What Can I Do Now? #7 Trauma Trigger

When we have past trauma, we never know what will happen that might trigger a memory. We can be in a conversation, reading, watching or listening to something, the list goes on. Well, today was one of those days for me. I read something that brought me back to a very dark time. I’ve done a lot of trauma healing and integration work in this area, so I’m grateful I’m aware that something is coming up. I once was scared of it, but now I see it as an opportunity to see both my progress and what is still haunting me. What can I do now? Well, the Universe answered this one for me by making sure I was lined up to talk to a safe person about what was coming up.

If you are wondering why I say the Universe lined it up, it’s because I had a recording of Seeds of Wisdom scheduled for today and a trauma trigger surfaced from a passage I read in the guest’s book. I LOVE when this kind of stuff happens, and it happens a lot. It’s like I get a little nudge that I’m ready to take a deeper look at past trauma, and a safe landing space for me to process it appears—pretty amazing!

Now that the recording is over and I’m coming off the high of an amazing conversation with author Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, I’m ready to sit in the pain and see what it has to show me. In her book Badass Stories: Grit, Growth, Hope, and Healing in the Sh*t Show, she gives journaling prompts, WHAT?! Again, I’m being handed a true gift. Not only did something I’m ready to process deeper come up, but I got the prompts to walk me through it. What can I do now? JOURNAL! I find journaling and letter writing to be the two most effective tools to use when I’m really ready to spend time in the pain, but also want to get it out from being stuck in my body. If it’s still coming up, it’s because it was stuck.

I’ve had to process multiple traumas and I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel in my body and my mind when I’ve processed something all the way through. I don’t have an emotional or physical reaction if I’ve processed the trauma. For instance, I can talk about my rapes and I don’t feel any tightening, anger, or grief. I can read, watch, or listen to things about rape and feel for the people experiencing the pain, but I don’t feel it over my past rapes anymore. When I talk about that dark time, it’s just something that happened, and I learned a lot because of it. That is not me skirting over it either, I’ve done the work. Just to give a little perspective, the last time I was raped was over thirty years ago, and I’ve done A LOT of work on it over the past three decades. I just want to make it’s VERY clear that I didn’t get to where I am about it over night or by denying the pain of processing it.

When I still have work to do, I often feel a tightening in my stomach, get weird aches, and feel tension between my shoulder blades. Sometimes I can even feel a tightness around my throat. These aren’t always the same. The body sensations depend on the type of trauma and feelings around the trauma. The one thing that is always the same is that there is a tightness, and in EXTREME cases, a jabbing pain and nausea.

One of the ways I knew that the story I read got to me is that I felt that tightness. When I read it, I felt it in my chest. Now, I feel it in my throat, most likely because I’m working through speaking my truth in a vulnerable situation. Oh yes, are bodies are quite the guides when we learn to listen and understand them.

Once I journal to get clear, I can take a deeper look at what is coming up. Most times after doing that kind of writing, I sit and breathe for about 15-minutes. The body presence helps me to see if there is anything more that needs to come up or if I’m ready to decide—what can I do now? Sometimes the answer is nothing, other times I will write a letter and then burn it. That’s my way of releasing what I’m fully ready to let go of.

I see trauma triggers as gifts because I’m getting the opportunity to work through them. The healthier I get, the more opportunities I get to help others. I can’t do that from an authentic place if I’m not willing to face my own pain as it comes up.

“Before we can see clearly, we have to allow the pain. If we try and bypass the pain, we are bypassing proper healing.”

Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Badass Stories

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff, author of Letters from a Better Me and host of the From A Loving Place with Author Rachael Wolff podcast

Next on Seeds of Wisdom…

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