Let the Stigma Die

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. And if you’re just joining me, I’m blogging all month about the issue. Our regularly scheduled poetry, writing, and book posts will resume soon. But this month, I will be frank about my trauma and how I’m healing.

My family didn’t cry growing up. They didn’t say sorry for anything. It was an odd, prideful, save-face-at-all-costs culture. They sure as hell didn’t go to therapy.

And trauma can be generational. You can grow up in a home where you don’t see people set rational boundaries, so you don’t know what normal is either. Trauma can also be cyclic. Sometimes you have to wonder why terrible things keep happening to you. Why was I somehow picking more than one man who scared me, who hurt me? What are the odds?

The odds are high if you’re accepting behaviors you shouldn’t because you don’t know what normal is. Understanding when I should tell people to go away and never come back has been powerful. But I never would have learned that without therapy.

Why therapy? Because you deserve someone who is qualified to listen to your problems, who’s not actually in your life, and who can actually suggest helpful solutions. And trauma therapy is a bit different than normal therapy. My treatment, EMDR, involved reliving my worst experience over and over again with grounding techniques so that I didn’t feel like I was still in it all of the time.

Did it help? Definitely. Am I cured? No. PTSD rears its ugly head still. But the work I did in therapy was critical for moving on with my life and for rebuilding my confidence in my own decisions. (You might have guessed that narcissists love people without boundaries.)

If you need to process a trauma, I highly recommend therapy. And just so we’re clear, it’s not for crazy people. It’s for smart people who want to regain control of their lives, who want to reach their goals despite obstacles.