Have you ever given yourself permission to feel as you do?
In my post from Thanksgiving, I talked about being compassionate with those suffering with PTSD and trauma during the holiday. On the flip side of this, it's important for the person suffering to address their discomfort within themselves.
In my experiences, the holidays can be a haven for increased triggers, intense emotions, and a major power struggle both within and around. PTSD does not take kindly to holiday "traffic", by "traffic" I mean a barrage of triggers from every angle imaginable.
There is the contradiction of seeing what the holidays are supposed to be and wrestling with what the holiday actually is for the person suffering. It is never that they "want" to feel the way that they do. It is generally a place of feeling trapped and unable to impact change. The power struggle that forms from that is this internal degradation that you are not meeting the standards of what everyone else thinks the holiday should be. Generally, that leads to withdrawal from the circumstances, anger, frustration, and overall a rather sirley disposition that others generally don't take kindly to because it is interrupting their celebration. So what is someone with PTSD to do? It seems to be a no-win situation. Either you are meeting the celebration standards or you aren't.
Not so fast, this isn't a dead end road. These feelings that are coming up, the triggers, the frustration, the power struggle are all a bridge to the person inside of you that is bursting to break out of the cell of PTSD. There is a lot of self-degradation that comes with PTSD, a lot of shame for feeling as you do, shame for not being able to be normal, shame for not meeting standards, and the list goes on and on. But have you ever given yourself permission to feel like you do? What would happen if you sat in the stillness for a moment and said, "You know what, I'm sad. I'm mad. I'm lost inside of myself." Granting awareness and permission for the feelings to be present impacts the power struggle. By giving permission to feel, you allow a form of releasing, a form of letting go, and it is just one of many steps in the right the direction.
Don't fight yourself or put yourself down because you feel sad at the holidays. Not everyone's holiday is merry and bright, but yours can be one of building bridges. Each holiday that approaches usually comes with a sense of a anxiety, knowing the struggle that is going to ensue, but take a moment to allow it to come and remind yourself that it's okay to feel. Feelings are but visitors who have come to teach a little something about who we are. Welcome them, just like we do in meditation. Allow them to show you what they've come to share and then allow them to move on.
Granting permission is a big deal. Ask a little kid who waits and waits for their parents permission to open a present. Permission matters. Grant yourself that this holiday season. You aren't on this path alone. Many others are learning to build bridges, just like I have.
Share what you are learning with your mental health professional. Recovery can become so much more meaningful when realizations form inside of you and you feel that you are in control of your own healing. It gives the professional an opportunity to reach you in a new way.
It's going to be a holiday season of bridge building here at "Peaceful Warriors". That could mean that life is very merry, but it could also mean that it becomes very introspective. Let's be okay with what comes up and continue to calm our minds and bodies through the use of meditation and energy work.
*Photo: Google Images