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


“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


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.

“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, the discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” ~ Anne Lamott

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?


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.”


You are Still Beloved.

Victoria McGee