by Cindy Kunsman cross posted from her blog Under Much Grace
All images by Cindy Kunsman from Under Much Grace used with permission
I went back to the feelings that I knew well from Stage One of healing. I felt unsafe and unstable, and I had to first recognize that feeling. I’d been maligned, and that reminded me that there are so many things outside of my control. There are no guarantees of safety and security in this life. We are subject to an environment that is often outside of our control. We make mistakes, and people respond or react to those mistakes. Not everyone is forgiving when we make them, and it’s especially painful when those who we expect to be safe for us don’t seem to understand or choose not to forgive us. When I reaffirmed my dedication to the work of self-care and self-worth, the confusion and sadness morphed into rage. The rage expressed my sense of helplessness, the injustice of it all, and the pain of knowing that I was just one of many previous causalities that had suffered. Under that pain, I would soon find the grief of loss, too. It seemed to be a bulb in the dirt, void of beauty.
As soon as I saw the pattern and stopped long enough to recognize what was happening, something wonderful happened. I was able to put into practice all of the skills that I learned in the hard, long trenches of my previous recovery experience. What a gift to have already set my mind on healing from trauma through blogging before I was surprised by a new, painful one experience. It was a great help to me. I made use of the Stage Two process of remembrance and grieved the loss of what I wished was true. I adjusted to the new information about the unpleasant reality of how this corner of my world really is. I recognized that I’d fallen back into some wishful thinking of fantasy that could only set me up for disappointment.
Stage Three of reintegration, reconnection and moving on has begun, and it came quickly, almost as a surprise. The gossip that affected me set me thinking about the facts of my own past – a past which I resisted. When I separated from my parents’ condemnation, I also separated from the people we shared in common as well as from the potential people who might recognize and mention news about me to my parents. I strive to protect them from others stirring up their own grief, so contacting anyone from those old, common circles poses a risk to them. At least that was my fear. I also realized that it opened me up to potential rejection, too – and protection from that emerged as a secondary benefit of hiding myself away from others.
Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery
Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
- Bessel Van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps Score
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
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