Healing complex trauma – is a complex process. There are multiple facets to trauma healing: therapy, developing support systems, education and references, developing awareness and connection, and learning/practicing self-care techniques, just to name a few.
For the fourth day of the writing challenge I am going to write about what I struggle with. If I am honest, there is a list of things that I struggle with as I work through my trauma recovery. One thing that stands out to me though, is my struggle with self-care.
I know how important it is, and over the years in therapy, I am developing the skill set and know how. I just can’t seem to get a handle on this illness and how to manage it yet. Taking care of myself has never a priority; not as a child, not as a young adult. Self-care feels foreign, even selfish. It just doesn’t come naturally to me.
I’ve discussed with my therapist my frustration that the only thing I have managed to stick to consistently is my therapy appointments – I know there is more for me in life to help me reconnect and recharge. When I am creative, I feel accomplished, happy, and clam.
For example – when I am writing, I feel like I have a purpose. It keeps me focused and present. I also have to deal with everything about my childhood at the forefront of my mind as I process and write the chaos in my head. It makes it hard to be consistent with my writing as I learn to manage all these emotions. Sometimes I get so exhausted, I naturally slip into a disconnect and self-care is out the window.
Knowing that this is one of my biggest struggles, yet understanding how important it is to focus on developing this area of my recovery skill set has made it necessary for me to be intentional about how to redirect my behavior. Here are a few things that I am working on in the short-term as a means of reaching my long-term goals of self-care.
- Making lists and setting alarms.
- Allowing myself to feel my emotions without judgement. My need to understand and manage every single emotion I feel, in the moment I am feeling it takes me away from simply allowing myself to feel. It keeps me stuck in a repetitive cycle of bargaining, thinking with enough academic understanding I can manage how this illness manifests. It doesn’t work that way. I have a lot of emotions bottled up – I need to accept that, and let myself feel so that I can move through this towards healing.
- I have a space in my home for me. My office/craft room is a place where I can come to write, to read, to meditate, to listen to music, to craft, to call friends, whatever I want – this is my space. It is very important for everyone to have a space for themselves.
- I have a hobby other than writing that taps into a different side of my creativity. I make homemade note cards using a variety of different techniques. This is a craft that I just decided to do one day for no real reason and I ended up really enjoying it. It also allows me to stay in touch with friends via mail by sending notes.
- I bought a book about a year ago: Breaking the Chains of Trauma, a trauma workbook that my therapist was using in a trauma group that I sadly couldn’t attend due to my work schedule. I was going to work through the book with her each week in my individual sessions but I did one week and then put it aside. Avoidance is one of my longest friends. Recently, with being laid off and having a lot more time to focus on myself I have pulled the book back out and plan to work my way through it over the next few weeks.
Being intentional with self-care is hard work. I don’t get it right all the time; but I keep trying.
Tune in tomorrow – I’ll be writing about Words of Wisdom that Speak to me.
Catch up on other posts from this challenge here
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Do you have a hobby? I make homemade cards as part of my self-care routine.30 days of FREE streaming music!