Updated: Jul 3, 2020
One of the greatest assets I had in my wheel house, was my support system. It was a group of people who helped remove me from a toxic situation, helped me figure things out (and still do to this day). They are the ones I can trust my life with, bare my soul to, and the ones, who I now, can laugh and poke fun of some of my horrible life choices with.
I silently refer to them as my angels. The ones who always have, and always will have my back, and will pick me up after doing something (usually) stupid. They come in all shapes and all sizes. I know them all from various points in my life. I don’t always speak to them, I don’t always see them, but I know that whenever I need them, I know they will be there.
Your support system is key when dealing with trauma. Hell, even if you are just dealing with a regular break up, having a core group of people you can ball your eyes out to is crucial. Who doesn’t feel better after a bitching session anyway, right?
One of the things that was hardest for me, was having someone try to turn me against, and separate me out from my friends and family. It became second nature to not discuss things to keep the peace. A trauma response. A response that critically affected my life for so long. I tried not to talk about things out of fear of upsetting people. Out of fear of having someone get frustrated and just tell me to get over it. It also became nearly impossible for me to express when something upset me, or talk about something that bothered me. I never wanted to be seen as a negative person. I never wanted to come across as only focusing on the bad things. So I tried to be perfect at all times. I tried to avoid complaining purely out of fear. It even became impossible for me to make decisions out of fear of upsetting someone because of the decision I made.
I also sometimes get into funks. I try to talk myself out of them. But sometimes I find it increasingly impossible. I try to journal, but sometimes talking to someone in that core group of people, gives a bit of perspective. Gives you a side that you may not have seen. I know when I need that extra support, I know that I can message someone and they will try to set me right.
Remember when we talked about ways to cope and heal from traumatic abuse, and I suggested to “strengthen your current relationships”? This is crucial. This is mega important. If you don’t have that core group of people to fall back on, who will be there to catch you when you fall, I’m not going to say it is impossible to come back from it all, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier than doing it on your own.
That being said. Your core group of people will be there to support you. But ultimately you have to do the work. You have to be the one who puts your nose to the grindstone; dive in even if its messy, and get the work done. Things are going to continue to pop up, and sometimes it will be when you least expect it. Knowing that you have a group of people to help you along as you figure things out is life changing. You are not alone, you are not in this alone. You have to be willing to do the work, but you can always rely on those around you.
So who should be included in this group? Well, ultimately that is up to you. It is up to you to decide who you want to be a part of your support system. Mine includes my family, a few really close friends, my naturopath, my psychotherapist, and my dog. I know now that I can face pretty much anything that life throws at me, but I also know, I am braver, and more willing to face those battles because of the group of people I’ve chosen to surround myself with.
Some of the biggest lessons I had to learn, and I am sure many of you also have had to, or will be having to learn this, is that it is okay to ask for help. It’s okay to show vulnerability. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It is okay to get bogged down with some of life’s heavy shit. It’s normal. It happens. Not everyone can be okay 100% of the time. It’s not physically or mentally feasible.
A few months ago (and yes, a lot of these life lessons and knowledge of accepting and working on my mental health really did just start a few months ago), I had a mental breakdown. I was lost. I was hurt. I felt like I had been destroyed from the inside out. It was in that moment, that I realized something. I could either sit here, wallow in self-pity, and continue down a path of complete and utter darkness... Or... or I could get my ass up, and face the demons that were breaking down my door. I knew that it was going to be a hard rough journey. I knew it was going to take every inch of me to get through this.
Life has a funny way of setting things up for you when you need it most. I started my journey in February after a break-up from someone I still love so deeply. I started seeing my naturopath regularly to help get my anxiety under control in a natural way. I spent an hour every week with my psychotherapist. I was going to the gym 3-4 times a week and spending at least an hour there at a time. I was reading books from other people who have been through some of life’s hardest battles. I was spending 2-3 hours every night after work, putting in the work to get myself better. And as I was starting to feel better, and ready to tackle some of the bigger things, Corona happened.
Here I was in the middle of a pandemic, dealing with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. I was laid off. Everything in Ontario was shut down.
And yet, while the world seem to dip into a state of chaos, and people were frantically buying toilet paper, Lysol, and every canned food known to man... I found peace.
A pandemic, a layoff from my job of 10 years, orders to stay home... Normally, these things would have sent me into a quick downward spiral, but instead I decided to take it as a blessing. I decided to see this as the universe telling me “it is time”. I had five solid weeks of no distraction. I could buckle down and deal with the hard, scary and brutal things I have endured in my life. I would spend my time writing, reading, painting, spending time outside (when it wasn’t too cold in the Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario). I spent time talking on the phone with friends. I reconnected to those closest to me in a way that I had forgotten was possible. I reconnected with myself in a way I didn’t even know was possible.
Strengthen your current relationships. That includes with yourself. As hard as it is going to be, can be, will be, it is so worth it. Reconnect with those closest to you. Don’t shut people out. Don’t be like Elsa.
Don’t not feel.
Don’t shut the door.
Open yourself up to the wonderful possibilities of what could happen if you deal with what is holding you back.
Open up to the possibilities of what could happen if ask for help.
It’s okay to embrace and tackle the horrible things you’ve been through, and use them to give you strength. It is okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to see your life as a lemon, and be brave enough choose to make lemonade out of it. But most importantly: It’s okay to ask for help.