In this video, Jess discusses some of the nuances of embracing our true selves in the process of trauma recovery.
"So, I wanted to talk a little bit about how trauma is normalized and trauma recovery, in general. During our abuse, it might have been “easier” to stop thinking of ourselves as a person with feelings and needs and who doesn't deserve anything, and beginning to relate to ourselves with compassion and humanity, and recovery can be really hard because it brings up the horror of our abuse into sharp focus. But even a relationship that is 10% abusive and 90% awesome is still abusive. If we're tempted to push back on that fact, we sort of start to realize that we've been in the business of defining what percentage of abuse is acceptable in a relationship for some time. It’s hard to feel safe in a relationship when you’ve convinced yourself you'll be mocked or abandoned if you ever become a burden to someone. So, it's also hard to feel safe in a culture or a family that very often ties our worth to our functionality and our achievement despite the circumstances. But treating ourselves like someone we like and respect, even though it can be rough when we've been conditioned our whole lives to doubt and degrade ourselves, and in certain families or even religions or cultures, that they're also really good at reinforcing that “we suck” story, but that's just it - it's a story. And not all stories are true, and not all things we tell ourselves are true, and trauma literally rewires your brain.
So, there are certain skills that can help us regulate our feelings, like breathing, or tapping, or self-talk, or visualization, but often we get too disregulated for so long that those tools can seem like super weak sauce in the moment. But we're not crazy. Emotional regulation is really hard after trauma, and finding your window of tolerance is something that's really difficult when you're triggered. But very often our trauma recovery will try to tell us that this recovery thing is too hard, that it's too big of a mountain to climb, and that we don't know how to climb mountains. And so, and even, like, we're that we're not in mountain climbing shape. But the thing is, we don't have to climb any mountains today. We can just focus on the next teeny tiny baby step, and in doing that, you know, if we're doing trauma recovery right, we become more ourselves, which ironically can feel super unnatural if we've spent decades being who other people needed us or expected us to be. But in recovery, we just have to relearn or maybe just learn for the first time who we are. And there are lots of reasons people, including us, do what we do when we've survived trauma. And it's really hard to disentangle trauma responses from many of our decisions and even our reflexes. And the thing is, we will always be trauma survivors, but we're not just trauma survivors. We're so much more than that. And trauma recovery really starts with refusing to shame ourselves about what we've experienced, how we react to what we've experienced, or what we're even struggling with right now. So, even if it feels stupid, even if we feel stupid, even if there are feelings of shame, even if part of us absolutely does blame ourselves, it's a tough ask, but that's where it starts."