A guide to help victims become survivors.
In a previous post we spoke of the five stages of grief. If you are a victim trying to understand how to move on with your life after surviving whatever loss or tragedy you’ve had to deal with, then this is for you! This is where it all begins.
Our most natural response is to not want to “feel” what is going on with us during these times in life. It is a coping mechanism and sometimes used as a survival technique. You might think, “if talking about all this stuff can make me feel so bad, then why would I want to do it? I already feel bad enough, so what’s the point?” Or maybe talking about it is too much like reliving the past and you fear it will push you over the edge, be too much to handle, or maybe you’ll lose control.
What if It Kills Me!?
Let me just say that if you survived it once, you can survive it again. If you have already lived through the tragedy to talk about it, then learning to cope or deal with it isn’t what’s going to kill you. I agree that it might feel like it at times, but in reality that is our own decision to make. It is our decision how much we allow fear to control us. Your feelings aren’t ever going to kill you (although, if you become suicidal then please seek professional help and guidance.)
In fact, I will propose the exact opposite and say that not talking about is what can kill you. When we don’t deal with something that needs to be dealt because we’ve buried it deep inside, it slowly eats away at us, like a poison from the inside out. And whether we recognize it or not, it has a way of seeping into the lives of those around us and of affecting every decision and choice we make. This gives it the power and ability to destroy anything good that comes along afterwards too.
Just as that which is good and positive can be infectious or contagious
So can that which is bad or negative be.
The Value of Emotions
Recognizing the value and differences of the emotional states we might experience while living through some of life’s tragedies can help us accept and understand the steps of learning how to move on a little easier.
What might we gain by allowing ourselves to go through these phases?
Let’s take a look!
Denial ~ Denial allows us some time to adjust to the events which have happened. This can help us find the best ways to deal with a situation which we, most often times, were not prepared for.
Anxiety ~ The energy created by that state of anxiety may help us to better focus our own efforts so that we are able to make the changes which are necessary.
Fear ~ This is an emotional warning sign that eventually we will have to confront the situation and makes some internal changes.
Depression ~ Believe it or not, this state can allow us to redefine our worth. It helps us learn how to be strong and teaches us that we are capable of handling this.
Guilt ~ This state helps us recognize what we are thinking, and to take control of a situation there by, gaining the strength to move forward.
Anger ~ We are able to move forward once we are honest and can express how we really feel about what has happened to us.
When Surviving Isn’t Enough
Now, I ‘m not suggesting we have to experience all of these things when tragedy strikes, but more than likely we will. It is just to help us understand the process a little more, because the more we understand, the less we have to be afraid of.
Understandably, our first response might be one of wanting to hide and not deal with it. Perhaps we even fight and do our best to try and stop the whole process from happening (the most natural human instinct is to avoid pain) but hopefully you can see some of the positive reasons to push beyond those feelings and allow yourself to go through it at some point.
It will be difficult, but it is a necessary part of the journey in order to move on. I have learned the hard way to just do it and get it over with. I rather not drag out the toughest part of healing over a long period time, for fear of becoming numb and just barely surviving again. I want to live life instead!
Never Go Alone
I also suggest not doing it alone! Just like it doesn’t matter “how” you start voicing and dealing with things (whether it’s talking or by physical expression through a passion like drawing, dancing, music, exercise, volunteering, etc.) it also doesn’t matter “who” you do it with (partner, pastor, therapist, support group, etc.) as long as you are in a safe and trusting environment.
Now, hopefully you find someone you feel comfortable with too, but to be honest, that isn’t really part of my criteria. I already know that dealing with tragedy is going to make me uncomfortable and I probably won’t like it, so I search for and rely on the trust factor instead. If I can trust you with my story and believe you aren’t going to be manipulative or cause me harm, then I can deal with feeling uncomfortable for awhile, because I know with time those feelings will probably change too.
The more you do something, the more comfortable it becomes.
I won’t say it ever gets easy, but it does get easier.
And personally… I never re-visit my past without God either!
The ultimate goal is to allow yourself to feel those things which you fear and do them anyways (as in “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D) It is how you gain control back over your life, instead of letting the tragedies or perpetrators within your life continue to silence and control you.
Everyone deals with grief and tragedy differently, so there is no “correct” way to go about it and different coping mechanisms work for different people. I believe at the core lays one commonality though – the need to express it in order to deal with it. After all, we can’t grow and continue moving towards our goals if we haven’t yet achieved or overcome the stepping stones which lay in the midst of our path. This is where it is all about the journey and not the destination my friends :)
Find your voice and take back your life!
Please check out other posts in this series:
How To Move On (intro.)
How To Move On (intro. cont.)
How To Move On (freedom in remembering – part 1)
How To Move On (let the fight fuel you – part 2)
How To Move On (denial and the 5 stages of grief)