From Despair to Hope
Why do I write about healing trauma?
I’ve experienced trauma.
I know what it feels like to be completely paralyzed by fear- unable to breathe, fingers tingling, heart racing, mind circling in every direction– incapable of landing on a rational thought. All while sitting on my own couch–completely safe! So why the panic?
You can never truly feel safe when your mind is trapped somewhere in the past– in a time when something really bad happened.
It doesn’t take much to trigger a reaction like this… a particular smell, hearing a song on the radio, a slamming door, a certain look on someone’s face, or their tone of voice… Often, whatever caused it is invisible, just beyond reach.
I’m also the mother of a child with a diagnosed trauma disorder. I’ve held him through many panic attacks– left behind full shopping carts in the middle of the store just to get him away from the trigger. I’ve been hit, scratched and bit while holding him through a fit of anger that wasn’t really aimed at me–I just happened to be the only one available to take it out on. There are times I’ve also had to physically restrain him as he’s banging his head against the wall or scratching his own skin… because he thinks something is wrong with him.
He thinks what happened was his fault.
We’ve both experienced trauma, but there’s a major difference.
Mine happened as a teen/adult, after a pretty happy and secure childhood. My son’s occurred at a very young age while his brain was just developing.
Trauma can be caused by specific events that will haunt a person with the memories (my case). But sometimes (my son’s case), the traumatic experience isn’t even in the conscious memory if it happened at a young age, or if it’s been “blocked out”. But the body knows. It doesn’t forget. It gets programmed into the brain, this fear, waiting to surface the moment something triggers it. And it’s an unrelenting enemy.
I understand how easily the feelings of despair and hopelessness can creep in and overtake your life. I spent several dark years trying not to fall over the edge of that cliff, just barely hanging on–trapped in a toxic marriage to a man I couldn’t trust anymore. But he was also trapped. Unable to break free from the chains of addiction.
Drug addiction has a way of taking over a person and changing them so completely that only glimpses of the real person remain.
The world of drug addiction is a crazy place. It affected every single part of our lives. I remember feeling like there was no way out…but if there were…things would get better.
It took years, but I did end up getting out (another story for another time). But that didn’t make it better…at least not right away. I was shocked to find out just how damaged I had become. Just as surprising, was how badly our past had impacted my young son. Apparently, drug addiction doesn’t just change the addict. The changes were startling once I was “out” and beginning to see more clearly. I felt so alone with little idea of how to heal myself, let alone my son. Hopelessness and despair were my constant companions. I wasn’t sure I would find a way out the darkness, but I could now see a glimmer of light.
Like every “trauma story”, ours is complicated and deeply personal. The road has been incredibly long…and the journey isn’t over. But in each step taken toward the light, I’ve learned (and continue to learn!) so much.
Some key things I’ve learned:
- The importance of facing my own giants and the necessity of personal healing in order to properly help my son heal.
- Healing from trauma needs to be addressed in the whole person– there’s a need for physical healing, emotional healing, mental healing, and spiritual healing.
- Parenting a child with a trauma disorder can be incredibly hard and lonely!
- Though there are resources and help available, it can be confusing to understand and tricky to wade through!
- Many people care, but there’s a huge lack of understanding in the communities surrounding families impacted by trauma– most people have NO IDEA how they can or should help.
- Good can indeed come from hard things: There is beauty in the midst of the ruins.
- Most importantly, I’ve learned there is hope.
My journey to finding hope and healing wasn’t “quick and easy”. It took several years of many counseling sessions, forgiveness, the support of amazing family, and most importantly– God’s grace and redemption. I’m a work in progress and still carry scars; healing doesn’t mean the damage is completely erased, but it no longer controls my life. I am now living free and full of hope!
My son’s journey to healing has been more complicated and is ongoing. Through the research I’ve done, I’ve learned that because his trauma occurred while his brain was developing (even in the womb), his brain was actually programmed differently. Because of this, his healing is taking a different process and much more time than mine. Sometimes it feels like it’s one step forward and two back, but there has been incredible progress when I look back at where he started!
I realize this background is brief– barely touching the surface, but I hope it gives a little insight into why “trauma issues” are dear to my heart! (I plan to share more experiences as they relate to the trauma topics I’ll be covering in future posts.)
The Vision for “Loving the Wounded Child”
Because I have observed and felt the impact of trauma so personally, I have deep compassion for others walking a similar path!
I’ve learned a lot in the past years–through working with different therapists and other professionals, hours spent reading books, watching videos, and researching many avenues for helping my son heal. There’s a lot of great information out there, but I have yet to find something that addresses healing the whole person (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) in one place. I strongly believe that all of these areas need to be addressed for children to have the best possible chance of healing! My goal is to share my experiences and resources, connecting all of these areas in one place.
As I’ve observed family members and friends recently go through the adoption process, I’m even more conscious of the impact trauma has on children! I’ve also become aware of the immense need for more education and support for parents/caregivers of these wounded children.
I’m not a professional, but I’m passionate about doing what I can to help families love their children through the healing process, and educating others about trauma and the need for support!
Loving children impacted by trauma is hard! It requires amazing determination and more sacrifice than you might imagine. Regardless of how long the journey to healing takes, love is always the essential element. But it’s not the “butterflies and rainbows” type of love. The kind of love that is required is the “dying to self” (over and over!), “lay down your life for another” type of love.
We cannot accomplish this alone.
We need each other. We need God.
To the parents and caregivers of children impacted by trauma: I hope in this space you will find knowledge, encouragement, hope, and maybe a little relief! I also hope you find the courage to share your stories so others can learn and be encouraged. I’m glad you’re here!
To the surrounding community: Please stick around and learn! We desperately need more people to understand the impact of trauma on children. We also need your love and support. Thanks for being here!
Learn more about Trauma HERE
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