Emotional trauma experienced during childhood and youth can lead to the development of survival mode responses, which are adaptive coping mechanisms that the individual adopts to deal with the overwhelming stress and emotional pain caused by the trauma. These responses are the mind and body’s way of attempting to protect itself from further harm.
The Abyss of Survival Mode
The effects of the trauma I suffered in my childhood and early youth have proven to be long-lasting and persistent. As an adult survivor of complex childhood trauma (it’s taken me years to acknowledge it), I often grapple with processing what I went through during those formative years, which has led to a multitude of emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms.
Survivors like us find ourselves faced with a daunting challenge: we must confront the unmet needs from our childhood and learn to nurture ourselves in ways our caregivers were incapable of providing. It feels profoundly unjust, and it makes us question, “Why am I the one stuck doing this painful work, while those who were responsible for my well-being can’t or won’t acknowledge the ways they hurt me?”
Equally common in my life have been my experiences with toxic romantic relationships, my tendency to make poor choices in friends, and my recurring patterns of self-sabotage, all rooted in the profound feelings of shame and guilt I carry for what I survived in my early years.
The First Step: Self-Compassion
I realized that the first step to escape survival mode was self-compassion. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves when we’re struggling, but I had to learn to treat myself with the same kindness I’d extend to a dear friend. It was okay to be broken, to need time to heal, and to seek help when necessary.
I couldn’t do it alone. Emotional trauma is not something anyone should face in isolation. I needed a safe space to share. This I found with my husband, some friends and through my public sharing on my blog/ social media.
Embracing the Healing Journey
Healing is a process, not an event. I embrace the fact that it was okay to not have all the answers immediately. It was about taking small, purposeful steps toward recovery. Each tiny victory, no matter how insignificant it seems, is a step towards regaining control of my life.
Mindfulness and Self-Care
Mindfulness and self-care are essential tools in my journey. Taking time to breathe, meditate, and focus on the present moment helps me to manage my anxiety and reduce stress. Self-care is a lifeline to reclaiming my emotional well-being.
Celebrating Small Wins
Life is a series of small victories. Each moment I step out of my comfort zone, faced a fear, or established a boundary, I celebrate.
Rebuilding and Reinventing
Breaking free from survival mode after emotional trauma is a challenging, deeply , personal journey. As I gradually emerge from survival mode, I realize that my life can be rebuilt and even reinvented. I canpursue new passions, set fresh goals, and open the door to new opportunities. The trauma is a part of my story, but it doesn’t define me.
This is Day 4 of My 66-day Journey of Healing Through Writing and Sharing