The five stages of grief.
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
My shallow understanding of this was that I transverse the stages and I feel better.
Rather, for every memory that comes back, for every emotion that resurfaces, for every nightmare that hangs on all day, for every flashback, body memory, and reflexive jump … I feel like I go through all 5 stages respectively.
Over and over and over.
And I realize –
I haven’t accepted it yet.
I haven’t accepted the knowledge that there were changes to my brain as a direct response to the trauma I was experiencing; physiological changes in growth to important areas of my brain that handle things like processing emotions, memory, and my responses to stress, all of which was and is completely out of my control.
I haven’t accepted that the behaviors I struggle to correct are hardwired to those changes in my brain due to the abusive conditioning I went through my whole childhood, and that rewiring myself at 39, while obtainable – is going to take time and hard work.
I haven’t accepted that I spent over 20 years dissociated from the true realities of my childhood.
I haven’t accepted how I pushed away a family that loved me to protect myself from anyone else who could hurt me and it robbed me of decades of memories and experiences with people who would have supported and loved me.
I haven’t accepted I will always have to work a little bit harder to keep big emotions in check and that I will always need to pay a little bit more attention to my responses.
I haven’t accepted that my inability to establish and maintain proper boundaries with people is not because I am unable or incapable but rather a manifestation of everything I wasn’t taught growing up as an abused child and never learned as a disconnected abuse survivor when I was a young adult.
I haven’t accepted that I no longer get to forget. I have to carry this with me now, for as long as I live – the memories, the pain, the understanding of how it is actually affecting my life as much I don’t want it to.
And the biggest of all –
I haven’t accepted that I feel ashamed at all of these things because I don’t want to be this person.
As I replay recent events in my life in my head, I can see the behavioral patterns emerge; it knocks the wind out of me. I realize with a new and painful awareness just how much my trauma has and is, affecting me.
I haven’t accepted any of this;
despite talking about it all the time;
despite knowing logically that all of it makes sense.
It has suddenly become so clear to me that I haven’t accepted any of this.
It’s shocking just how vulnerable, weak even, I feel as I type all of this out.
And so it turns out, this is my biggest denial.
Holy smokes, this recovering from trauma stuff is some heavy lifting.
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