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How to Cope When Triggered By Memories of Past Trauma

How to Cope When Triggered By Memories of Past Trauma

Addiction reaches every aspect of a person’s life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It affects family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. No one is left untouched by this disease. Vertava Health’ focus in the month of May, turns to a four-part series with an esteemed author and colleague, Dr. Jason Brooks, who will share insight on trauma and addiction. Part 1 introduces us to Grace, a wife and mother with a deeply rooted traumatic past.Part 2 talks about dealing with traumatic memories.

Recognized as one of the most prominent emerging voices in personal and organizational transformation, Dr. Jason Brooks is also likely to be one of the most authentic, transparent and “real”. Viewed by many as the “youth pastor of personal growth and success”, his life mission of “bringing hope, healing, and inspiration to everyone he meets and leading on the journey for change, growth, and success” provides the foundation and focus where his purpose and passion are fully unleashed.

As a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and Chief People Officer of Vertava Health, Dr. Jason brings a heart for helping others to achieve their greatest potential and  success…one step at a time.

Healing Through Trauma…One Person’s Story (Week 3)

Through the weeks of working with Grace continued, we dove deeper into the trauma of her past and she grew…day by day and session by session…to understand and reconcile the experiences, forgive others, forgive herself, and begin to chart the course for a new future. What is often a challenge to many who face trauma, and the actions that resulted from the trauma, is to reconnect with life in a healthy and positive way…

“What makes it so hard, Dr. Jason?” Grace asked. “I mean, sometimes driving down the street I get a glimpse something and the feelings come flooding back. Or, sometimes I’ll hear a song that reminds me of those painful years, and it triggers me to want to drink. What can I do?”

“That’s a great question, Grace.  The first step to reconnecting back to life is to have a great personal awareness of who you are today and the triggers that could pull you back to the pain of the past. This awareness let’s you quickly adjust if something starts pushing on you in a way that could lead to re-experiencing the trauma or returning to self-harming behaviors you’ve used in the past to cope.”

“I definitely see that as a huge issue and risk,” Grace said.

“But,” I continued, “What’s great is it sounds like you have good awareness of yourself, since you’re recognizing those sights, sounds, feelings, et cetera that are triggers for you, right?”

“I guess you’re right.” Grace sounded hopeful and optimistic.

“The next step is to have positive actions to take when you are triggered by memories of past trauma. So, the question for you is, when those thoughts or emotions arise that could lead to falling back into experiencing the trauma again or relapsing into  your addiction, what do you do?”

“I immediately pick up the phone and call my husband. He’s my anchor and my rock. For so many years I kept everything from him…hidden in secret. Now, if anything is a trigger for me, I immediately call him. If for some reason he’s not immediately available, I call my best friend, Laura. She’s a stay at home mom too, so most often she can talk at least a few minutes. The key for me is to not do it alone.”

“I love it, Grace. You realized that the pain if our trauma, and the coping of your addiction, was done in silence. By realizing that silence kept you in the prison for years and years, and not willing to stay silent anymore, you are breaking the cycle over and over and creating a new approach to healing even as you’ve returned to your previous life. Isaiah 49:9 says ‘I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.’ You have been a prisoner to the pain of your trauma. You have been a prisoner to your addiction. But, by intentionally staying out of the darkness of secrecy and coming into the light of openness and transparency about the struggles in your life, you can find freedom.”

“That’s exactly how I feel!!” Grace said. “I knew by learning about myself through treatment that as much as I was embarrassed and ashamed of my past, I couldn’t take the next steps forward alone.”

“You are so right, Grace. With that in mind, what have you seen the results being when you reached out to your husband or Laura?” I asked.

“It’s been amazing! First, just by not keeping it to myself, I’ve been able to immediately take the desire away from slipping. Also, because I’m showing that I don’t want to lie or keep things secret anymore, my relationship with my husband and best friend are better than they’ve ever been. It’s like for the first time I can be myself…and I’m not defined by my use or the choices of my addiction. I finally feel…free. It’s a wonderful place to be as I’ve come back to my family, my children, my friends, my church family. It’s all different and it’s amazing.”

“I love it Grace!” I said, seeing the joy in her eyes for the first time. I knew the journey had not been easy, but as she was taking control back in her life and not letting herself be defined by the trauma or addiction of the past, she was stepping back into the purpose of her life she was created to fulfill. It was great to see and I could tell the joy in her was growing each and every day. I knew, for the first time in her life, she was ready to begin thinking, planning, and dreaming for the future.

Dr. Jason is an expert in leading life change. As a gifted speaker and life success coach, he is available to speak at your next conference event and would love to connect with you on social media on Facebook,Twitter or Google+. Dr. Jason can be contacted through the public relations team at Vertava Health.