Survivors Speak: Realizing and Discovering the Need to be Proactive, Part 2

PTSDRealizing and Discovering the Need to be Proactive, Part 2

by Kris Marowski

Being proactive for me is an affirmation of my self.  It proclaims “I matter!”  It is a statement of faith in my self and a set of behaviors that indicate I am of value.  Being proactive means that I believe I have a right to receive those things which I need, to feel nurtured and loved, to enjoy and to feel happy.  This approach to being in my world did not happen all at once.  It is, rather, a series of choices and periods of learning.

My first choice involved deciding that I would remain alive.  I’ve made that decision multiple times, during two separate traumas, and following, when I chose not to commit suicide.  In each circumstance, I understood that death would offer a relief from overwhelming physiological and psychological pain and horror.  I understood, too, that by making the choice to give up, and later to end my own life, I would cause others to feel hurt, pain, or loss.  I could not cause others to suffer in such a way.

Staying alive was also a deep, resounding cry into the world, a refusal to believe and act in accordance with the message communicated via the traumas I experienced.  My response, however unconscious it was, in the form of my life, was emphatic.  I am of worth.  I do deserve to survive. I am powerful.

Over time, the idea developed (and was coaxed into existence) that I might enjoy being alive, that I might have fun and experience joy.  I grew to accept this and actively work toward it because of and for my children.  I wanted them to have a mom that was there for them, that played with them.  I needed them to have a mom that they remembered as nurturing, loving, and fun.

I began completing homework assignments from my therapist.  She would ask “What one thing can you do today that is nurturing and fun, for you?”  I went to the park with hot fudge brownie sundaes and watched the geese, I put on the kids’ music and danced or did movements with the songs to work through flashbacks and panic attacks.  I walked outside while the kids rode their bikes.  I made pancakes with chocolate chip eyes and whip cream smiles, I decorated gingerbread houses, I drank hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.  I started exercising.  I joined an online support group for people with PTSD and posted about my experiences.  I began offering support for and sharing with others.  I also shared many of the things that I used to enjoy doing, and, with encouragement, began doing them again.  I participated in a few research studies being conducted on PTSD symptoms and healing.

Slowly, I became willing to express, with increasing honesty and accuracy, what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing.  I gradually allowed myself to experience vulnerability and work through the fear associated with being exactly who and where I was in that moment.  As I received validation from others, it became a little easier and less risky to reach out and to be open.  Some of the residual panic from the trauma, associated with allowing others to see me in need, eased.  I began to enjoy myself more and I wanted to be with and around people again.  This resulted in a passion to heal and overcome.

I started investigating the process of healing and how to heal most effectively.  I created through art (drawing, sculpting).  I practiced utilizing imagery to process and work through things I was struggling with.  I learned and started practicing yoga and Tai Chi, I went for massages and/or reflexology treatments on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I spent time in the water nearly every day exercising and just sitting or floating.  I developed rituals and celebrations, on days not associated with the traumas that allowed me to honor my family, my children and my self.  I increased my knowledge of and incorporation of spiritual healing principles into my daily life.

Each symptom evolved into an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to overcome.  Relationships that I had formed provided support, encouragement, and chances to share information and hear about how others were healing.  Days became experiments to me, times when I could explore who I was, who I was becoming, and what I wanted to chose for myself and my family in the present.  I still focus on each day in this way, as a possibility and as a triumph.

My focus, how I view each day, what I think about and what I do are the results of actively choosing and working to heal, my faith in and commitment to myself, my proclamation that I matter.  This means that I work to quiet the negative thoughts from the trauma that still linger and sometimes re-surface, it means that when symptoms re-cur, I choose again to enjoy life, to be there for my kids, to express myself honestly and accurately, to reach out, to heal.  When I have experiences that are difficult to cope with, that cause the trauma to re-surface, or when I have a really intense trigger, I might re-visit my decisions, my faith, my commitment, and my proclamation.  Initially, this meant that I went through this process many times an hour, a day, a week.  As years have passed, I re-visit my decisions less frequently.  However, I recognize the cyclical nature of healing. I acknowledge that it is all the more necessary to be proactive, to anticipate stress, triggers, and emotions/thoughts that could be defeating because many things can result in a return to a previous period in the healing process.  It helps me then, to know how to respond; to have an awareness of what is soothing and healing to me and what is soothing and healing to others.  As I grow, change, and heal it becomes necessary to meet needs and cope in different ways.  What helped me to work through something in the past may no longer work, or it may not have the same effect. I am always learning, I am always experiencing and practicing, I am always growing and changing, I am always healing!

Next week part 3.

Read last week’s post ….

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

 
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