“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. You always have the choice.” – Dalai Lama
PTSD is indeed the gift that keeps on giving. For most of us who have experienced deep trauma, we will deal with it on some level for the rest of our lives. When I shared that recently with a young Iraqi war veteran, he was dismayed. He wanted to know how to make it go away for good. I encouraged him to focus on the new truths he now carries with him; the sanctity of life, the futileness of war, the oneness of all people. I counseled him to go out and help others. It is the most unselfish way to selfishly heal. And I urged him to fight the gnawing drive to isolate. And I told him it will get better, so much better. But it will never be gone, and that’s okay.
There are different types of PTSD, some short-lived, some chronic and persistent. Whatever type of PTSD you may be dealing with, there are genuine gifts within it, if you choose to focus on them. And realize you could not have acquired these gifts any other way.
I may have mentioned in a previous post that I now consider PTSD and my circumstances a gift. This quote from Alex Elle is so true! “I am thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”
Each person will draw different lessons and gifts from PTSD. Here are just of few of mine.
- I learned that I have a strength in me that cannot be undone.
- I learned that my faith will truly support me through the unthinkable.
- I learned that I had a mission to help young women discover their strength and empower them.
- I learned to be more compassionate and tolerant of others because most people are struggling with something at any given point in life.
- I learned that forgiveness sets us free.
- I learned that healing is a perpetual circle of giving and receiving. I have received the most healing when in the act of healing others.
But what if you’re not there yet? What if all you see now is the terror, the ugliness, and the lack of humanity that led to your trauma? Please know that you will reach this point of recognition, if you take the path of light, not darkness. (By darkness I mean drugs, alcohol, despair, etc.)
Those of us who have walked the path can assure you that these steps will get you there.
- Keep going. One Day At A Time. Every day get up and try. Focus on what is good around you. Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Make one person’s day better. Soon a month will have passed, then a year, and you will be better.
- Turn to your faith. Whatever you call the Divine, keep It close. Put affirmations on your bathroom mirror, in your car, wherever you need it. Turn to God hourly, or as often as you can throughout the day. Healing will hurry to you.
- Get help. Go to a therapist who specializes in trauma. If you can’t afford it, seek help in your community. There are always free services for trauma victims. God will mend your soul, but your mind needs therapy. It will work in tandem with your spiritual healing to smooth your traumatic thoughts.
- Take good care of yourself. Spend quality time with yourself, your friends, and your family. Make a list of the things that bring you joy and start doing them again. Feed yourself happiness.
- Help others. Find places you can be of service. Feed the homeless, teach a class, volunteer to help the environment, etc. Anything you do in this regard takes you out of your drama and helps you remember your ability to contribute in a positive way to the human race.
Of all of these steps, aside from turning to my faith, helping others was most healing for me. When I’m helping others (for me this is teaching), I’m completely absorbed by the needs of my students and I know at the end of the day that I’ve truly helped and hopefully made a difference.
Re-claiming your value as a positive power on Earth is the key to your healing. It’s what will ultimately lead you to recognizing the gifts of your PTSD.
I put this quote on my email signature because it is the most important thing for us all to remember every day. It’s credited to J.M. Barrie.
“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”
Be at peace, dear friends and know that you are loved beyond our capacity to comprehend.
You are Still Beloved…