Psychological trauma recovery requires help. It requires input from others.
It requires support, to be heard, to be witnessed, and sadly, because it is rare, it requires being understood.
Empathy can go only so far and not ever be enough. A victim of psychological abuse probably has and gives more empathy than anyone they know can provide to them in return. As much as it may be received in bits and pieces, to truly feel understood and heard requires another resonant warm-blooded being. It requires evidence of another who might have experienced something similar, who might be somewhere close to where we are on our journey, or who might have walked the same path.
This confuses me, for how can there always be someone who has been there before? Who was the first and how did they heal? Is service the only way to heal and make sense? Possibly.
Sympathy too easily becomes toxic. Help without empowerment is narcissistic and takes as much as it gives. It disempowers. I personally see sympathising as a form of bullying and abuse, driven by self-importance, hijacking by partaking in using the already scarce resources around someone who is desperately trying to heal and be heard. To me, personally, sympathy from others feels malicious, harming, even if I cannot describe and get it out in words just yet. Maybe this is personal to me… who knows? This is one piece still stuck in the dark as I haven’t found that soul who can hear me on this.
Where to find a witness? Surely not in the dysfunctional environments, family systems or relationships, work or personal where the problem surfaced. Surely not within ourselves where the problem originated, but maybe in a courageous choice to seek help, to admit that we are not truly independent and that we do, in fact, require help.
Support groups, such as in the 12-Step programs work. Why do they work? 12 Step programs work because they offer listening, empathically, without fixing. They also offer structure and support to start stepping into when everything about oneself has been destroyed and obliterated and one cannot even remember how to get through a day. (email me for info)
Healers and counsellors work, but only if they have dealt with or are dealing with their own pain. No academic learning can provide the compassion, authenticity, integrity required to facilitate the healing of another soul.
It is true that healers study darkness. We study the dark shadows of our own souls, our own experience, we continue to seek the light. We continue to appreciate life despite the onslaught and attack on our own right to exist.
We need to be heard as much as we listen.
We heal through our work.
Our work of service is intimately connected and integral to our own processes. It is where we make sense. It is where we understand. It is where we find the purpose in the pain and wherein life becomes bearable, or even joyous.
We teach, in order to learn. (email me for session info)
Why we need a witness, as far as I have come to understand (so far..), is because with trauma we become disconnected from our selves, our truth, any form of Higher Power, God, The Universe, our own spirit and our vibrational existence drops down so low and dark that we need another soul, even if it is a furry, warm-blooded, animal friend, to help us stay connected with life, through providing the tangible and visual evidence that life does still exist and to give us some form of warmth, evidence and reminding us that there must be meaning somewhere when all feels lost.
Through the recovery process, these witnesses hold the space for us when we have none, they gently aid in our own witnessing and coming to terms with, accepting that what happened really happened. Slowly slowly, we become able to look at it and not be triggered, not react, not shy away from our own being or power any longer… If we choose.
Recovery is a long road with no shortcuts and no overrides. Support is so very much needed until we can learn to stand independently, not in isolation and connected again.
Author: May van Reenen (08 June 2021)