Healing can feel like stagnation. Healing can feel like a never-ending cycle of retraumatization. Healing can make you believe that you’re rolling backward. Healing feels like trying to propel yourself through quicksand. Healing can take a lifetime. Healing is an emotionally charged process, not an indicator that you are lagging behind.
Please give yourself a chance. Here are five signs that you’re healing from your trauma.
1. You recognize when you need support and seek help.
Asking the right people for help takes vulnerability and courage. You have a self-reliant attitude because you believe that people aren’t dependable. You loathe feeling like a burden and dread owing favors. You don’t want to be judged or appear weak, but your healing process has taught you to lean into vulnerability. You’ve become more open to talking to friends and family about your fears. You’ve started reading books and watching shows that offer personal development advice. You’ve joined support groups and are inquiring about therapy.
2. You don’t feel like you’re making any advancement.
Feeling as if you’re lacking progress indicates that you’re aware of the need for change. You’re probably harder on yourself than you realize because you want to see a transformation right now. Although it appears that your development is slow, your willingness to work on yourself, explore, and refusal to give up despite obstacles is more than you can ask for. Your healing journey belongs to you. Healing comes in ebbs and flows. You are making a change. You only need to notice it. Start writing down what went well this week to help you hold the vision of how far you’ve come.
3. You feel your emotions instead of minimizing them.
You’re working on being able to sit in uncomfortable feelings. You look for alternatives to pain besides numbing out through excessive alcohol and drug use or drowning yourself in work. You occasionally take time to self-reflect. You’re starting to pinpoint what emotions are associated with your reactions and how emotions like stress show up physically in your body. You notice the changes in your breathing pattern, tingling in your arms, and headaches as a sign that you need to pause.
4. You practice more self-soothing and compassion.
Mindful practices have allowed you to observe yourself in the present and recognize that you don’t have to be held captive to ominous emotions. You react less and self-reflect more. You’ve learned techniques like deep breathing, having an alternate perspective, and delayed reactions to help you work through strong emotions. You blame others less and start looking at your own life. You’ve incorporated words of self-compassion into your routine, like “I give myself grace because I’m still learning.” You light a candle, you read a book, you work out. You do whatever you need to self-soothe.
5. You’ve started your grieving process.
Grieving is a part of your healing work, and for a long time, you didn’t understand that. You thought that grieving was a weakness. You thought it was forcing yourself to let go of a memory before you were ready. You’ve learned that grieving is therapeutic. Grieving releases stored up emotion from your body. Grieving acknowledges what’s important to you. Grieving allows you to find new ways to live despite loss.
I know it seems like you’re doing work that never seems to end, but all the little moments add up. You are in the process of healing from your trauma. Please don’t lose sight of this.