Happy Holidays from PTSD

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”                      ~ Albert Camus

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Whatever your spiritual beliefs, we recognize that December is a time of holidays and religious and family gatherings. While those around us look forward to the delights of this season, survivors of trauma often find this a difficult time to navigate. Whether you suffer with PTSD yourself, or live with someone who does, it’s important to be prepared and know that whatever you bring to the season is enough.

For some survivors of trauma, the holidays may be good. For me, it was a rare opportunity to sleep deeply, without fear. For others, the holidays themselves may be when their trauma occurred, and the fight or flight instinct is awakened, despite their best efforts. As we are surrounded with images of love and light and innocence, we may re-experience the grief our trauma brought us; of never quite feeling that profound sweetness of innocence again.

Though that may be true, and we may indeed be changed in irreparable ways, we can still find hope in taking charge of our perspective, in taking care of ourselves, and in taking control of our holidays.

“The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but each time it hit again and I bore it…I would discover that it hadn’t washed me away.” – Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott so perfectly expresses what we trauma survivors know too well. The surprise and fear that feeling something so deeply can bring. It’s like being in the ocean. The same water that lets you float suddenly grabs you and pulls you under!

But we rise again to the surface and discover, “…it hadn’t washed me away.” If we can keep acknowledging that, each time we have a flashback, or a bad day, or a bad night – we haven’t washed away. We are here, and we are doing the very best we can.

If the holidays tempt you to feel struck down by waves (of memory, of family, of expectations, of anxiety) take time to notice that you are not washed away. Keep your perspective focused on your progress. You are here and you have gifts yet to give.

Next, take care of yourself. This is non-negotiable. As a survivor of trauma, you need to be doing this anyway, but even more so at the holidays. The holidays may hold more triggers for you than at any other time of year. If you are not rested, mindful, healthy and balanced, triggers will sneak up on you. Be your own best friend. Don’t neglect the Divine, or the Divine in you, for the sake of pleasing others. Show up when it feels right, and you can bring your best self. If you’re in doubt, ask yourself if a holiday experience is going to drain you, or fill you up? There will be the answer.

Finally, take control of your holiday. If crowds give you anxiety, avoid big parties or malls. If big family dinners are difficult, perhaps join with a smaller part of the family for breakfast, then find a place to be of service instead. You may need to create new rituals to honor where you are in your healing. For some, there is a need to be with family. For others, there will be a need to serve. Some will feel the old familiar need to isolate, but I urge you not to. If you need isolation and alone time for balance, that’s fine. But avoiding the holidays altogether will not serve your highest healing. And that is what the Divine wants for you.

Perhaps all we need do during the holidays is focus on the best ideology of this time of year. Give to yourself and each other: Peace, Light, Hope, and God’s Love.

“This Christmas, give the Holy Spirit EVERYTHING that would hurt you. LET yourself be healed completely that you may join with Him in healing, and let us celebrate our release together by releasing everyone with us.”

~A Course In Miracles

 

Take good care of yourself. Find in yourself, your “invincible summer.”

You are Still Beloved.

Victoria McGee

12/06/2015

 

 

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TRAUMA & RESTORING FAITH

“Faith is not a belief. Faith is what is left when your beliefs have all been blown to hell.”
~ Ram Dass

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All who have survived trauma know well the feeling of the broken spirit. The loss of faith that comes with having your belief system ripped out from under you.

How can trauma survivors come to a place of restoring our faith? Our faith has been built over time as we live and construct in our minds the things we believe in. Trauma can shatter those beliefs in an instant.

In her amazing book, Trauma and Recovery, Judith Herman, M.D. addresses the issue of faith. She states “(Traumatic events…) violate the victim’s faith in a natural or divine order and cast the victim into a state of existential crisis. “

In other words, we begin to question everything we have come to know.

Herman goes on to state the depth of this loss of faith.

“In situations of terror, people spontaneously seek their first source of comfort and protection. Wounded soldiers and raped women cry for their mothers, or for God. When this cry is not answered, the sense of basic trust is shattered. Traumatized people feel utterly abandoned, utterly alone, cast out of the human and divine systems of care and protection that sustain life.”

Let’s re-read that last sentence: “…cast out of the human and divine systems of care and protection that sustain life.”

There is nothing more profoundly despairing than that feeling. To feel abandoned by the Divine is a trauma in itself and leads to the disconnection that is such a hallmark of PTSD. So how do we begin to rebuild our faith?

It is important to distinguish between faith and belief. Beliefs are products of our minds. They are decisions we have made, constructs we have formed to make sense of our world. We believe in God, in certain people, in certain relationships.

Faith is a product of the spirit. Faith is the abstract knowing that the Divine is constant. When there is a crack in that knowing, what can heal it? When there is a tear in the fabric of faith, what will mend it?

After 9/11 there was a wonderful quote by Mr. Rogers going around. His advice in times of extreme trauma was to “Look for the helpers.” This is a start in restoring our faith.

If you have survived a trauma, you were likely helped, if not immediately after, then soon after. Look at those helpers. For me it was kind police officers, a calm and soft-voiced trauma nurse, and my friends who came in the middle of the night without asking why I needed them, they just came. When I looked back on all that, it made a few stitches in my torn faith. I could trust the goodness of those people, and they had faith in me that I would survive this. It was a start.

Who were your helpers at the time of trauma? Who around you still holds you up?

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”   ~ Psalm 34:18

Another way to restore your faith is to simply ask. Ask God to restore your faith. We can do nothing apart from God. We can’t restore our own faith by ourselves. Sit in quietness and solitude and ask. Gather with others and ask. God will begin to show you the constancy of Love. God will lead you beside still waters and restore your soul. You will begin to see examples of Divine Love that will make you smile, knowing it’s another stitch in your torn faith.

For me, the final step in restoring my faith was through service, and I wish I had come to it sooner. When you want to curl up in a ball and feel abandoned, take action instead. Get out of yourself and find a way to help others as soon as you feel able. It is like a salve to your wound. Compassionate action opens the way for the light to return. Imagine a sky that is all gray clouds, except for one hole where sunlight is breaking through. That is what service will do for your faith.

An added by-product of service is seeing your value in the world again. Sometimes trauma can leave us feeling powerless. Service restores our faith, not only in God, but in ourselves.

I leave you with this inspiration from Walt Whitman:

“The question, O me! so sad, recurring –

What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here – that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on,

and you will contribute a verse.”

 

Have faith. You are Still Beloved.

 

Victoria McGee

11/29/2015

 

 

 

What’s in your Cloud?

“Be miserable, or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”                                                                                                                                           – Wayne Dyer

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What are you storing in your cloud? What are you uploading? What are you downloading? How do these choices affect your life every day? How does it affect the next moment?

Long before the cyber age we’re living in, we all had a Cloud. We still do! The database we carry around, filled with thoughts, feelings, memories, plans for the future, hopes, and dreams. We call it our Mind.

Unlike the Cloud, which is just for accessing stored files, our Mind can also discern, choose, evaluate, create and invent! Those are the amazing gifts of our Mind.

But like the Cloud, we have the ability to choose which files we upload, and which files we download. This is an incredible choice and gives us full power over what we think about, and how we feel. Of course with great power comes great responsibility. (Peter Parker) So when we come to fully realize that only we have full power to engage our Cloud and focus on certain files, we can either celebrate in that knowledge, or cringe from its horror!

Some of us who struggle with PTSD have files that would horrify other people. Trauma that is our own personal heart of darkness. So every day we have this choice. Which files do we download? Which files do we keep in the Cloud, and for how long?

PTSD can feel like a broken record. The same files keep downloading. Even when we try to think about something else, to create something new and good, the old file shows up again. Where’s the pop-up blocker for the trauma thoughts?

Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Initiate a habit of choosing thoughts and ideas that support feeling good and powerful and elevate you to a higher level of consciousness.”

Who wouldn’t do that if they could? Ah, but you can, grasshopper. The key word is habit!

Too often we feel helpless to these intrusive files. But the more often we practice not reacting to them, but calmly saying, “Not now,” and sending them back to the Cloud, the easier it gets, and the less they “pop up.” It takes practice. Mind practice.

Have you ever had the cascading pop-ups on your computer screen? That’s what those intrusive thoughts can feel like. And what do we do when that happens? We usually have to re-start. Same with our Mind. Re-start, and then install an anti-virus.

For me, the anti-virus is God. I could not control these thoughts, my Mind, the Cloud, without calling on God’s strength, mercy and grace. For if I cannot love these thoughts away, God can. Only the thoughts of God can “elevate you to a higher level of consciousness.”

The more of the strength and faith in the Divine I can upload into my Cloud, the more power I have over negative downloads.

Of course the negative files exist, and there are times and places they need to be downloaded and dealt with, but it needs to be of MY choosing, not random.

There are also times the negative files will keep popping up because we need to deal with something. Often, it’s when we need to do the next healing step, and that’s okay. Just listen to your instinct. You will know when the pop-ups are unnecessary, and when it’s time for an “operating system update.”

The choice is always ours. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, just try it! Own it. Choose it.

A Course in Miracles sums this up beautifully:

“And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world.”                                                                                      -A Course in Miracles, Lesson 190

 

Never underestimate the power of your thoughts.

What are you uploading?

Keep throwing light on the darkness.

You are Still Beloved.

Victoria McGee

 

 

HOW BIG IS YOUR BRAVE?

When I first heard this lyric in the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, I was struck by what a profound question it is. How big is your brave?

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This week, as our hearts are turned to Paris and the traumatic events there, the idea of courage and bravery come up for all of us. We all have questions: What would I do in that situation? Are we living in a new normal? How big is my brave?

Trauma survivors know the answer to that. Wherever we are in our healing, we know we have survived what would be unthinkable for most people. If you are new in your healing process, that is enough to know. If you are well into your healing, you know the courage needed to heal is sometimes more than that of surviving the trauma. But you also know the well of courage is bottomless. Even if we lose courage one day, the next day we awaken ready to fight the good fight again.

A Course in Miracles states “there is no order of difficulty in miracles.” I often apply that thinking to trauma and healing. There is no order of difficulty in surviving trauma. If 100 people went through the exact same trauma, they would react and deal with it in 100 different ways. We bring into our trauma a set of beliefs, feelings, thought patterns, culture, and maturity that are uniquely ours. We can never say another person’s similar trauma is more or less difficult than our own.

There are traumas we can look at and know they are more harrowing and difficult to heal, yes. I’m talking about similar trauma. We have an unnecessary tendency to make comparisons. We need to remove all judgment from trauma healing. In a situation needing love, judgment is a profound lack of love.

If we follow this line of thinking, then there is no order of difficulty in courage. What it took for me to survive and heal from rape, was courageous for me. What it takes for you to survive and heal is courageous for you. Don’t play small in acknowledging your courage.

And for those days when your brave feels small, ask the Divine for strength. Ask the Divine to hold you up. I used to imagine sitting in the lap of the Divine and being rocked. It comforted me and gave me strength to go on. Sometimes the well “seems” dry. That is when we need to turn to God to fill it again, and rest in that Holy comfort.

As the initial coverage of the Paris attacks subside, we will start to be hear the small stories. The everyday people who became heroes for others. But we will most likely not hear the stories of the survivors and the witnesses to this violence who may have their own PTSD in the months ahead. They will have to become heroes to themselves as they heal. Join with me in asking God to be with them, and with the families of those whose lives were lost. Their brave IS big enough. My brave IS big enough. And when it isn’t, dip from the well of God’s immense and indefatigable LOVE.

“Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in

Show me how big your brave is~”     – Sara Bareilles

 

Victoria McGee

11/15/15

 

 

WE ARE ALL ONE. Wait, what?

 

Beyond the idea that we are not our bodies, that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, is the radical idea that we are all one.

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For those of us who have suffered trauma, often at the hands of other beings, is there a way to wrap our minds around this spiritual tenet? How can I reach to that place beyond forgiveness to a state of seeing all beings as one? And most importantly, is it necessary for my healing?

 

I will go out on a limb up front here and say, yes, ultimately it is necessary for your healing, but it will probably be one of your final steps in courage and faith, as it takes a certain amount of diligence, mental and spiritual training and seeking, and the strange examples God will send you on your journey.

 

Why must we take this final step? Because to be truly healed, we must see others as God sees them. Not as beings in different degrees of worthiness, suffering, privilege, evil, or love. But in a state of acceptance for what is. Even “accepting” where someone else is on their path is a form of judgment.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this. In the face of horrific racism and the victimization of African-Americans, he saw that you cannot meet hate with hate.

He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”

 

How does it serve the evolvement of my soul to hate the person who assaulted me? How does it serve the evolvement of your soul to hate your attacker, victimizer, ex-husband, enemy soldier? How does it serve the evolvement of the spiritual beings of our planet to meet hate with hate? It doesn’t. And the stakes are that high. We are all contributing to the vibrational energy of the planet with every thought, every word, every deed.

My soul needs your soul to heal. Your soul needs my soul to heal. The very hard work we are doing is not just for ourselves. It is to shine the light, to heal our souls, to diminish trauma on the planet.

 

All spiritual writings seem to hint at this vastness of beingness, the eternal IS, the I AM that encompasses all we are aware of. These writings also speak of an exponentially larger field or dimension we are not aware of, and probably can’t even comprehend. When I think of the vastness of God, of Love, of the Divine, I come back to asking “Who am I to judge?”

 

So, you ask, do I really think I am one with my attacker? Yes. Absolutely. Because on some level of spiritual existence, there is no separation.

I’m not a guru. I’m not a monk, or a nun, or a minister. But I am a warrior for spiritual healing, and when I truly pray for deliverance, and for peace of mind, and when I join my mind with the Divine, I DO get there.

I get to the place Rumi spoke of in his wonderful poem:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.”

 

This is a tough one. It’s a difficult concept for most people, but especially for those of us who have been victimized or terrorized in some way. But through prayer, meditation, service, and grace, we will be able to see with new eyes, and love with new hearts.

there are no others

You are Still Beloved.

Victoria McGee

11/8/2015

YOU ARE NOT YOUR BODY

 

“Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”          ~ A Course in Miracles

 So what is real? Are we human beings having a spiritual experience? Or are we spiritual beings having a human experience? If we can accept and wrap our minds around the latter idea, our healing can transform us.

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When I first began to study A Course in Miracles, some of these thoughts angered me. I had been through real trauma, how can they say that nothing real can be threatened? I had been threatened. I had been hurt and traumatized. What are they talking about?

But as I did the workbook and studied and listened and opened my heart and mind, the ideas began to make more sense. Any spiritual path will set you on a roller coaster ride of questioning. This idea makes sense. This does not. What does that mean?!? I get this concept, but not this one! Whatever path we are on, we need to be gentle with ourselves, letting the knowledge seep in as we are ready to comprehend it. Relax in knowing that each small epiphany is preparing you for the next, and the next, and the next.

Accepting what A Course in Miracles refers to as real and unreal is the same as knowing that what is of spirit is eternal, and what is of the body is not. What is of the spirit is real and can never be threatened or destroyed. So in terms of existence, (or that which will always exist), only that essence is real.

When I went through my trauma, I was about halfway through reading Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach. Somehow, in the middle of being assaulted, lines from the book floated into my head and I was suddenly aware, very aware, hyper-aware, that “I” was NOT my body. Something bad was happening to my body, but there was a part of me that was not being touched and could not be harmed. Call it my soul, my Higher Self, my Divine Essence, whatever you like. But I instantly knew that part of me was of God, and was of Love, and was ETERNAL.

This was one of the gifts of this experience. There is no quicker way to “get” that lesson and realize what you are not, than by disconnecting from your body.

One of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s quotes sums up this idea perfectly. He says “Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.”

All my life, being raised in a traditional Christian manner, I had seen myself as a body with a soul. Flipping that idea on its head has saved my sanity. For if I’m a soul with a body, then I cannot be contained, or truly harmed. My spirit is of God. I Am.

How freeing is that thought! How healing and comforting!

But to believe it and truly know it, we must tell ourselves every day. Sometimes every moment of every day. I am as God created me.

“I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.” ~ A Course in Miracles

 

I am still as God created me. I am a soul. I am eternal. I am more than my body. I am more than my trauma.

I am Still Beloved.

Victoria McGee

10/25/2015

 

Another F Word – Flashbacks

“The subconscious mind cannot delineate between what is actually happening and what are your thoughts.”  ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

This can be a radical concept to try to embrace. But if we can wrap our minds around it, it gives us release and understanding of our traumatic flashbacks.

I was listening to a recording of Dr. Wayne Dyer this week, when he spoke those words. It resonated with me, especially in regard to flashbacks. When we experience a flashback, our subconscious mind may think the trauma is actually happening, or about to happen, again. We may feel powerless to a flashback. But realizing that it is from our own thoughts ultimately gives us power over it.

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Often when we are initially traumatized, the mind separates from the body. Psychologists refer to this as dissociation. It can occur again during flashbacks. When your body is not a safe place to be, part of you leaves. This is an innate survival mechanism we have, but it is also why people subjected to repeated, ongoing trauma, need specific healing modalities to re-join these fractured parts of themselves.

After the trauma, we sometimes have flashbacks when triggered by certain sights, smells, sounds or situations. Initially, triggers are common and frequent, growing less powerful as time passes, as we heal and move on from the trauma.

In an article entitled “Trauma and Dissociation: Nuerological and Spiritual Perspectives” in the Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy, Jane A. Simington writes,

“In Shamanic belief, when the mind separates from the body, as happens during dissociation, the human soul can fracture. When this happens, a part or parts of the soul can remain at the scene of the trauma, as thought frozen there in that space and time. From within this perspective, a trigger is viewed as a signal to the person to pay attention to an unhealed soul wound. A flashback is acknowledged as a step on the healing journey, for it takes the traumatized person back to the traumatic scene where the fractured-off soul parts remain.”

This is a unique way to reframe triggers and flashbacks. If you are still triggered by a certain smell, it is simply a signal that you have more work to do. It doesn’t mean you are lacking in any way, or that you’ve been slacking on your healing process, it’s just a noticing.

And to think of a flashback as a step on the healing journey is a radical idea to most of us as well. But when we return to that scene, we have the opportunity to heal it, to observe yourself in that situation and love yourself. To take the Divine with you, and let the Divine hold you.

A couple of months after I was raped, I moved into a house with 3 roommates and got a dog. That was a good and natural response. I was getting better at sleeping, just knowing there were people around. My roommates didn’t know what had happened to me as I was not sharing it at that time. One of my male roommates thought it would be funny to sneak up behind me in the hall one night and grab my waist and scare me. The next thing I knew, I had left my body (again) and was staring down at myself, screaming loudly, in a fetal position on the floor. It took a few minutes for me to re-enter the present moment and re-enter my body. My roommate was, needless to say, shocked, but realized what had happened. He was extremely apologetic and asked me gently, “That wasn’t just from this, was it?” I could only shake my head, “No.”

How was this a step on my healing journey? Because during my initial trauma, I never got to scream. Being able to scream out all that fear was immensely cathartic.

The next day I felt lighter. I had got back a little piece of my power.

In this same way, therapists working with war veterans are now using simulators to go back to war situations and come back to their present reality, to reduce symptoms of PTSD and work toward feeling safe again. Therapists often also use hypnotherapy as a form of safe flashback to do the same kind of work.

So as scary as flashbacks can be, if we can reframe them as a healing step, we need not fear them. Not that we need to invite them, but when they do come, try to see what message they are bringing. Do I need more therapy? Do I need to journal more? Be with nature? Find safe places? What is Spirit trying to tell me? If you ask the question, you will know the answer.

While we don’t want to live in the past, sometimes we have to address it in order to heal it.

“I am as God created me. In this one thought is all the past undone; the present saved to quietly extend into a timeless future.”  ~A Course in Miracles

You are Still Beloved –

Victoria McGee

A Trauma Survivor’s Manifesto

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while now. I keep being drawn to this idea of taking our trauma, our wounds, and transmuting it into something better. I look at parents who have lost children who take that grief and start foundations, channeling that immense loss into something new and good.

There is no better balm for trauma than creating your own compassionate acts.

So I give this to you today – I hope you find it valuable. Please feel free to share it with others who need these words via Facebook or Twitter!   Click on the picture to enlarge it!

Trauma Survivor's Manifesto

You are Still Beloved ~

Victoria McGee

Oct. 6, 2015

UNDERSTANDING THE INCONCEIVABLE – LIVING WITH A TRAUMA SURVIVOR

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”  ― Fred Rogers

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Wonderful Mr. Rogers. I never appreciated him and the depth of his wisdom until I became an adult. And he’s so right. We must find the people we trust with that important talk.

For trauma survivors, we are often directed immediately following the trauma to counselors and therapists who are trained to help us deal with the trauma and find a way to move on with our lives.

But what about our family and friends? The people we love and live with. They are not always included in trauma treatment, but their intimate knowledge of us makes them an important tool in our healing. How can they support us in a way that is helpful, balanced and healthy?

If you live with a trauma survivor, you know there are ups and downs. Good days and bad days. Joyful days and self-destructive days. Trauma survivors, especially initially, are likely to experience flashbacks, have irrational reactions to certain places, feelings, smells or sounds, and have nightmares or trouble sleeping. Their moods may be unpredictable. They may push you away one moment, and demand your presence the next. They may become hyper-aware and anxious, or choose to numb that feeling with alcohol or drugs. I know because I have done all of these things. And when the people you live with ask you what’s up, sometimes we find it difficult to explain.

You see, we are on a path with no map. No one has ever walked this exact path before. People have walked similar paths, but our path is so personal it lives in the deepest part of ourselves. To share or explain it is often impossible as there are no words. We can feel the process, but cannot express it.

The path is similar to a board game. We are on the path, rolling the dice, moving forward, everything is going along as it “should” and then the boogey-man jumps out from a bush and we go back 3 moves. We can’t control what makes the boogey-man appear. And neither can those who love us. As much as they may want to.

But know this. As time passes and healing happens, the boogey-man doesn’t send us back as far. The day will come when he doesn’t affect our progress at all.

But until then, what can our loved ones do?

  • Be there for us. If we push you away, don’t take it personally. If we need you too much, set some boundaries. Work with us to find balance.
  • Listen if we want to talk about it. (If you think it’s uncomfortable to listen to what happened to us, think what it was like to go through it.)
  • If we don’t want to talk about it, don’t try to force us. We will talk about it and need to talk about it, and it may not be with you. And again, don’t take it personally.
  • Honor our progress. If you see us overcome a fear or get past something, please recognize it. We need to hear that.
  • Don’t ignore self-destructive choices. Gently call attention to it and encourage us to find healthier paths.
  • Pray for our healing. When you’re feeling helpless about how to help, just pray. Prayer is action.
  • Pray for our relationship to grow with this and become stronger and healthier.

All people want to know they are not alone in their struggle. All people want to be beloved and cherished. Let us all join hands and walk each other home in love and compassion.

“Our brothers’ needs become our own, because they are taking the journey with us as we go to God. Without us they would lose their way. Without them we could never find our own.”                         – A Course in Miracles

You Are Still Beloved

Victoria McGee

What If I’m Not Strong Enough?

“God is the strength in which I trust.”

                                                A Course in Miracles

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.”

                                                Psalm 46:1

Living with PTSD, surviving trauma, and healing those wounds requires great strength. At some point, we all ask ourselves this question: What if I’m not strong enough?

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Initially, we are probably not strong enough. Anyone who has been through trauma knows what shock feels like. It is a strange limbo-land of disassociation. Thank God for it, however. Without it we would jump a very fast train to mental illness.

But when the shock wears off, we are left to our own devices. Those of us who report rape, or are involved in tragedies, or acts of war are led to seek help by caregivers, counselors, social workers, or perhaps chaplains. These people start us on a path of healing we would have trouble navigating on our own.

For those who don’t experience this initial helping hand, who keep their trauma locked up or don’t have access to tell their story, the path is longer and more difficult, but still is possible. Because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phillipians 4:13)

Again, in this blog, I hope you take any reference to God or Christ or Buddha and make it personal for yourself and your beliefs. At the core is the belief that a spiritual faith of some kind will lead you to an enduring healing from trauma. The implicit gift in this, is that an established faith gives you an all-access pass to healing, 24-7.

In my last blog I talked about acceptance. I shared that I was afraid to accept that this trauma had happened. I had been raped and now I had to learn how to heal. I was also afraid to do what it would take to heal. What if I wasn’t strong enough?

At first, I wasn’t strong enough. In fact, I felt weaker and more vulnerable than ever before in my life. Thankfully, that feeling grew tiresome. As I’ve shared before, I realized I was giving the rapist more power, more parts of myself by not sleeping, by shrinking, by being afraid.

That pissed me off, thank God! And I went through a period of rage and anger that at least ignited my will to be happy and successful in spite of what I had been through.

But we can’t live in a state of anger. And peace of mind achieved through anger is short-lived at best. Anger can make you feel strong, but it isn’t real strength.

Real strength came from God. Real strength came from turning my fear and anger over to the Holy Spirit to be alchemized into a strength through peace of mind that I hadn’t previously experienced. Ever.

The best news was that I didn’t have to be strong enough to heal from this. God was strong enough. When I felt it was too hard, I turned to God. How many times, you may ask? I’ll let you know when I’m done. And that’s not an exhausting statement, but a comforting one. To know I don’t have to rely on my own strength is the most relaxing thought in the universe, if we believe it. We get so caught up in the doingness of life that we think our own strength is all we have and all we need. No wonder we are often weary.

When you turn to God and ask for help, your doubts, fears and anger will be alchemized into the strength you need. I’m fascinated with the idea of alchemy. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was a forerunner of chemistry, as scientists tried to meld metals into valuable creations. It is also now defined as “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.”

This is what God does, if we will turn to God for strength. Alchemize our fear into strength. Transform our anger into strength. Create strength within us that surprises and delights us.

Only then can we take that strength, real strength, out into the world to serve others. Real strength comes from love and creates more love.

Our greatest strength lies in the gentleness and tenderness of our heart.”

                                                                                                ~Rumi

You are Still Beloved.

Victoria McGee

9/13/2015