When something bad happens to you or if you witness something bad happening to another person it changes the molecular structure of your brain. The brain and all of the molecules that make it up then seeks to integrate the new information into its thinking and feeling system. Experiencing pain changes us, and the memories of trauma and abuse may stay with us for a long, long time.
We know that human beings have the remarkable capability to heal from painful experiences. I often have to remind myself that the healing abilities in others also lies within me.
Types of traumatic experiences are unfortunately linked to certain group memberships, for example, children and women often face more trauma. Thus treating and ultimately healing trauma cannot be solely understood as a uniform, global human experience. One that effects all of us in equal rates. How can we apply trauma in a formulaic and global fashion when we clearly see that certain groups of people experience trauma at different rates and different types?
In addition to gender and age as risk factors for trauma, when we add sexual orientation, poverty, disability, and ethnicity risk factors multiply. Of course, trying to disaggregate trauma as if these occur in an isolative fashion this is an academic concept. I know that we experience our lives through our integrated identities, and because science is slow to recognize the interactive realms of mind/body/spirit does not make this experience any less real.
Healing from these traumas take patience, courage, and prayer, and a whole host of survival skills that I do not have the sufficient time to explore in a blog posting. For some of us our pathway to healing may be confronting our abuser, while for others, becoming an activist, joining groups, taking medication, and engaging in psychotherapy helps us along the healing journey.
Healing processes although diverse also share one common element. Each of us must first give ourselves permission to heal in order for any of these healing efforts to begin.
We must first give ourselves permission to heal.
Whether we learn to let go of the pain, which eventually may be the goal. Or if we learn how to have the best life we can in spite of the trauma, the first step is to stop and give ourselves permission to heal.
Giving ourselves permission does not give the abuser a pass, it places the pathway of our healing within the steps we must take. What was done is done.
There is hope and solidarity from being part of a healing community. The first step to joining this community is we must first give ourselves permission to heal. We must see and feel the wounds, and we look at it –and tell it — that it can be healed. And we might have to give ourselves permission to heal on an hourly or daily basis, but that is perfectly fine.
Here is another way to think about this. Giving ourselves permission to heal, is in essence, sending back the love that already lives in our heart, we send it out and back into ourselves in the form of healing love. Love comes in many different forms. Love heals. In order to truly release this type of positive and energetic love, we first have to give ourselves permission to heal. Then and only then, in my experience, can true healing begin and be sustained.