How Trauma Taught Me It Can Be Right to Be Wrong

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For most of my childhood and teen years, no matter how loudly I spoke to my dad or how many words I poured out, I felt unheard.

My opinions didn’t matter. Sharing my ideas with my father felt like trying to set up patio furniture in a hurricane. I could barely get a thought out of my mouth when Dad hurled it into oblivion.

My father was R.I.G.H.T. All of the time. No questions asked.

This past year I went for trauma therapy. As my team of therapists evaluated my history, I was certain they’d focus on my two sexual assaults, the deaths I’d witnessed, and other significant traumatic incidents in my life.

Instead, they focused on my relationship with my father. The truth was, that even though my dad had provided well for me, protected me, cared for me, and loved me to the best of his ability, his inabilities to communicate safety, love, compassion, and acceptance had a profound impact on my childhood.

I grew up feeling abandoned, isolated, alone. I longed for my father’s approval and became a slave to performance, always with one eye on what other people thought of me. Unfortunately, I became a wife and mom who was driven to be R.I.G.H.T. All of the time. No questions asked. Until I admitted that I, too, needed help.

Trauma treatment, I discovered, isn’t only about sexual abuse or the tragedies of war. It’s about  the deep hurts that stop us in our tracks and keep us stuck in the past.

Getting unstuck takes courage and work. It’s worth every bit of investment we make. And healing IS possible, no matter what form our trauma takes.

I now understand it’s a terrible thing to be right–only (in the words of my pastor). It is far better to admit that we are broken and on a journey to wholeness. My journey began when I admitted my need for treatment and trauma that was rooted in childhood–even though I grew up in a home with two well-intentioned parents who loved me very well in many ways.

Admitting we have been hurt and that we have hurt others is not an admission of failure. It is an admission of our humanity and shared need for grace. And it is often the first step in our healing.

 

Photo Credit: RedCrossDallas.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Trauma Therapy: Five Days to a New Me–For Real

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Most people tend of think of people with post-traumatic stress disorder as veterans or Katrina victims. The general population doesn’t know that one in four women will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in her lifetime.

When you’re sitting in a restaurant, ball game, church service, or business meeting, if every eighth person stood up, that’s the number of people who are suffering from PTSD.

One out of eight. Of your friends. Your family members.

I was one of them. And I was in hiding until I went to Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, West Virginia.

What was life like for me?

Certain experiences, memories, sights, smells, and thoughts triggered intense feelings of abandonment and anxiety.

I lived with guilt because I couldn’t control my fears. I tried counseling, but it didn’t work. I consulted with spiritual advisers and spent time in prayer and meditation, but my symptoms persisted. So I threw myself into my work and pressed into caring for my loved ones, but my symptoms just wouldn’t go away. In fact, they continued to intensify.

But I was stuck in denial. Certainly I didn’t need trauma treatment. I could figure things out. Besides, I couldn’t afford it.

Yeah, right.

After nearly crashing and burning, I was forced to admit that I couldn’t afford NOT to go. My symptoms weren’t going to get better unless I addressed the roots of my problem. And so this past winter, I packed my bags and headed to Intensive Trauma Therapy–uncertain and afraid.

I was sure the therapists couldn’t help me in just five days. I mean, come on now. Five days? It’s taken me longer than five days to beat a case of dandruff.

But I was wrong. So very wrong. And never so glad to be wrong.

The therapy modality used at ITT is simple and effective. And I find it to be consistent with my Christian worldview. Certain parts of me and my brain are “stuck” and can’t get past the lies I believe. This is a biological fact caused by traumatic experiences in my life. The therapeutic approaches used at ITT “rewire” those traumatic experiences  and re-file them in my brain. I also learned how my true, healthy self can speak to the broken places in me and enable the healing process.

My healing began on day one of treatment. I returned to my hotel room that evening freed from anxiety that had gripped me for years.

Does that mean I’m living an anxiety-free life? No. But it means I’m living with a manageable range of anxiety. I now understand where that anxiety originates, how to cope with it, and how it interacts in my life.

So what actually happened in those five days of therapy? I learned writing and other graphic and narrative skills that move my trauma experiences from one side of my brain to the other. I learned how to talk to the “stuck” parts of me and gain clarity and new insight about the fears and anxieties that trapped me so I can move forward. I learned skills that allowed me to come home on day six with new behaviors that have become a part of daily living and healing that has changed my life.

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of trauma, find a professional who understands.

There is HOPE.

For more information on trauma and PTSD, visit PTSDPerspectives.org. And looking for my upcoming book, written with co-author Wanda Sanchez, releasing this June: Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life.

Trauma Queens Tour Launched

A new conference will kick off its national presence in Rockford, Michigan, on October 20, from 8:30-3:00 at Rockpoint Church (formerly St. Stephen’s Church), at 6070 Kutshill Rd.

WHY A CONFERENCE?

The Trauma Queens Trading Hurt for Hope Conference provides an intimate, supportive environment for approximately one hundred women and church and community leaders to address some of the most painful issues facing women in the church: sexual and physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, self-abuse, obsessive behaviors, addictions, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

This conference provides spiritual encouragement and hope in Jesus Christ and creates an environment of safety, where women’s stories of hurt, hope, and healing can be shared. We also provide practical resources that help participants move to the next step in their healing journey:

o True stories of hope, healing, and the love of Christ

o A safe, supportive environment, where women are free to share their stories with a friend of prayer partner, if they desire

o Biblical support and encouragement

o Counseling resources

o Small group sessions on topics like finding hope, getting past the pain, understanding PTSD, and other practical and heart-hitting issues

o Free resources: When the Woman You Love Was Abused,by speaker Dawn Scott Jones, as well as The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk, by speaker Shelly Beach. An additional gift, the ebook, Truth about Trauma: What It Is, Why You Should Care and What You Can Do

MEET THE TRAUMA QUEENS

DAWN SCOTT JONES: Author of When the Woman You Love Was Abused(Kregel Publications 2012). Dawn is an ordained pastor, counselor, and national speaker who has shared the platform with some of the nation’s most noted communicators.

Dawn touches the lives of people through her powerful personal testimony, wit, humor, and deep insight into the Word of God.

Dawn is a survivor of abuse who knows the journey to hope and healing. www.DawnJones.org

WANDA SANCHEZ: Co-author of The Hope Bucket: A Story of Shattered Dreams, an Unlikely Friendship, and a Journey to Hope. Wanda is the executive producer of one of the nation’s top talk shows for the Salem network. She is also president of WLS Communications, a publicity firm that promotes authors.

Wanda is a trauma and sexual abuse survivor who has experienced a profound journey of hope and forgiveness. www.TraumaQueens.org

SHELLY BEACH:Author of eight books, including The Silent Seduction of Self Talk and co-author of The Hope Bucket, with Wanda Sanchez. Shelly is a national speaker at women’s conferences and writers’ conferences, and she also speaks with Wanda on post-traumatic stress disorder to medical and professional communities.

Shelly is also a sexual abuse survivor who has walked the road to forgiveness, healing, and hope. www.ShellyBeachOnline.com