Success Story Season 1 Episode 25 – You Got You

I just had a horrible dream. It was awful. I was so shaken up, I could barely distinguish reality from the dream after jolting up. 

My first instinct was to quickly watch something to distract myself and feel better. It’s always about feeling better, isn’t it? 

I was listening to Julien Blanc recently and he mentioned something very interesting from Peter Levine’s book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. He recounted how when animals are being hunted by others in the wild, they pretend to play dead when cornered. In other words, they detach. Detachment makes the experience of being ripped apart bearable, because that way what’s happening isn’t happening to them. There is no them. It’s just happening. But if the hunting animal falls for their hoax and leaves, they slowly get back up and start shaking. It’s because even after the detachment, their body remembers the trauma. They sit there, experiencing it all for a few minutes, and then walk off to their regular activities. 

Yes, animals are way better than dealing with trauma compared to us. Because unlike us, their trauma doesn’t haunt them or show up in their lives in unexpected, hindering ways. My first instinct to absolutely ignore and forget what I had just experienced through that dream and my immediate need to feel better, that will cost me in ways I can’t even imagine. Oh wait, actually I can. We all can. It shows up in every flinch, in every anxiety attack, and in every minute you put off what you want to do for approval that doesn’t even matter. 

Our bodies remember. And they always will. Until you sit down and give all that fear and pain another meaning. 

Imagine seeing your kid get hit by a soccer ball. If you’re a good parent, you’re obviously going to go up to him and make sure he’s okay. You won’t just ignore the fact that your kid got hit because it’s the easier thing to do. That hit, if left unattended, could turn into a bigger injury later. 

That’s exactly what we do to ourselves, don’t we? Choose the bigger injuries over having to sit with those uncomfortable, sometimes even soul-shattering feelings. Because yes this world can be an absolute nightmare at times. And it is hard, believe me I know. Sometimes, it takes decades to just start accepting something happened to you. But it’s important to go down that road if you want to experience the best parts of life. Because you deserve to. 

Aside from dealing with everything you’ve already been through, next time something traumatizes you (and it doesn’t have to be some big, horrible thing, it can be as small as an insect jumping out at you), sit down, feel what you’re feeling, seek help if you need to, and find closure. And closure can be in many forms; it can be a decision, a mantra, or even just a feeling. But it’s important to remind your body that it’s been taken care of. 

Why do you think therapy helps so many people? It’s because they’re forced to relive those moments and actually feel what their body felt when they left it behind so they could cope momentarily. And don’t get me wrong, that detachment at that moment, it’s necessary, it’s a survival instinct, but what’s not okay is never going back when you’re in a safer environment. Something horrible happened to you, and you deserve attention for it. If not professional, then at least your own. 

So, instead of popping on an episode of the Mentalist (yes crime drama helps, don’t ask me why it’s weird), I am going to sit here and process all the feelings that the nightmare has brought up in me. I find it easier to journal because writing has always been my way of expressing feelings. If writing isn’t your thing, you can speak into a voice note, you can turn to art, take a walk, or even video journal. Anything that helps you feel. Because yes, it’ll definitely be less fun than watching a quirky team of detectives solve a mystery, but if I don’t, I will leave a void which I will later attempt to fill with even more crime drama, unhealthy food, and other short-term pleasures that deprive me from what I actually want from life. 

I would insert a nice, light-hearted gif now to make you feel better, but you know what, let’s not. You don’t have to feel better, you’ve spent your whole life chasing that, instead, give yourself the freedom to feel whatever your body needs you to feel. Because guess what, like every main character, there is an arc waiting for you, and you won’t get to the hero status by feeling peachy all the time. 

This world needs you to do more than just survive. All your experiences, the good and the bad and the ugly, they are going to change lives. You are meant for greatness, nothing short of it. 

I know everything we just talked about is a lot, both emotionally and physically (because your body remembers), so sorry if this is coming at a bad time. You do what you have to do; get through exam season, meet that deadline, or even finish attending a wedding before you throw yourself in the depths of past feelings, but schedule, and I mean literally block into your calendar or at least set a reminder very specifically stating when you’re going to make time to feel everything that you’ve been putting off. And honestly, sometimes all it takes is ten minutes. If you can’t even give yourself ten minutes in the day, you’re doing something wrong buddy. 

I’m sorry you went through what you went through. It must have been really hard. And I can say a million other things to you right now, but it will never have the affect your own words will. You’re the real deal. You are the one your body and mind run to when they’re scared and confused. You are the parent, the guardian, the safe-keeper, the soulmate, and everything in between. 

Trauma teaches us that healing is not about forgetting; it’s about embracing our scars and using them as reminders of our strength and resilience.” – Dr. Christine A. Courtois 

And as Peter Levine says, trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence. 

For most of us, we won’t heal overnight, at least not from everything, but all your body really needs is the assurance that you’re on the journey. Things that happened to you were out of your control, but there is no way in hell or on earth that you’re going to let external forces write your life’s narrative for you. 

Yes, life is happening to you, but you are also happening to life. And you are just as formidable. Let’s not forget that. At least not until next week when I see you again. 

In the meantime, give yourself a hug for me. And feel. Feel it all

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