As I spoke about in the previous blog, the cycle of abuse and trauma can seem unbreakable. The constant relapse into old behavior and the cycle of seeking emotional relief from all of the wrong things seems daunting and so well-forged into our psyche that it cam seem impossible to change.
The cycle of trauma and abuse is a pattern that typically follows the same steps each time:
- Life gets complicated and stress begins.
- Stress continues to build, feelings of being overwhelmed begin—which leads to use of something to cope, something to relieve the internal feelings, i.e… drugs, alcohol, emotional outbursts, physical violence etc…
- Life continues to spiral out of control, now because of the added complications from unhealthy choices, thus increasing the need for ever more ways to cope—generally still not healthy ways. And…
- Recognizing the need to stop, promising ourselves that we will stop using the unhealthy coping methods and really meaning it. Maybe start a diet, maybe go to the gym a few times, maybe attend church—anything that we perceive as externally being able to change us. And it works—for a short time. Until life gets complicated again and we fall back into old thought patterns, behaviors and invariably, our preferred way to cope or even just check-out for a while.
There is great news though! The patterns that we have developed and have been a slave to for years do not have to be our only choices. Even though, for some of us, we have been victims to abuse ourselves, we must understand that we still must take responsibility for our actions today and determine what we can do to institute change that lasts a lifetime.
I did not want to admit that I had any part in the way that I responded to people, places and situations. I did not want to admit that I had a choice in how I could react or choose not to react. I went through life blaming every external circumstance for my feelings, my hurts and my hang-ups. Until I found myself in the darkest place imaginable. I had no hope left. Life had become so dark for me that I could not see anything good in my life—even though I was immensely blessed. It was then that a friend reached out to me and introduced me to the 12 Steps.
Now I know what you are thinking, the 12 Steps are for people that can’t manage life—those that are down on their luck and maybe living on skid row. However, the great thing is that these steps work for anything that we are struggling with—food, sex, anger, childhood hurts—anything! I must admit though, that when first introduced to them I had the thoughts that they weren’t for me—that I wasn’t one of them. Thank goodness that I had reached a level of desperation where I was willing to try anything. The 12 Steps changed my life and helped me to break that vicious cycle that I was stuck in.
The 12 Steps, or The Steps as I call them, work in such a simple way; however, they are not easy. They take work and a willingness to take direction to facilitate lasting change. Step One tells me that I am powerless to change, Two and Three tell me that even though I can’t change, if I just let go and let God, things will change. Step Four and Five tell me that I have to look at my life to discover where I was hurt and where I have hurt others and gives me the freedom from all of the pain in my life by allowing me to share it with another person who cares for me. Step Six and Seven—these are where I begin to thoroughly examine myself and my own character and by doing so, I am aware when I fall into them and am able to use tools that I have learned to stop the madness before it gets started. Step Eight and Nine have me look at those that I have caused pain and give me a way to make it right, when appropriate. Step Ten and Eleven help me to keep track daily of my own personal inventory of when I have done something wrong and when I do something right! Step Twelve, by far, is where the true healing stems from. Step Twelve allows me to take what I have learned, apply it to my life, and share it with others that are struggling with similar hurts, habits and hang-ups. By giving back, I am not focused on me, and when I am not focused on myself, life is just that much greater!
I would like to repeat this from my first blog: On my own, I had no way to stop the cycle of trauma; however, I have found that there is help for those who struggle. If you or a loved one are struggling with this same cycle of addiction and trauma, please reach out to someone for help. Find a local 12-Step meeting, attend a Celebrate Recovery meeting, seek counseling to heal some of those childhood wounds. For more information on a place where you can go to find freedom go to www.celebraterecovry.com or if you are struggling with alcohol or drugs, www.aa.org I encourage you to take the step and reach out for help. Get free from the pain and misery of addiction, from the habits and hang-ups that you have been stuck in, and free from the hurts that you have experienced. There is true freedom to be found and you can do it. I did!
Director Continuing Care