Begin to believe that the qualities that led you to your trauma are the same qualities that have the potential to lead you out of it.
Each time that I've looked into the eyes of someone suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder there isn't much to be said because the eyes meet in understanding. It's a feeling of "I know where you are, even if I don't know where you've been". We each travel our own path in our own way, so there is no way to truly know what someone else's path has held for them. We can't truly know their individual experiences, but we can feel each other's suffering and we can relate to the feeling of being trapped inside our own skin. It's as if the "you" that you've always been, the core person that makes you who you are is inside of you behind a pane of very thick, fortified glass. You are behind that glass with your hands and face pressed against it, saying quietly, "I'm still in here. Please someone notice that I am still in here. I am still me.", but somehow nothing seems to shatter the glass and set you free. Instead you are left feeling the "you" that doesn't feel in control of anything. The "you" that feels broken. The "you" that feels changed. The "you" that feels somehow shattered and tattered by trauma. The "you" that feels as if pieces of yourself have chipped off and fallen away, never to return.
Look at the path behind you. It isn't littered with pieces of the good in you. It's littered with the dark recesses of your experiences. It's littered with dust, debris, and a heavy heart. You search high and low, over here and over there, hoping something will either numb the pain, drown the pain, or light you up inside again. Some travel to escape, some drink, some turn to drugs, some turn to prescription abuse, some turn to other more dangerous methods of numbing and escaping in search of some semblance of relief or some piece of themselves that they recognize. When you have PTSD, you no longer recognize the person looking back at you in the mirror.
I've come out from behind the glass and am honored to show you the way that I was able to breathe again. My eyes used to burn every time I sat with a soldier who had PTSD and I could see their eyes turn red. We both felt the heat of being found out. We knew without speaking that each other had the dreaded "P" word that we thought we concealed so well. It was as if we were looking in a mirror. The suffering was somehow the same, even though the experiences were so drastically different. But it was these same soldiers who pointed out the good in me over and over again, as I did in return. I didn't look at them and see a broken soul. I saw strength, a sense of humor, wisdom, intrigue, and curiosity. If I could see that in them, then it must exist in them, just as the praise they gave to me, must have existed inside of me.
Our reality is often based on the perception we hold of ourselves internally. If we give up on ourselves and believe that we will not survive this, we probably won't. If we believe in the strength of who we are and the qualities that make us great leaders are still in our DNA, then we must encourage those qualities to rise up and do what they did when we were at our best. They cannot fail us now because the odds feel like they are against us.
When you have ptsd, the mind can be like a bad neighborhood. You feel like you don't want to go there alone, but go there you must. You must find out that fear was really the only thing holding you back and that when you address the fear, it no longer holds any power over you.
Meditation doesn't unlock doors of trauma and desperation. Meditation taps into the part of your brain that reminds you that you are in a place of safety, that it's okay to be here because this calm place is who you truly are when you are at your best. It has always existed inside of you, but you have to remember that it's there. Always waiting. Always watching. Always hoping you will remember who you are and that you will come home to it.