The first step in your healing process is understanding that healing takes time. You will not wake up tomorrow and be brand new. You won’t erase the pain they left you with after a good night’s rest. A good book and a delicious cup of coffee will certainly make you feel better, but you cannot expect them to make your problems go away. Healing takes time. Healing is a process; it is not a simple equation you can just solve. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution I can write in this essay that will fix everything for you. You will have great days, but you will also have days that will make you feel like you are back at rock bottom. It’s okay. There is no timeline that you need to be “better” by. Anyone who expects you to erase years of pain in a single therapy session or power nap does not understand the way that trauma affects a person.
Trauma burrows itself into every part of your being. You become mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, and each day can begin to feel like an impossible task. You have to give yourself the time and understanding you deserve as you try to navigate your healing. Trauma can leave you in a state of constant hypervigilance, and it can become so difficult to navigate such a high level of emotional reactivity. Not everyone in your life will understand what you are going through, but this does not mean that you have done anything wrong.
Relearning how to trust and navigate your emotions is not a smooth process. You suffered through something that altered the way you had previously been thinking and living, and you are now tasked with undoing those alterations. You have to wake up every day and consciously choose to think differently, and some days, this will not be easy or even possible to do. Some days, everything will look like danger. On those days, when it feels like nothing will ever change, you have to work even harder to remind yourself that life will get better. That day will end, and the emotions you are feeling will pass. No matter how impossible life feels in your darkest moments, it will not stay that way forever. Always remind yourself of that fact.
Be patient with yourself as you embark on your healing journey. You would never chastise your best friend for being emotionally exhausted and vulnerable, so why would you do that to yourself? You deserve the same patience and understanding you give to those around you, even if right now, you don’t believe that you do. Healing means spending a lot of time telling yourself things that you most likely won’t believe in at the moment. You have to constantly remind yourself that you are worthy of love, even if you don’t feel like you are. You have to look in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you are, even if you cannot see that reflected at you yet. You have to learn to put one foot in front of the other, especially on days when moving forward seems impossible. You deserve to succeed and achieve everything that you have always dreamed of, so please don’t let your trauma convince you otherwise.
Your trauma is a part of you, but it is not the only part of you. You are not the bad person it tries to tell you that you are. You are someone who went through something horrific, and that does not make you weak or unworthy of love. No matter what your mind tries to convince you of, you are capable of moving forward and living a whole and healthy life. Take the time that you need to rest. Take the time you need to cry. Take the time you need to be angry. Take the time you need, whenever you need it, regardless of what part of your healing journey you are currently on. Rest isn’t just the beginning of your process; you are allowed to take a break on your journey if things have become too heavy. Healing is not a race; I’m not sure that it is something that even has a definitive end. This is why you cannot count yourself out on the days when things become difficult. You can always pause and take a breath. There is no hourglass with the sand running out that you are up against; the only time limit you are facing is the one you unfairly set against yourself.
Take the time you need to heal. And no matter what that timeline looks like for you, remember that the healing journey you are on is unique to you. You are the only one who knows exactly what you need to heal. Please do not let anyone convince you otherwise. I hope you give yourself everything you need and deserve so that you can live the beautiful life you have always dreamed of.