Thoughts on navigating a post-traumatic life

In a healthy state, I will continuously be engaged in Self-expression, Self-protection, and Self-care.

I can calibrate the amount of attention that my self-protection and self-care require, and I will be consciously aware of the signals that come from my body, indicating specific needs for protection and care.

When I am in a post-traumatic state (which means most of us to at least some extent), several gaps are introduced into this process:

–        I am not tuned into to the signals from my body (because in total they are overwhelming)

–        Therefore I am frequently blindsided by unanticipated dangers that hurt me (for many of thus these are mostly emotional dangers and hurts but they can be physical dangers as well)

–        And I frequently neglect my core needs, causing my bodymind to be unable to function as well as it could (dehydration, hunger, poor nutrition, lethargy due to lack of exercise, etc)

I am not inclined to free self-expression for multiple reasons

–        I carry multiple layers of experience telling me that free self-expression will lead to harm (which tend to be re-validated regularly)

–        I am distracted by the visceral sense of danger that is constantly broadcast within me from all of the unresolved trauma, so I just don’t have the resource capacity for free self-expression

The whole thing is a perpetual state of non-optimal functioning.

So how can we correct this and find our way to a state of near-optional functioning?

In order to do this, we need to learn how to function better DESPITE the effects of trauma, and we also need to manage to reduce and eliminate the effects of trauma.

I’ve often read that if you persist in doing a healthful activity for 21 days then it becomes a habit and becomes easy, maybe even automatic, to continue. For those of us who are strongly post-traumatic, I don’t think this is true. It’s like I am always on override mode, so the normal functioning of nervous system programming does not work the way it is supposed to.

In order to get myself to do basic normal healthy stuff, like brushing my teeth, I seem to require intention, resolve, and brute force, day after day after day.

So I need to decide which healthy habits are most critical to my success and survival in the short term – because I can’t brute force myself to do too many things – I will just stop altogether if I try to do that.

And what habits or activities will support me in my efforts to actually eliminate the trauma zombies? Because that is where the greatest juice is – when I can start dismantling the whole post-traumatic infrastructure, then my resource capacity increases and my stress decreases, and the whole situation becomes easier and feels better.

One habit that will support my eliminating trauma zombies is becoming and remaining aware of the support and protection that I have, within myself, from other people, and from my larger circumstances.

Trauma is resolved when my nervous system recognizes that the old trauma cannot possibly be occurring in the present. That recognition happens when a visceral experience of the old trauma comes face to face with a visceral experience of current safety and support, the specifics of which are incompatible with the actual presence of the old traumatic danger.

So it makes sense then that noticing and interacting with the many measures of support and protection that exist for me will tend to create the infrastructure for the practice of then visiting traumatic symptoms and watching them dissolve.

So my intention for this week is to set up goals for three healthy habits I want to practice (food, exercise, schedule, these sorts of things) and to make a list of at least 100 things that support or protect me or ways that I am supported and protected. I figure this can range from my own resilience, to the fact that I live in a place where there is a relatively stable rule of law and it is unlikely that my home will be physically invaded, to the specific people who love and care about me.

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