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    1. Dearest Brittyn Aeshe,

      Thank you very much for your kind comment. It really moved me. I want to extend to you some compassion for that part of yourself that wants to compare and nod my head and smile at that part of you that is so keenly aware of the importance of being ready and willing to talk about it AND feel the feelings. That's a heightened sense of awareness that I consider advanced in the process.

      We are all at a different points, and it takes SO MUCH courage to do this work. And you're doing it. Huge love as we walk this walk together.

      ♥ Debbie

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  2. Congratulations Debbie on making halfway through Trauma Group! Reading this just now, I could feel the fear that "eight-year-old Debbie" must have felt, and feel so much compassion for her! You absolutely have no reason to be embarrassed at all. Hugs! <3

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    1. Oh, Joyce! I could feel the compassion come through your comment. Thank you so much for your words and for always giving such caring feedback to my posts. Huge hugs! ♥ Debbie

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  3. Hi Debbie, thank you so much for your bravery in sharing your journey through trauma therapy. I've been in therapy (DBT) for almost 3 years and a some point in the future, when I'm emotionally ready, I am determined to 'face the things that haunt me' through trauma therapy.

    Reading your posts is helping me to understand how I need to be able to use my skills big time to get through it before I begin and the skills you've mentioned are helpful in giving me ideas of ways to deal with flashbacks when I get them.

    I was scared to read this post in case it triggered me, but it didn't, & I'm so glad I did read it, as it's really spoken to me. Sending you hugs, strength & peace while you travel this healing path <3

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, shutterbug. I'm so glad you found this post helpful and that you are building up your skillset so that you are able to face your own trauma issues in the future. Excellent work! ♥ Debbie

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