As I journeyed deeper into my recovery, I noticed the looks and the sighs and worse the comments of ‘Let it go’, ‘Come on love it’s time you got over it’, and plenty more so-called pearls of wisdom that only resulted in triggering me.
There is a ton of self-help books available and whilst they may help some people, they are not fit for all. You can’t ‘fake it until you make it’ You can’t ‘think positive’ You can’t ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. If it was that easy then the millions of people with PTSD just wouldn’t exist.
For someone reading the self-help books who has PTSD, it can trigger you, make you feel a failure, and the very place you thought you might find some relief from what you are feeling spirals you further into a depressed, broken and disconnected soul.
Survivors of trauma are highly motivated people. They want nothing more than to get better, to recover and be the strong individuals they know they can be, but before they can get there, they do need to take a journey and that journey has no time limit, so telling them to get over it is thoughtless, ignorant and downright rude.
We live in a state of hyperawareness and are hypervigilant. We are extremely critical of ourselves and because our abusers were constantly criticizing us, we still even now we are free to set ourselves some impossible standards. Removing the impossible is part of our recovery and it takes time!
There are times when our motivation leaves us and people on the outside view us as ‘lazy’ when the reality is our bodies are fighting back making us stop and rest because we are pushing too hard, and the human body will make you stop if your mind won’t tell you that you need to.
We live between fight or flight, we live with shame, fear, disgust and an overwhelming feeling that everything that has happened is our fault. So telling us to ‘let it go’ adds to us laying blame on ourselves.
When someone has been abused emotionally and psychologically, we struggle to even have our own thoughts. For so long we have been told what to think that when we finally start thinking for ourselves it is terrifying, so trust me telling someone to ‘think positive’ is something of nightmares to us.
Our brain and body have been hardwired by the abuse we are in pain, our thoughts cause us pain, it is mental anguish that in itself turns into physical pain and can for some cause long-term diseases and the doctors are still investigating but slowly connecting the dots between mind and body.
“Positive thinking” acts as a shield! The reality is that yes, sometimes we all feel shitty, bad days impact us all. BUT! With a survivor in order for them to heal we have to let our shield drop and we have to accept and engage with what we are feeling, no matter how shitty and cruel those emotions are to face, as face them we must.
‘Get over it’ ‘Let it go’ ‘Think positive’ can all be a pressure point about to explode for survivors. Those phrases actually sound to survivors as its not Ok to feel whatever you are feeling, so we scuttle away and hide and then the shame grows deeper, so we then dissociate as a coping mechanism, as going away even if only in mind if not body is how we cope.
I wonder how many people actually know that this is what we survivors do because of the damaging words they use, I doubt if most people even give it a second thought as to them, we are weak, pathetic and should just let shit go.
Then comes the good old’ ‘well it’s not that bad’, or well I’ve had it worse but got over it’, and so on and so on. Huge insult to the survivor fighting their way through the murky dark road of recovery. In those very things being said we have had our abuse minimized, and lets be blunt here, saying that to a survivor is verbal abuse, so saying that has made you mouthy unfeeling shit an abuser, however, if we are brave enough to point this out, you get mad and accuse us of being crazy, does any of this sound familiar.
Survivors are the most incredible empathic people.
So, next time you feel the need to encourage someone to “let it go,” don’t.
The best way you can support and encourage our journey of survival is to allow us the time we need to heal, and if you can’t do that then we sure as hell don’t need you in our lives so take your ignorant, negative ass somewhere else.