Why Trauma Survivors Can’t Just ‘Let It Go’

It seems the deeper I journey into the healing and recovery process, the more I find that much of our cultural and conventional wisdom does not help trauma survivors. All the trite platitudes and sayings that might help someone having a garden-variety bad day can actually become giant triggers for someone living with trauma.

Let’s assume everyone wants to live a healthy, pain-free, abundant and productive life. There are hundreds of motivational books and centered on “fake it ’til you make it” principles, which encourage people to “think positive,” “let it go,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” etc. They may have helped some people. Judging by book sales, they have probably helped many. Yet, for many trauma survivors searching for relief, these books and motivational coaches don’t help. In fact, many, like myself, feel more depressed, broken and impossibly disconnected after reading them. Here’s why.

Trauma survivors are often highly motivated people. Many are conditioned to be hyper-aware and hyper-vigilant out of survival. They are often overly critical of themselves because they were held to impossible standards by their abusers, and their attempts to please them often went sour. Some become overachievers, yet never feel like what they achieve is enough. Because nothing is ever good enough to appease an abuser, some survivors give up trying, becoming the self-fulfilling prophecy of whatever their abusers told them they were. Many survivors internalize that they are “lazy” when it’s not a lack of motivation that keeps them from their goals, it’s trauma. Trauma causes the nervous system to fight, flee or freeze, and for many survivors, their bodies are either stuck in one of these, or alternate between the three. Holding this pattern together is a web of toxic shame that is extremely difficult to break. Think of a race car stuck in first gear, with a foot on the gas and a foot on the break. That’s how many survivors get around.

To a survivor, telling them to “think positive” sounds cruel. I mean, that’s exactly the problem for anyone recovering from any type of abuse. Their thoughts were hijacked by someone else, and now they are fighting for their sanity to get their own thoughts back. And it’s not just their brain that was taken over. Emotional trauma gets hardwired into the physical body. Not only does it cause mental anguish, it creates a lot of physical pain, which can sometimes morph into serious long-term disease. Doctors and scientists are currently making great strides in connecting the dots between trauma and disease, but the general public is years behind in understanding and accepting this reality.

“Positive thinking” shields the reality that sometimes people feel shitty. In order to heal, survivors need to let down their shield and feel their feelings.

Here’s the other problem when a trauma survivor feels pressure to “think positive.” Often, for a survivor, this can sound like it’s not OK to feel whatever they are feeling, so they stuff it away, often relegating it to the subconscious. Trauma survivors are experts at burying their feelings. But burying feelings doesn’t mean the pain goes away, it means the survivor is less able to access what they need in order to heal. Many survivors experience dissociation. Dissociation is a common coping mechanism that needs to be broken by actually facing the terrible thing that caused so much terror that mentally “going away” was the only option.

Similarly, minimization plays a huge role in coping, either by the survivor or the people around them. Usually, it’s both. “It’s not that bad, ” or “It’s not as bad as X has it…” is not only a huge roadblock to recovery, it’s a road block to being aware of the trauma in the first place.  So, when a survivor decides not to “sweat the small stuff,” the small stuff turns into a giant, insurmountable mountain of shutdown feelings and emotions. Getting into a pattern of not speaking up, whether to keep the peace or to avoid uncomfortable emotions means more skeletons for the pile in the subconscious mind.

Survivors need to pay attention to the small stuff.

Here’s another one. “Just let it go.” If only it were so simple. If survivors could, they would gladly be doing it. While this is actually the end goal for resolving trauma, it often gets waved in front of the trauma survivor’s face like some shiny, magical, yet unattainable talisman. Too many people are trying to let go of trauma they haven’t yet fully grasped. To let go of something means you need to be aware that you’re holding it in the first place. Trauma that is stored in the locked closets and cupboards of the subconscious mind continue to control from within, often without the survivor fully understanding what’s happening. The process of letting go can’t happen until those things are dragged into the light and fully processed. Once again, that means feeling uncomfortable feelings. It means grieving. It means giving yourself the kind care and attention that no one else did. Sometimes, it means wallowing for a little while. The harsh inner-critic of a survivor usually doesn’t allow this for very long. It means sending the critic away. It means bringing all of our subconscious thoughts into our conscious awareness to objectively take stock of what we’re working with.

So, next time you feel compelled to encourage someone to “let it go,” don’t. Instead, see if you can encourage them to lean in to whatever it is and feel it. Letting go will happen in its own time. That is, if you allow them to give their brain and body what it needs to heal.

Making Room for Hope When Living With PTSD

Fright. The panic that overwhelms you when you feel the soft brush of someone passing you.

Terror. The nagging little inkling in the back of your head that the people near you desire to destroy you.

Impulse. The scrambling to feel the rush of adrenaline you felt when someone violated you.

Anger. The outrage you feel as you blame, degrade and punish yourself for what someone did to you.

Trauma haunts you. It follows you like a ghost taunting you. It forces you to do the unthinkable. It corners you, immobilizing you with fear until your reality is so distorted that you sink to the floor and wail for the agony to end. As you struggle to escape the emotions trapping you in a room filled with dark thoughts, you watch slowly as your candle of hope burns away. Trauma whispers in your ear that there is no escaping.

That’s the lie. The dread in your heart is an illusion. You can gain freedom. It’s a miserable journey crammed with discomfort, loneliness and coming to terms with unsettling thoughts. The days drag by as you slowly crawl across the floor.

Even a little hope is still hope. Don’t let it burn out before you escape.

You are not what happened to you. You’re worth more. You deserve happiness. What happened to you was a crime, but you aren’t the criminal. Stop punishing yourself.

You don’t have to give others the ability to take advantage of you anymore. You don’t have to keep penalizing yourself because of what someone else did to you. You don’t have to be docile and make everyone happy. You have the right to be angry. Walk right up to your anger and embrace it. Be outraged at the person who violated you. Be infuriated at the people who stood silently by watching you retreat into your room of trauma. Feel the fury running through your veins.

Enjoy that rush of adrenaline. Let the power flush out the dark thoughts fastened to every wall of your mind. Dare to believe that you are phenomenal. You’re the survivor. Slowly peel those twisted self-perceptions off the walls. The bare walls might be startling, drab and leave you with an empty feeling in your gut. Breathe. That sensation will only last so long.

When you stop giving air to those notions in your head and let them die away you see the world in amazement. You see the world in rose-colored glasses. You start to see the beauty of the small things for the first time. You crave happiness, you stand fierce and allow no one to control you. You transform into someone who refuses to allow anyone to put a blemish on your joy.

It’s possible. You can rebuild your home. You can take a stroll down to the pier and hear the ocean breeze. You can put your toes in the water and feel a warm hand in yours. The world is yours to take. Peace can be yours if you just venture to thrive.

Will you dare to dream with me?

What Happened To You Was Not Your Fault, But How You Go Forward Is Your Responsibility

What happened to you was not your fault.

It was not something you asked for, it was not something you deserved.

What happened to you was not fair.

You were merely collateral damage on someone else’s warpath, an innocent bystander who got wrecked out of proximity.

We are all hurt by life, some of us from egregious wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. No matter the source, we are all handed a play of cards, and sometimes, they are not a winning hand.

Yet what we cannot forget is that even when we are not at fault, healing in the aftermath will always fall on us — and instead of being burdened by this, we can actually learn to see it as a rare gift.

Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life.

Healing is our responsibility because unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around us, and we are not going to allow what someone else did to us to become what we do to those we love.

Healing is our responsibility because we have this one life, this single shot to do something important.

Healing is our responsibility because if we want our lives to be different, sitting and waiting for someone else to make them so will not actually change them. It will only make us dependent and bitter.

Healing is our responsibility because we have the power to heal ourselves, even if we have previously been led to believe we don’t.

Healing is our responsibility because we are uncomfortable, and discomfort almost always signals a place in life in which we are slated to rise up and transform.

Healing is our responsibility because every great person you deeply admire began with every odd against them, and learned their inner power was no match for the worst of what life could offer.

Healing is our responsibility because “healing” is actually not returning to how and who we were before, it is becoming someone we have never been — someone stronger, someone wiser, someone kinder.

When we heal, we step into the people we have always wanted to be. We are not only able to metabolize the pain, we are able to affect real change in our lives, in our families, and in our communities. We are able to pursue our dreams more freely. We are able to handle whatever life throws at us, because we are self-efficient and assured. We are more willing to dare, risk, and dream of broader horizons, ones we never thought we’d reach.

The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done.

We fail to realize that in that hurt are the most important lessons of our lives, the fertile breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.

We are not meant to get through life unscathed.

We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.

Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond — and who we become — that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero.

Is It Possible to Let Go of the Past When You Have PTSD?

Today I was assured that it is OK to let go of the past. What? Wait, let go of the past? But the past makes me who I am now, and that might not be a great reference for my past — I’m battered and bruised emotionally, and I’d wager fairly heavily medicated. But I think the point was mostly that I need to recognize the painful things that have happened to me — the trauma and hurt, the powerlessness I have felt — does not have to imprison and hurt me on a daily basis now.

This afternoon I’ve grappled with the thought of “letting go” and what that means for me. If I am being truthful with myself, I could admit I am a willing captive to my past — I believe I deserve to be treated poorly, to serve other people’s needs regardless of how that impacts me. Demanding more for myself and my future makes me feel guilty and selfish, and that is more uncomfortable than the ache in my chest from the nightmares and memories.

As I’ve spent some time bartering with myself to find a balance between self-preservation and selfishness, I have come to the following conclusions:

To let go does not mean I stop caring; it means I understand the difference between those who deserve my care and those who demand it.

To let go does not mean I need to trust everyone; it means it is OK to let safe people in and be vulnerable with them.

To let go does not mean I am admitting I am powerless; it means I recognize that the situation was outside of my control.

To let go does not mean I am to blame; it means I accept I am unable to control others’ actions or change the past.

To let go does not mean I do not regret the past; it means I am willing to heal and live in the present.

All of the above tells me it is OK to let go of the pain and to let go of the past does not mean it is no longer a part of me. It means I deserve to move on with my life; it means I get to anticipate a happier future where I am not victimized, but instead am strong enough to advocate for my own needs to be heard and met. It means that instead of being voiceless and frozen when faced with those who are only interested in making themselves happy, I can learn I am worthy of the same consideration they are giving to themselves.

I only wish it was as easy to truly believe these things in my heart, but making the logical connection is a start. For all my life, I have felt inadequate and hopeless. I have lived believing it was my destiny to appease others at my own detriment, best to do what people want voluntarily before they demand or take it from me.

Letting go does not mean I am accepting the horrible actions of others; it only means I am admitting that I am worthy of love and acceptance.

My Body Is Doing Its Best and It Deserves My Forgiveness

I am working toward loving my physical body in a way I have never been able to before.

I want to feel gratitude, appreciation, and admiration for my body, and I want to feel sexy, desirable, and beautiful. I want to feel so many positive emotions when I look at and think of my physical form, but unfortunately, I usually feel like my body and I are constantly at war with each other.

I struggle with Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and Chronic Pain, and it makes loving my body even more difficult than the “society and the media have taught me to hate my body weight, body shape, imperfect skin, height, nose etc. ” issues that so many of us deal with already. Loving a body that is actively causing you physical daily pain and stress because it is genetically different from a “typical” person’s body is a different type of challenge than the hell of trying to overcome accepting you don’t look like society’s aggressively attractive “ideal” woman.

Trying to love a body that you feel somehow hates you is… exhausting. I am exhausted from being in nonstop pain, from trying to operate with constant fatigue, from gagging on 50 pills a day, and from the heartache that comes with knowing that this is not temporary. This is forever. This is my state of being.

This is my life.

I am acutely aware that all of this is extremely valid. I am also acutely aware that my body itself has no malicious agenda, no evil plan. That, however, doesn’t make me any less angry.

Have you ever been hurt by or angry with someone who not only had no intention of harming you, they were just kind of moving through life in the most benign, typical way, and had no idea they even harmed you at all?

It’s kind of like that.

Learning to love my body is going to have to begin with learning to forgive it for struggling exactly the way that it has. My body is not sentient, my mind is, and it didn’t get to choose to experience bullying or to struggle with chronic pain etc.

I know I sound bananas trying to somehow both personify and dehumanize my body at the same time but just go with me here.

My body was in the womb, creating itself, doing what little unborn bodies do, but it had somewhat the wrong blueprint, and it made itself the best it possibly could. How could I possibly be angry at it for that? I still am. But it did its best.

I’m not mad at it for doing its best, I guess I’m just angry that I have to deal with the faulty outcome. Any contractor can tell you that if you build your house with flawed blueprints on an unstable foundation, your house is eventually going to crumble.

My house is crumbling around me. It’s hard not to be frustrated with that.

I am doing my best with the body that did its best to build itself into a stable and safe shelter for me, I’m just frustrated, exhausted and I pray one day for a cure of it all.

Meanwhile, the most important thing that I can do to move my mindset toward loving my body, the vessel that carries me, is to forgive it for being imperfect, forgive it for not having the right information, and appreciate it for blessing me with its best.

This Is What No One Tells You About Trauma

There is a strange understanding of trauma. Or rather, a strange stigma.

Trauma is not always from whiplash in a car accident.

Trauma is not always sexual assault.

Trauma is not always domestic abuse.

Trauma is not always emotional manipulation.

Trauma is not always a one time thing.

Trauma is not always recurrent.

Trauma is all of these things—whether they be all of them or another one not mentioned at all or even one that no one else has ever experienced.

Trauma is pain. And it’s a pain that is somehow very often seen and interpreted as drama—as airing of dirty laundry once spoken about, as attention seeking, as unfair to the accused, as shameful of the victim, as hypersensitive to situations deemed unworthy of said pain.

This exact interpretation is how trauma does not heal or even come close to becoming helpful to victims.

And yes, victims. Say it out loud: victims. Victims are not just characters on Law & Order SVU or people subjected to unlucky circumstances like the wrong-place-wrong-time verdict. They are all of these things and so much more.

As a creature with feelings, it is critical to observe, absorb, and be open to the true reality that ties together these many very separate entities.

It is possible for a person to be devastated by something another person seems unworthy of such pain.

It is possible for a person to be traumatized by a relationship that another claims was different from their eyes.

Trauma among two parties can also very much be traumatic for the person thought to be the perpetrator AND for the person feeling as though they are abused. Every single trauma is absolutely separate from another, whether it be caused by the very same individuals in the very same circumstances.

Invalidation of trauma is another trauma attached to the original trauma. And for me, it will always be the culprit that suffocates the ability to come forward about or feel worthy of releasing.

Invalidation is its own trauma caused by a domino effect from the original. This invalidation is contagious because it infects all other aspects of the victim’s life.

Trauma is not drama. Trauma is pain. And pain is exactly what we, as humans, strive to feel least and give just the same.

So, take the time. Take the time to think about your pain. Think about your worst pain—not just to heal or confront it but to recognize it in others. To recognize that there’s no person—literally not one person—that you will ever meet, walk next to, see on the subway, pay at the cash register, see at the dentist, smile at, frown at, cry near, embarrass yourself in front of, console with sympathy, stay close to forever, or lose abruptly that has never felt the most painful thing that you have. No matter what the details of either trauma happened to be.

Mark Twain will have always said it best: “Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.”

My doll matters as much as your crown—for my doll is what your crown is to you and your crown is what my doll is to me.

21 Powerful One Sentence Reminders To Read When You Are Doubting Your Growth And Healing

  1. You are ocean deep and those that are as shallow as puddles will always dismiss you, misunderstand you, abandon you; all for fear of disappearing in your depths.
  2. Pain is the body’s way of letting us know something is wrong, pain is also how the universe lets us know that we are in need of spiritual growth.
  3. Your trauma does not own you and it never will; remember that when it is trying to convince you that you are forever broken.
  4. Even mightiest hurricanes do not last forever, and eventually will die to nothing but a tiny dust storm, your misery will one day end too.
  5. No one is allowed to judge the way you choose to let go of your pain and your heartache.
  6. You owe no one an explanation for who you become after you are traumatized
  7. Grieve for as long as you need to and allow the pain some kind of release.
  8. The best personal growth you will ever have happens in times of extreme personal strife and tragedy.
  9. The damage does not and will not define you, but it will make you softer, kinder and better if you let it.
  10. Anything that does not aid you in your growth deserves to be let go.
  11. You heart deserves better than to be constantly reminded of the things that broke it over and over again.
  12. The stars didn’t collapse their lungs to breathe life into yours for you to think you are a mistake.
  13. Your heart was made for braver and better things than the people and the things that broke you.
  14. When life shows you a cliff over a sea of pain, you have two choices: fly or fall.
  15. You have saved yourself from drowning every time before this. You will rescue yourself again.
  16. Perspectives change and life betters once you start treating all of life like it is a series of lessons you must learn.
  17. Your scars are a warning to all future monsters, of the hell you have survived before them, every demon you vanquished, and every battle you won.
  18. The greatest lessons you will ever learn; how to love someone without trying to own or belong to them, and how to let go gracefully of the things and the people that hurt you.
  19. Let go. But only at your own pace and at your own time. Some things need to be mourned before they are let go gracefully.
  20. Choose the uncomfortable path, even if it means paying for it with your stability because that is how you grow and how you chase your dreams.
  21. Take this as the sign you are looking for: Yes, you should let go if it’s making you feel that unhappy and yes, you deserve better.

We Cannot Heal in a Toxic Environment

Survivors are always told that ”they are responsible for their healing.” I, as a survivor, say we as a collective world, society and culture are truly responsible for creating an environment that isn’t traumatized and causes intentional harm. One that isn’t oppressive in the first place.

A plant cannot thrive without the necessary conditions. An experiment was even carried out that showed how a plant responded to being verbally bullied by withering away and dying instead of thriving and growing. Humans are like plants, needing the right conditions to thrive. I do not believe trauma should be divided into small or big T’s, or abuse into ”worse” and ”lesser.” This is not helpful in any way as it only brings shame , and shame becomes toxic and blocks the healing process.

Survivors should not have to justify their pain or feel they are not worthy of help or support because pain and trauma is being measured. We shouldn’t allow abuse by acting only when it’s reached extreme measures, we should be saying ”no” period. Abuse is abuse. We should be supporting all who hurt and bleed not only physically, but also emotionally. It can take years for the psyche to heal, and even then, healing doesn’t mean things will be the same, it means adapting to a new life, managing the pain, triggers and emotions as well as the lessening of the struggle and pain. A fulfilling and a happy life is possible, but we need to adapt and learn new ways to live and function in life and new skills to help us do that.

COVID-19 is a collective threat and trauma. It has taken the lives of many and we have all struggled with all we have lost. Yet, sexual abuse and violence, domestic abuse and violence as well as racial trauma have been pandemics throughout endless history. And, in the present, continue to threaten the lives and well-being of so many who have lost their lives to offenders or are driven to end their pain by ending their own lives.

I see adverts encouraging survivors to come forward, and those who struggle with depression not to struggle in silence and to talk. How many times do survivors need to talk? We have been talking, but oppression has silenced us. Society has victim blamed us. Justice never seems to be served, changes take endless years to occur and when they do, it’s thanks to survivors.

The world thinks they can know pain they have never experienced, as well as judge those who have lived it.

As humans, sometimes we think we know better and know it all until it happens to us.

Survivors don’t need to speak up, the world needs to open their ears to listen, to see change and put it in action. It’s not enough saying, “I’m not a rapist, I’m not an abuser, I’m not racist, misogynistic …” because most of us have been the problem even when we don’t realize it. We need to really challenge ourselves and look within and we need to get angry collectively, not only when things personally affect us or loved ones.

If you really are in support of mental illness, stop shaming, judging, voting for leaders with narcissistic tendencies. Start believing survivors, start listening to them. Fight for equality, fight for justice, fight for the end of cruelty to all humans and animals. Start respecting the environment and world you don’t own and are not entitled to. Stop destroying life and nature and then wondering why things happen. Stop doing this and thinking there will be no consequences.

If we live in a world that doesn’t meet human needs, that isn’t safe or feels safe, do we really think mental illness is just a disease? That suicide is just the result of depression? Depression is a symptom that manifests in a world that can render us to feel helpless, hopeless and alone. The world needs to change if mental illness is to get any better. All these things are injuries to the psyche, and naturally, the psyche will bleed. Sadly, when it’s the psyche, many are left to bleed or told to stop bleeding. You see, struggling is a normal human experience and it’s hard to heal wounds when the environment that caused them doesn’t change.

Resources:

Suicide Prevention Resources:

If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope.

You can call Lifeline at 13 11 14

11 Signs You’re Healing Past Trauma You Didn’t Even Know You Had

Trauma is sneaky in that it is subtle. It is so subtle, in fact, we can allow it to become normalized to the point that we forget it exists, until, of course, something triggers it and we are back at square one. Trauma is likewise not always what we think it might be — we’re all traumatized from a variety of experiences, ranging in intensity. These are a few of the signs that you’re beginning to process trauma that you didn’t even know you had.

1. You’re confused by your feelings.

It’s not just that you’re hyper-sensitive, it’s that you’re emotional in ways that just don’t quite make sense.

You might find yourself over or under-reacting to situations or world events. You might find yourself crying once an hour, or struggling to understand what you feel at all.

All of this is a symptom of a fundamental disconnect between you and your nervous system. In order to survive, you had to tune out your authentic feelings. Of course, this is unsustainable, so once you open yourself up to sensing them again, you’re met with an onslaught of confusion and out-of-place emotionality.

You need time to process.

Then, slowly, you need to reconnect with your ability to intuit your needs and wants.

2. You’re recalling memories you totally forgot about.

Memory suppression is another classic sign of trauma.

If you are suddenly remembering all of these experiences or instances you completely forgot about, chances are you were more traumatized by them than you think. You tuned them out in order to carry on, and now, you’re actually ready to unpack their significance in your life.

3. You’ve reached a peak of success or stability.

Though it seems counterintuitive, this is precisely the point at which most people begin emotionally unraveling.

This is simply because you are no longer just trying to survive. For a long time, your emotional health had to take a back seat while you struggled to find some stability. Now that you have it, those feelings are ready to be addressed so you can actually find fulfillment and growth.

4. You’re questioning your direction in life.

There’s a good chance that a lot of the decisions you made in your life were decided upon from a place of trauma.

You may very well look back and feel embarrassed or confused about why you dated someone, or posted something, or acted in one particular way or another.

Though you don’t need to guilt and shame yourself for your mistakes, this is actually a sign of growth. Recognizing that you behave differently today is actually a positive thing.

5. You’re experiencing an array of physical symptoms.

The tension in your shoulders and gut that you’ve had for as long as you can remember? It’s probably not unrelated to anxiety and trauma.

The same is true for a lot of “unexplainable” physical discomforts. Now, instead of just trying to treat the symptoms, you’re willing to address their causes.

6. You feel totally numbed out, or apathetic about other people’s suffering.

Ironically, many people who have suffered greatly can begin to feel apathetic about other people’s suffering simply because it’s too much of an emotional overload.

When this occurs, it’s not necessarily that you’re a bad person or that you’ve lost your empathy. It might just mean that you need to hold space for your own feelings, and process your own emotions, before you can offer the same to someone else.

7. You feel guilt or shame for no clear reason.

If the foundation of your self-worth is built on being overcorrected, judged, shamed and humiliated, you might still be carrying that around with you today.

If you feel guilty or embarrassed over innocuous things, or for no reason at all, it’s probably a past trauma that you’re still reacting to without realizing. You’re so scared of being made to feel that way again, you impose it on yourself so that nobody can hurt you first.

8. You feel as though your every move is being “watched,” judged, or evaluated by someone in a negative way.

This is another way that hypervigilance takes control of our lives.

Unable to recognize that we are no longer in danger, our bodies continue to respond as though a threat is imminent. This not only depletes our health and energy, it is the root of all traumatic experiences: an inability to discern that the event is over.

Practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques along with your other emotional processing work can be helpful for managing this.

9. You’re mentally foggy, and it’s hard to concentrate.

Yet again, your mind is overstimulated from trying to respond to too many things at once.

In this case, you have to remember that feelings aren’t always facts — they are valid experiences but don’t always say something accurate about who we are or what our future might be.

Similarly, the thoughts that we might get lost in are not always predictive or realistic. Sometimes, we are simply responding to out-of-control emotions and end up in a spiral that it’s hard to get out of.

10. You’re withdrawing from others.

While this isn’t sustainable long-term, sometimes, being alone is the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves.

When we remove ourselves from other people’s expectations and needs, we’re able to start responding to our own. We’re able to be more expressive about our emotions, and we’re also able to figure out who we are independent of who we imagine other people need us to be.

Being alone forever isn’t healthy, and connection is essential for us to thrive. But being alone for a while, and especially while you are healing, can be extremely powerful.

11. You’re questioning what you once thought to be true.

Your old belief system simply cannot carry you into this next phase of your life.

You’re ready to start pulling apart a lot of what you built as a response to your trauma, and as a way to survive.

You’re ready to build a new worldview that is more accurate, more realistic, and in which you are a capable and competent person capable of living a good life — no matter what is or isn’t in your past.