In the depth of my struggle with birth trauma and thus the darkness that invaded my life, the search for ‘my cure’ became an endless battle. I was desperate, and the need to fix myself and recover consumed my thoughts and my days. I would have tried anything. I researched until my eyes hurt as much as my mind. It was a never ending quest to banish the monster that walked with me daily.
Medication, tapping, challenging my thoughts, hypnosis, positive thinking and other techniques all became part of my repertoire. A juggling act of hope, hope that something, anything, would work.
Of the many therapists I saw, few offered comfort. At the start I would be told they could cure me, that they would be my answer. I would often have worksheets thrust at me, things to do over and over, or boxes and diagrams to fill out. Yet when I didn’t improve, when my cure didn’t happen, frustration would result from my therapist and I would be told that the failure of the ‘cure’ lay with me. ‘I wasn’t trying hard enough’, ‘I wasn’t practicing enough’ or ‘I wasn’t doing it correctly’ became the things I heard constantly. I was told to move on, to forget my trauma, to get over it. I was told I was missing out on life. One therapist even said to me that I liked suffering and that I was causing it all myself!
So the darkness grew deeper. I became more lost. Guilt consumed me, I felt defective and to blame for all the hurt I believed I was incurring on myself and those I loved.
Healing seemed impossible for me.
The turning point came when I was given a safe space to talk about my trauma. When instead of dismissal I was listened to. It wasn’t in a therapists office, but in a room of women where our birth stories mattered. For the first time empathy and love was held out to me, nothing more. This was for me what I needed most. I then saw a therapist that had been through trauma herself and knew it intimately. No worksheets were offered, no quick cures were promised, instead I was given my voice, in a quiet room where I could speak from my heart, cry and lament the pain that I had held for so long.
Then slowly something happened. Instead of looking to others to cure me, I realised that healing lay within me. I didn’t need a cure, I needed compassion and understanding. I needed acknowledgement for what I had been through. I needed to be listened to, a kind heart and a safe space. What I also needed was to know that how I felt mattered, that my experience was important. I needed to know, and accept, that it wasn’t my fault and that no matter what I should never give up.
While this could be done with the help of others, ultimately it came from within me. Others could guide me, support me and give me the space I needed, but the rest came from changing how I felt, and dealt with my trauma. Also an awareness of how my trauma had affected me in the past, but also now. That I could choose to no longer let it control me and that recovery was possible. With this came also the acceptance that I wasn’t to blame, that I wasn’t a victim but a survivor.
There was no magic cure, no secret way to fix me. Instead I needed to see that while I was changed, I was still me. Healing came from accepting the changes, and growing from them. Healing came from knowing I wasn’t defective but hurt, battered and bruised and so would need time to recover. Healing also came from instead of trying to fix what I saw was a defect in me. That what I actually needed was to be kind to myself and let go of what I felt I should be doing, to seeing what I was doing, and how far I had come in my journey.
Healing doesn’t mean that the pain never existed. It doesn’t mean we forget. Healing instead means we see our experience in a new way, as something that is part of us, that from time to time will still bring us pangs of pain but is no longer in control of us. Trauma doesn’t have to define us. It is something that we have survived yes, but it isn’t who we are.
Healing also means taking the strength that lies within us and letting it grow, like a seedling that though buried in the dark pushes forth to reach the sun. With each step, with each small victory, our strength and steps to healing increase. We must also nurture this strength using the support of others and asking for help.
Healing is possible, it is deep within you. Find your seed of hope, grow and nurture it. Let others, guide and support you. Yet most of all believe, believe that you can do this. Healing is your journey. Everyday rejoice at how far you have come. Every step no matter how small is a step to recovery.