Whenever you experience something traumatic in life, you have to go through phases, often referred to as the stages of grief. People tend to think that it just applies to when someone you love dies, but the truth is those stages can apply to ANY loss.
Suffice to say, at the moment I get the joy of experiencing those things and coping can be a challenge.
Thankfully I am beyond blessed by a GIGANTIC circle of friends and loved ones who are at the ready to help me with that, and even moreso, I was raised by a mother who was a mental health professional, so for me acknowledging and accepting help for emotional problems comes easily (sort of – no one wants to admit their mom is right…ever…about ANYTHING…Hi Mom! Stop reading my blog…we’ve discussed this…it only ends in trauma for you... J)
The thing is I find that the most important parts of getting past a trauma aren’t as detailed as the “official” five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).
For me it’s three.
Recovery – this can mean so many things, but mostly it means listening to your mind/body/heart to figure out what exactly it is that you need to recover from, and how you plan to do it. It is remembering that you CAN recover. You’ve recovered from past traumas, and this one will be no different. Today, I’m focusing on getting my physical house in order to help purge and reset my mental health. BIG shout out to my awesome newest neighbor who, as luck would have it, needs a home for an extra bedframe at the exact moment I need to create a guest room!
Your recovery can be about finding a new hobby, or an old one you let go of because, life. I’m kind of doing that too I guess with my return to writing. The point is recovery is about allowing yourself to move forward.
Reassessment – ok, we can’t deny something happened. But although it’s a corny platitude, EVERYTHING happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is you’re an idiot and needed to learn a lesson, but still a reason. We have to give ourselves permission to think about what happened (when we’re ready) and to look at it as objectively as we can – sometimes with professional help…my damn therapist is planning to buy a new yacht, funded by my sessions alone I’m sure...then again, she’s earned it. In that thinking, we should search for the nuggets of learning and opportunities to grow. What was good, what wasn’t? What can we take with us to the next phase of life?
Relief – this one is my favorite. Once you’ve done the work, there is relief. Actually, you will find relief comes in stages and waves. It’s not a one and done thing. You’ll feel relief at multiple points. Relief that a bad situation is over. Relief at discovering new things about yourself, or rediscovering old things. Relief that you did what you needed to do.
But there is one thing that you MUST do throughout the entire process – forgive.
First and foremost, you have to forgive YOURSELF.
Life is a challenge. We stumble. We fall. We make mistakes – some of them monumental. Beating yourself up about them doesn’t help you. Forgiving yourself does.
I used to have an acupuncturist who used to refer to these as FGEs – Fucking Growth Experiences. These life challenges are an opportunity to grow, but sometimes they suck to go through. But you CAN get through them, and you MUST forgive yourself for your mistakes.
Forgiving others for the wrongs they’ve done you is a good thing too, but that one can be harder, and in my opinion is less necessary than forgiving YOU. Remember – there is no manual to your life. You’re doing the best you can, so cut yourself some slack. Take the time to Relax, Relate, Release!