*Listen to David Bowie - Changes for reference
Every change, good, bad or ugly, brings about discomfort. It shakes us up and may bring with it mixed feelings such as excitement, anticipation, ambivalence, stress and fear. Think marriage and the "cold feet" concept. It is a natural part of the discomfort that occurs and nothing to panic about.
When you've survived a childhood trauma, the changes of life bring about new challenges and old stuff to face that you may never have thought about before in that way.
For example, I'm currently pregnant... This amazing, wonderful and exciting miracle has brought up numerous thoughts, feelings and ideas such as memories from my own childhood, including repressed abuse memories; new thoughts about what I believe parenting should look like, including anger about the ways the adults in my life "failed" me, and curiousity about what I'll be like as a parent, including fears that remnants of my old coping mechanisms might emotionally "damage" my child.
As you can see, this time of transition is not only bringing up normal thoughts and fears that anyone going through it would feel, but also some deep stuff that is coming up to be released. I could easily put pressure and judgement on myself for these thoughts and feelings, finding faults with them, instead I am choosing to see them for what they are and nothing more.
Any transition, whether it is a new home, new job, new relationship, new child, or new situation will always bring about new stuff to process. There are two options we have when the discomfort arises, we can either try to push it away and ignore what comes up or we can give it a safe space to come up, be witnessed with love and let go. It will feel uncomfortable at first. If we push it away we are choosing to prolong our discomfort. On the other hand if we face it, it will never come up in that same way again and we can continue to grow into our stronger selves.
What does it look like to sit with the discomfort?
For me, it has evolved over time and changes depending on the setting and how distressed I am in that moment.
~ My go to is usually to write or even speak aloud to myself the situation and process how I'm feeling in a "dear diary" style. This is easiest when everything is a mess in my mind and I need complete silence and non judgement to allow it all to pour out. This helps clear my head and make sense of my thoughts and feelings surrounding the situation.
~ I may speak to my husband or a trusted friend if I feel I need to be seen and held in my emotion by someone who loves me who may be able to offer reassurance and kindness. (sometimes the loved ones we want to help us are unavailable to and that is okay, as long as we don't use that as a reason to further suppress the emotions. Know you are worthy of finding the support you need.)
~ I sometimes need to go one step further and talk to a psychologist trained in sexual assault if I need to talk to someone who understands and is able to give me coping tools, validation and support if something is particularly distressing and my loved ones are unable to support me. (SARC if you are in WA)
~ I might need to literally just sit still, tune into my body through some form of meditation and allow tears to flow.
Whatever I choose, I make sure that I reward myself afterwards by doing something nice that feels nourishing and helps me get to a feeling of peace such as some yoga or meditation, catching up with a good friend, listening to music and dancing to shake off any of that yucky feeling energy.
It's not what we feel that is the problem, it is how we cope that can help or harm us further. So show yourself kindness always and forgive yourself for the times you drank that bottle of wine or held back the tears or had sex with a stranger. We are human, we don't always get it right, life is a case of trial and error, learning, or as my good friend Amanda Hill says"maybe you're not f-ing up... maybe you're collecting data" in this gorgeous podcast episode) and if we can acknowledge that and keep trying, we are doing just perfect.
It is advisable to work with a trauma trained therapist through these shifts and never judge yourself for needing a little help sometimes.