“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. ” -Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Grief comes in many forms, doesn’t it? It can be for loved ones lost, who have crossed over to our true home; the one in which we’ll be living for all eternity. It can also be for loved ones that reside on earth, whom we have no relation with. It can be for relationships that ended abruptly, or for relations that turned to addiction, or for family members that chose not to be a part of our life anymore. It can be for reasons known, or unknown. It can be for the loss of our health, or the loss of our limb(s), or the loss of our memory… or the pain of living with a loved one who is losing their memory. Grief holds many forms. And, unless it’s controlled, it can turn us into a person that God never intended us to be. We can squelch the pain for only so long, until it erupts like a volcano, sliding its hot lava down our bare, lonely body. How do we deal with the losses in our life? How do we deal with the innocence that was taken from us? From the children who have left us, from the divorce that shocked us, from the loved ones who are no longer here for us to talk to, touch, and go through life with? How do we deal with abuse, molestation, being held hostage, or the trauma of being thrown into the trappings of human trafficking? How do we deal with abandonment?
I’ve talked a mountain about my health issues. Why? Because I’m hoping that others with Lupus (or any other chronic illness) understand that they are not alone. Or for the other victims dealing with Lupus who are struggling daily to find victory over this disease. However, I’ve never really talked about my personal life, and personal struggles. I’ve never discussed how I’ve overcome my battle with PTSD (or had believed I had overcome). Or how I can squelch my past so deep inside me that the people around me would never know the sufferings I’ve endured. I’m a very private person when it comes to my past, and I never go into deep detail about what I’ve been through unless it’s in my personal journal. I can’t… because I’ve been abandoned by the people I love most, for talking about any of it. So, I squelch it all deep inside me. Some people know bits of my life, but no one knows everything except for God.
One of the ways in which I handle my disorder is avoidance/numbing. Mental Health Treatment defines this as:
“Patients go out of their way to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma and emotionally shut down in an effort to stop the pain that comes with re-living the experience. Some will block out certain portions of the event; avoid any conversation, person or activity that reminds them of the trauma; feel detached from those with whom they were formerly close; and experience a lack of interest in anything. Many even believe that they don’t have much of a future in terms of family, careers or long-term health, and therefore don’t make plans or work toward goals.
I’m like you, because I know that we all have our own stories of suffering. Our stories may be different, but our pain is not. How we handle that pain is what matters. Some of us suffer with a shield of people supporting us and protecting us. And some of us suffer alone. Sometimes our life story is so traumatic that people are unable to hear our stories or comprehend them; even therapist. So, who do we turn to then? There are times we feel we have it all under control only until something sparks a memory that triggers a PTSD attack.
Let me tell you that PTSD does not only affect soldiers, it also affects those of us who have experienced grave traumatic life experiences. I went through years of therapy not understanding why my brain handled the trauma I’ve experienced the way it does. I didn’t even know what PTSD was until I was diagnosed with it about 1 year into my (many years) of therapy I spent trying to overcome this disorder. I tried to learn healthy ways to deal with my life circumstances. And I thought I had done that. Until recently.
I experienced a serious trigger the other night, which has left me questioning whether I’ve even healed from any of this? Or if I avoided it for so long, that it’s now erupting? It scares me to death. It happened when I was simply watching a show on Dateline (or 20/20, I can’t remember) with my husband. The person we were watching had underwent a small fraction of what I once had gone through, and for some reason it felt like I had been struck down. My heart started papillating and a video tape of my life started replaying in my head. Things I haven’t thought about in so long that I had become numb to it. Tears started pooling in my eyes, and I told hubs I was getting tired and needed to go lie down.
This is a clear example of how I shut down. I found myself in my bed, fetal position, bawling as quietly as I could. I had the TV on to muffle my tears. I didn’t want hubs to hear. This is what I do. I suffer alone. I’ve been abandoned way too many times in my life for showing my feelings, or my tears. I’ve been abandoned by every person I’ve ever loved (in one way or another) except for my sister and grandmother who have now passed. The last thing I want to do is show my pain in front of my husband, because I have a deep fear of him leaving me. I have a deep fear of anyone leaving me. And this is something that I’ve never told anyone in my life except my psychologist. I’m stating it here today, because I’m trying to gain power over my fears.
“Save me, O God,
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
Where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
The floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
My throat is parched.
My eyes fall,
Looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” -David (Psalm 69:1-4)
I reach out to those of you who are not only chronically ill, but also emotionally spent. For those of you who are not a stranger to pain and trauma, my heart goes out to you, because I understand the depths of your pain. And I ask you to not quit loving yourself to the point of forgetting how to nurture yourself, and your soul. I realize after a few days of these images running through my head, like a herd of wild horses… that it’s most likely time for me to go to my therapist again, in order to make sure I’m handling all of this in a healthy manner. This is not something I can escape from on my own.
But most importantly I need to make a U-turn back into the arms of Jesus. I need to feel his embrace of pure peace and remember the reason why I’m here on this earth. He never said it would be easy for his followers. But we do have to remember one thing:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. John 10:27-30
Sometimes I think that if only one traumatic experience happened to me, that I would have had the strength to handle it. But I can honestly say that I’ve experienced so many traumatic experiences from my 20’s until now; that my body nor my mind can keep up with them. I also believe that I (might have) gotten Lupus from all the stressors and hardships in my life. I believe that if I were actually handling them in the healthy manner in which I thought I had been… that possibly Lupus would have never touched my body.
The traumas and abandonment I’ve endured have caused a lot of stress on my body through the years. Possibly that is why I feel so much older than my biological age? The wisdom I hold comes from years of dealing with my life’s problems. Rarely can I not feel and/or understand what another person is going through. Which is why I don’t usually succumb to passing judgement on another person or a situation. We are all sinners and unworthy of our Maker’s love; yet, he understands our choices, our pains, and the reasons why we handle things the way we do. Our love comes from him, and his eternal hands are always outstretched to us. When I hear another person talking behind someone’s back it makes me cringe; for I feel that every person on this earth was created by our Holy Father. We are all special and we all deserve to be comforted by our brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t see that happening in today’s society very often anymore. As an empath, I can feel others’ pains, as easily I can feel my own. This does not reward my body either. It makes me even more sick, and at times I need to resort to the comforts of my bed, just to relax my body enough to feel balanced again.
That being said, I’d like to list some ways of dealing with past trauma that have been both healing and soothing to my soul. I’m sharing them below, and ask that you comment below if you have found any healthy ways that have been healing to you.
- Go to a/your Psychologist/Therapist/Counselor/Pastor/Priest/Rabi:
People are human; therefore, there is not one of us who can really give us the right answers except God; including a therapist. However, they can listen when we are alone and have no one to talk to. It is of the utmost importance that we have a way to get our hurt/pain out of our body. This is an area in which I’ve ignored for many years; and in which I’m considering returning. I thought that I had healed from my past, but now that areas are returning, it’s a sign from the Holy Spirit to once again have an outlet to “get them out” so that they don’t paralyze me and cause me more stress and anxiety. I can tell you this: if you decide to go to a therapist, do so with caution. If you feel judgement, or there is just something about being around them that doesn’t feel right… leave. Find a therapist that is kind and understanding. Find one that counsels you with the same ethics and morals you have. And never be with one that makes you feel unworthy, or less than who you are. Example: I prefer a Christian counselor. You may have a different preference… follow your heart.
- You don’t understand where I’m coming from, just as I don’t understand where you’re coming from.
Our perceptions are based on our life experiences. And when our life experiences are filled with trauma, we need to retrain our brain to focus on the things Jesus taught us to focus on. It is the only way to overcome the trenches we are faced with while on earth:
7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, put these things into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.… Philippians 4: 7-9
This was required homework for my clients. Journaling is one of the healthiest ways to get things out of our system. It also teaches us so many things about ourselves, when we go back and reread our writings. There was never a day I didn’t pick up my pen and journal to write my feelings down. But I stopped in fear that someday when I passed from this world, someone would find it, and read it. So, I literally burned every page I had ever written. But just as I have coached others to do, I myself need to give myself permission and the freedom to put my thoughts back on paper. Because holding them deep inside me is no way to heal. All it does is overtax my body.
- Leaving social media.
If you’re finding that it’s causing you pain (which it can really do if you’re an empath like me), then I say to turn away from it. Turn away from it now. FB has always been a passion of mine. Mostly because I enjoyed seeing pictures of my kids and grandkids. But I’ve recently taken my FB icon off my phone (I didn’t deactivate my account because I still wanted my messenger active). This way I don’t even see the icon. I don’t even see that I have notifications. I just deleted it from my sight, so I’m not tempted to go there. My blog automatically posts to my social media accounts… but I do not see comments (if I even get them). The reason I’ve kept my FB account active is so that I can go to my settings and download my account in order to check sale sights and events that are coming to my area. But I’ve promised myself to only check them once a month. People can still send me comments on my blog; but thus far I haven’t received any. Which is also fine. I write my blog for others who may be suffering the way I do; or have. The only people who have liked what I have written, are complete strangers to me, but I can only hope that I have touched their lives in some way, for the positive.
I highly suggest that you make time for this in your life. Regardless if you are a morning person or a night person, it is best to meditate and pray in the mornings. Even Jesus would pray in the mornings.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Praying in the morning allows us to discern from God, early. It allows us to begin our day on the path God wants us to follow. It helps us to make the correct choices and decisions. And it settles our spirit before tackling life’s problems. I’m assuming you know how to pray. Meditation is also very beneficial, and if you don’t know how to meditate I recommend that you upload the app called “Headspace” which will relax and guide you into meditations and mindfulness techniques. It truly does teach you how to calm your spirit and balance your life. It is a free app, so check it out.
- Use Essential Oils:
I have used essential oils for about 10 years and have 5 that I use on a regular basis. My favorites include:
Peppermint: (which I usually have to use daily). This oil helps me tremendously with Lupus, because it helps me when I suffer from my migraines; which is often. It also helps me with my respiratory issues… and with nausea. It has many health benefits, so you can’t go wrong with this oil.
Lavender: This also has many health benefits, but I use it for sleeping, and for emotional stress and anxiety. My sissy-n-law just gave me a bottle of her homemade lavender spray, and I’ve been spraying it on my pillow each night before bed. I love it and will definitely be making it with her in the future.
Clove: I need this for Lupus, because I suffer from bleeding gums and mouth ulcers. It also helps with bruises, which I get daily due to my steroids. It’s recommended for boosting my immune system which I need terribly.
Frankincense: I love this oil, but my husband hates the spell of it. I use it because it is a great anti-inflammatory.
Lemon: I put lemon in my diffuser because I have a terrible time with disorientation in the morning until I have time to wake up. Lemon oil allows me to become more alert (quicker) and helps me with my concentration. It’s also is a natural pain reliever, and I’m in severe pain most of my life.
These are my famous-5’s… but you can find essential oils that cover any areas in which you’re in need… and I highly recommend them. I enjoy Doterra Essential Oils, they are my absolute fave. I have a name of someone who can help analyze your needs and get you the appropriate oils if you’re in need. Please leave a comment below if you’d like to get in touch with her. However, please don’t comment if you’re trying to sell something, because your comments will be deleted immediately. This is not a sales blog.
- Epsom salt baths: I can’t even tell you all the healing benefits from Epsom salt baths. Oh my gosh, I never am without a huge bag of my Epsom salts! I suffer from arthritis, severe joint issues, severe inflammation, etc. I need to take an Epsom salt bath every night just to handle the pain I’m in. (I enjoy taking them before bed because it helps me sleep).
These are ways in which I heal my body from stress, and like I said… I’m seriously thinking about going back to my therapist if I continue experiencing triggers. But I’m hoping if I start journaling again… along with all my other habits, I’ll be able to tackle this on my own. Like I said, I’m a very private person, and even therapy is hard for me. But sometimes we have to take the hardest path, don’t we?
I’m praying for anyone who is suffering from emotional stress or trauma. It is my prayer that we can focus on the things that Jesus clearly tells us to concentrate on. I pray that he’ll lead us to find the appropriate care we need, and that we are never ashamed for seeking health. I pray that we’re able to discern… and that we find the strength to carry on and continue being strong during our life’s trials.
I also pray that you never forget how special you are, and just how much your Maker loves you.
God bless each and every one of you,