Keeping the Faith: Trauma and Connection

Guest post by Emma Skogstad

Being a trauma survivor can be lonely, but it can also offer opportunity for deep connection.

So this holiday season, I want to encourage you to begin your search for Faith Keepers, if you haven’t already done so.

Who are Faith Keepers? They’re not necessarily religious, but they are holy, and they are everywhere. They are friends, therapists, family members, spiritual healers, psychiatrists, doctors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, religious leaders, sponsors, meditation teachers.

When you’re ready to invite them into your life, you’ll see that they’re probably already very close. So how can you tell when you’ve come across a Faith Keeper? Here are some ideas.

Faith Keepers are the people who help us heal.

Opening up to them can be difficult at first, because they will challenge everything our trauma has convinced us is true about ourselves.

For Faith Keepers have good eyes. They can clearly see the truth of who we are, and they will help us see, too.

Faith Keepers intuitively know that trauma survivors are fierce, strong beyond imagination. They know that dissociation was adaptive, a brilliant survival mechanism. They know that flashbacks are messages from our psyches and bodies that old wounds need healing.

Faith Keepers know that we are not our wounds–that we are so much more. And they know there is no suffering that love cannot soften, no story too awful to be told, heard, grieved, processed, and transcended.

Faith Keepers know that the nature of pain is its belief in its own permanence. They can always remind us that everything changes, even pain that is so pervasive it feels as though itis us.

Faith Keepers never say, “You can’t do this without me.” Instead, they say, “I’ll help you do this until you’re well enough to do it for yourself.”

They never say, “I know what you need.” No, no. Instead, they say, “I trust you to know what you need.” Or “We can figure it out together. “ Or “I will help you find others who can help.” They know there are always an abundance of options, even when we see none.

Faith Keepers make mistakes. They may do or say insensitive or confusing things. But they are not afraid to be wrong. They apologize. It would never occur to them to try to make us wrong for their errors.

Faith Keepers know when to sit silently with us in our fear and remind us to breathe. And they know when to challenge us to act in spite of our fear. Because gentleness is critical. But so is confidence, and we built confidence by doing. We make heart connections when we act with courage, not without fear but in spite of it.

Faith Keepers don’t know how to help us just because they’re smart or even because they’re trauma survivors themselves (although both of these may be true). They know because they’re paying attention, in the moment, right now.

And they trust we will learn to pay attention too.

And this is when the magic happens.

Because when Faith Keepers reflect for us the truth of who we are, we naturally, gently begin to see others more clearly. And then, when friends call us lost in their own pain, we find ourselves a keeper of the Faith. We suddenly, seemingly inexplicably, have faith for them that we once couldn’t have dreamed of finding for ourselves.

Then, we know that the true healing has begun.

For faith is not belief. It’s not magical thinking or a trust in something we don’t know. It is a deep connection, a knowingness built from experience, that life is lush, rich with much joy and always calling us home to our own well-being.

Find your Faith Keepers, fellow survivors. And flourish in their love for you.

Emma Skogstad is a freelance writer in Austin, Texas.

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele.





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