PTSD – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

“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.

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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…

Victoria McGee

8/23/2015

 

 

The F word that matters – Forgiveness

“Forgiveness… undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God.”                                                       A Course in Miracles

How can I forgive? How can you? How do we ~ as spiritual beings having a human experience ~ see past the chaos and horror in this world? How do we begin to forgive the darkness, and have hope again?

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Forgiveness is as necessary and intrinsic to healing from trauma as physical therapy is to healing an injury. It needs to be done daily, and in a manner that doesn’t hurt you, but stretches you. Forgiveness also doesn’t need to be rushed. When it is time, you feel it. And when you forgive, you will feel lighter.

Forgiveness is the skeleton key that unlocks the shackles of fear and rage we carry.

I have forgiven the person who raped me. I didn’t do it soon after, and I didn’t do it all at once. And I never forgave him to his face. That wasn’t necessary. He didn’t need my forgiveness. I needed to forgive him in order to move on with my life.

I went to a counselor soon after I was attacked, and she led me on a beautiful journey in my mind to a safe place, where I could confront my attacker and then offer forgiveness. This was horribly misguided as it had only been a few days since it happened. I was still in a state of shock, disbelief and confusion. It did nothing to help me feel better and start healing because it was too soon. I had to back up about a month later, dredge it all up again, and let the rage happen.

Then I could start healing and forgive.

Whatever trauma you’ve been through, understand that if you’ve been victimized in any way, you will have gurgling pots of rage to slog through. If you don’t spend some time there, it will show up on your doorstep wearing a very ugly mask when you least expect it. Don’t get stuck in the anger, but allow yourself to feel it fully so you can get past it.

Forgiveness is a process, as is all of healing. Do as much as you can, when you can. And know that is all you need to do. Forgiving isn’t easy. It takes courage and faith of a rare kind. And when you’re ready, Spirit will surround you, lift you up, and imbue you with everything you need.

Nothing is as inspiring to me as stories of great forgiveness. The woman who forgave the young man who murdered her son, and is now his advocate and mentor. The young woman who forgave her father for molesting her, seeing him for who he was and knowing that not forgiving would keep them both in chains. The people of the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston who spoke out about forgiving the shooter at their church so “hate won’t win.” Concentration camp survivor Eva Kor, who calls herself a “radical human being” has met with and forgiven former Nazis from Auschwitz. She stated, “It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation and self-empowerment.” Amen sister.

So how do we get to forgiveness? Not by yourself. Ask God for help. And ask again. And when you think you’re done, ask again. You’ll know when the wound is completely healed. And your immense bravery will astonish those who know you!

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” This thought is so profound to me. Yes, we have been crushed, but in offering forgiveness, our essence remains and rises above – beautiful and victorious.

“…all forgiveness is a gift to yourself.” ~A Course in Miracles

Victoria McGee

 

 

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All Together Now – Why Me?

Anyone who has experienced a trauma, suffered injury, or been a victim of attack has asked the question; “Why me?”

As we struggle in the aftermath to make sense of what has happened, we find ourselves questioning everything. Why did this happen to me? Why now? And the big one: Why did God allow this to happen?

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Now this gets into some heavy-duty spiritual semantics. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I use the word God to mean what I perceive as the energy of Love in the universe. You can call it the Divine, Yahweh, Buddha, whatever works for you.

A Course in Miracles states that which is not of Love is not of God. This makes sense to me. It lets God off the hook in “allowing” horrible things to happen. At some point, we have to accept the fact that sometimes horrible things simply happen. And we need to fill our hearts with the knowledge that God was right there with you.

And perhaps God is just as shocked and dismayed as we are.

It boils down to this question. Can we accept that there is randomness in the universe?

In his wonderful book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner comments on this randomness and chaos we are subjected to.

                        “…In that case, we will simply have to learn to live with it, sustained                                       and comforted by the knowledge that the earthquake and the accident, like                            the murder and robbery, are not the will of God, but represent that aspect of                          reality which stands independent of His will, and which angers and saddens                          God even as it angers and saddens us.”

So there is randomness that occurs outside the will of God? That is one of the most comforting thoughts I’ve come across.

I became a student of A Course in Miracles soon after I was raped. I struggled with these questions daily. As I quoted from this book in my last blog, “There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent. There is nothing to be feared.” I knew somehow there was truth to this, but I was constantly afraid. And I felt I knew places where God was not.

But I also knew I had called on God immediately to be with me, to sustain me, and if I was not to survive this, to comfort those left behind. And I felt the Love of God in that moment, and in the months and years to follow.

So what is God’s will? I used to think everything was pre-ordained and the things that happen to us are all God’s will. Not any more.

I do think we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I’ve come to think of God’s will as a poker game. In life we are dealt certain hands. Sometimes it’s God’s will, sometimes it isn’t. How we play our hand is what counts.

Do we fold (pack it in, give up)?

Do we stand (stuck in the bitterness of what happened)?

OR

Do we draw (on the compassion of God and those around us) and see what the next hand will hold?

Your healing path may involve folding or standing at times. But if you don’t eventually draw, you can’t open to the possibilities of joy in the future.

Why me?

Why not me?

Why anyone?

We don’t know, but let’s hold hands, keep our face turned toward the Divine, and get through it together.

“Love, which created me, is what I am.”

-A Course in Miracles

Victoria McGee

August 8, 2015