Over the course of my life, I have experienced various forms of abuse and other trauma. For nearly two decades now, I have been on a journey to heal from those experiences.
And for most of that time, I have had occasional people tell me “Just get over it, it isn’t happening anymore, you’re just dwelling on the past.” (Or, worse, “You just want attention.”)
Trauma is not an event. It is not a “thought pattern” or a choice. Trauma is a collection of long-lasting effects on one’s body, the physical structure of one’s brain, and one’s mind (thoughts, emotions, etc.) These effects occur as a direct result of the involuntary reactions of the person at the time of the traumatizing event(s). They are not something the person consciously decides on, and they cannot be corrected just by “thinking positively” or “getting over it.” Believe me, if it were that easy, I would have a much different life.
Someone who lives with those effects can’t just think themselves better, any more than someone who lives with diabetes can think their blood sugar normal or someone with a broken leg can think the bone back together. It simply does not work that way. Trauma, like chronic health conditions, temporary illnesses, or physical injuries, takes time and, often, professional help to treat.
I have encountered far too many “spiritual” practitioners (coaches, energy healing practitioners, etc.) who, on being told I’m a trauma survivor, have said, “Well, you’re choosing to be traumatized. I can’t help you until you decide to stop being traumatized.”
I did not choose to be abused. I did not choose to be bullied. I did not choose to almost die in giving birth to my older child–after *they* almost died in my womb. None of those things were my choice; the abuse and bullying were the choice of the people who DID it, and the near-deaths…well, those are things that happened. They were not chosen. They were not a result of me “not thinking positively enough” or “having a low vibration.” They were not under my control.
And because I did not choose those things, I also did not choose the effects they’ve had on me throughout my life. I do not choose to have flashbacks. I do not choose to have days when I’m in so much physical pain I struggle to walk around my apartment. (Studies are showing that chronic pain conditions are often directly related to trauma.) I do not choose to hear the whispers of my abusers in the back of my mind telling me all the ways I’m a horrible person.
I don’t “dwell on the past.” I have learned ways to manage those reactions and effects, and I continue to work on that and on my own thoughts and responses to things in my present. I have been on my healing journey for nearly two decades, and I intend to continue on that journey as long as necessary–which will quite likely be the rest of my life.
And I cannot “just get over it.” For the vast majority of people who have experienced trauma, it is not that simple, and saying that a trauma survivor should “get over it” and is “choosing to be traumatized” is incredibly invalidating and harmful–and entirely dishonest, as, I’ve found, are many of the practitioners who claim that they, themselves, are “fully healed” and are “over it.” They have learned to suppress their memories and their reactions, but suppressing is not the same as healing, and their lack of healing shows in how they treat other survivors.
If you aren’t willing to show support and compassion to those of us who live daily with the effects of trauma, make that clear. Refuse to work with trauma survivors, or put your beliefs clearly in your marketing. But stop causing further harm by insisting that we just have to “get over it” and if we don’t, we’re “choosing to be traumatized” and “don’t want to be well.”
I am a practitioner. I support other survivors through some of the tools I myself use in my healing journey. I’m not a licensed professional; I don’t treat trauma or mental health. I provide support and compassion for those who are on their own healing journeys and for those who want to start their journeys but don’t believe they can. My own experiences and the effects I live with do not prevent me from helping others. And I will never tell another survivor to “get over it.”