I love writing prompts because they really help me focus in on things and this one definitely intrigued me.
I don’t think there are any questions that I hate to be asked because if I am honest, I live my life as an open book and if I feel a question is in appropriate, I simply won’t answer …
But there are a few questions that come to mind which will make me shift uncomfortably in my seat and perhaps stumble over my words if the situation is just right.
Let’s dig in to those questions and unpack my discomfort and the reasons why.
#1 How are you feeling?
It is hard to answer a question about how I am feeling when I have spent most of my life disconnected from myself and my emotions.
I remember the first time my therapist genuinely asked me in one of my early therapy sessions; it was a confusing questions and I wasn’t sure what the right answer was.
At that point in my life I had no idea that there were no “right or wrong” answers when it comes to how I am feeling, My emotions just are.
The struggle with my emotions comes from childhood. As a child, my emotions were regularly dismissed, minimized, mocked, or outright denied. No one created space when my emotions got big, or helped me learn to identify and cope with them when they felt overwhelming.
I learned quickly and from quite a young age that how I was feeling was of not important. It was instead the emotions of the others around me that I needed to be attuned to for safety.
Healing is both teaching and challenging me to identify my emotions daily. It challenges me to express how I am feeling, to create space for my emotions, and to allow them to pass through me without judgement.
Healing is teaching me how to answer authentically when I am asked “How are you feeling?”.
But it can still catch me off guard.
#2 What do you need?
Growing up in an environment of neglect and abandonment left little room for having any of my needs met as a child. In fact, I learned that having and expressing my needs was actually dangerous. Having needs would draw unwanted attention and normally brought with it shaming and belittling comments about being too much, or being ungrateful for what I did have.
Being so disregarded at such a young age taught me that I was on my own. I learned to suppress any feelings that suggested someone should support me; I learned to lean only on myself and I figured out how to adjust myself to the needs of others in order to feel loved and valued by my caregivers.
When I think of how confusing, terrifying, and lonely that must have felt for me as a child, it brings with it so much grief.
Now, as an adult, it is hard to untangle the “I don’t need anything or anyone” narrative when I find myself in a situation needing support. My first response it to withdraw. Having needs feels dangerous in my body even when I know logically that isn’t so.
Healing is teaching me how to say out loud what I need without fear or shame. It is a slow process, but I am learning.
#3 How can I help you?
I grew up getting very little support at home, at school, or from the community. I learned when I was very little that no one was going to help me, or save me, or protect me. The few times I did reach out for help the school and church officials sided with the people who protected my abusers – and then I would get in trouble.
I stopped asking for help. Why put myself in any kind of danger when I can avoid it completely by doing it on my own?
I didn’t realized just how hyper independent I have been my whole life until my healing journey began and awareness began to open my eyes to how I have survived my whole life. Asking for help literally makes me feel afraid of getting in trouble. I have no idea from who or how – but I feel the fear of consequences all the same.
Healing is helping me learn to feel safe asking for emotional support when I need it and for physical help when the situation calls for it. Healing is also helping me learn to surround myself with people who will support and respect me through this learning process.
I am not an island and there are people in my life that want to help me.
It is okay to ask for help.
#4 What is your favorite meal/food?
This one might feel like it doesn’t quite fit in this theme of questions but once I explain, maybe it will. After all, trauma brain is trauma brain, right?
I grew up quite poor and my father lacked a lot of basic skills regarding keeping a home and feeding a child. I remember only three dishes that my father regularly cooked at home: chocolate chip pancakes, pizza bread in the toaster oven, and burritos he made in the microwave. I don’t remember sitting down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner regularly with my father. We had a dining room table – but I don’t have many memories eating it at.
Most of the meals I remember eating as a child, were eaten over at my abusive grandfather’s house down the road. He and my grandmother had a few acres with a garden and an orchard. I remember eating fresh fruit from the trees and dishes that my grandmother would make.
However, for me, meal time was not a safe time. The majority of my abuse happened on walks in the woods after dinner while my father and grandmother were back at the house.
Growing up I didn’t have favorite foods, I didn’t have much a relationship with food at all really, because it wasn’t always readily available to me so I didn’t really think about it much.
When I moved into my own home, I remember the excitement of being able to purchase the foods that I wanted, and I definitely have some foods that I prefer over others – but if you were to ask me for my favorite meal – I’d likely answer with what I was in the mood for at that moment.
As I unpack my eccentric, and often times unhealthy relationship with food in the wake of my childhood (I am quite the emotional eater now), I hope I eventually find a favorite as I continue to try new things and adjust my relationship with food.
So there you have it, the four questions that I struggle to answer – but that I am learning to be more comfortable with. What are questions that you struggle to answer? Leave them in the comments, I am certain we are not alone!
On goes the journey
Looking for Ways to Connect With Other Survivors and/or Receive Support as You Heal?
Survivor’s Circle Peer Support Groups might be just what you need.
These small groups meet on alternating days of the week via Zoom. In these groups, survivors connect, share, and support each other through the ebbs and flows of healing. Attend a session and experience the magical healing that happens when survivors connect and support each other through shit only we can understand.
You can also book individual 1:1 peer support sessions with Shanon for private support in a closed space. You deserve support as you heal, and I am here to help. You don’t have to heal alone.
On the Journey Peer Support Program
As a part of this monthly support program you will gain access to all Survivor’s Circle Peer Support group support sessions every month as well as individual 1:1 peer support sessions with Shanon each month.
Hi, I am Shanon
I am a trauma informed, trained, and Certified Peer Support Specialist in the state of Wisconsin. I am also a survivor with years committed to my own trauma healing after being diagnosed with (C) PTSD due to childhood abuse. Additionally, I have a professional and personal history of community facilitation and peer work.
I specialize in helping survivors like you make connections between real time experiences and past trauma wounds, identify and communicate boundaries, create self-care plans that work, navigate big emotions and trauma responses, reparent your inner child, and embody your own self-worth through the healing process with confidence and personal empowerment.
These support groups and 1:1 peer support sessions should not replace professional therapy; they will however provide additional support and information.