Speaking personally, the only way to arrive in survival mode regarding emotional trauma is to attempt to first resolve your own issues. You cannot move on with cement feet and must find a resolution of what caused the trauma. As a trauma survivor, I can testify it does eventually become easier to find your safe place. If you have had to shift into survival mode due to severe trauma in your life, it is imperative not to believe that you can forget about it and pack it away in a neat, tidy space in your brain. You cannot pray about it, exercise about it or feel it will disappear on its own. It will not disappear, and it takes a great deal of work to become a survivor. First, you must be a warrior. You deserve to be selfish while you practice self-love. This is a very hard task. Like in a garden, seeds of self-love will finally sprout while you are working on eradicating the roots of the weeds.


Make it your mantra in life to acknowledge that your emotional trauma is not your fault. The shake-up of what other people have done to you can affect your entire outlook on life and your ability to make good decisions. Being forced into traumatic childhood events as I have experienced, can cause much pain and suffering in life. If family members have been at fault, as in my case, years of guilt and suffering can become a part of one’s everyday life. It is not easy when you define yourself in a negative way due to another person’s ability to create a negative imprint on you. I internalized my suffering and saw myself with many negative flaws. It is truly amazing how a 6-year-old can experience self-hate.  Emotional trauma can arrive at a very early age.


Ten years of therapy with a wonderful counselor saved my life. However, I did not begin this adventure until I was in my 30’s. The self-hate invaded every niche of my life. I needed to make sense of why I lived with so much pain. To put it bluntly, as an only child I was an inconvenience to my family. Not allowed to feel or show emotions such as sadness or discomfort, natural human feelings were locked inside me as tight as the lid on a mason jar. I sought terrible relationships since I felt terrible.


Trauma can cause you to take on a negative interpretation of yourself and follows you through each step of life. It followed me through jobs, friendships, relationships and any interactions with people. A negative definition of oneself is so powerful, it clouds a life. I learned all this emotional trauma was out of my control and not my fault. It was time for me to buckle up and find my happy place. This was not instant; it took 10 years of my life to sort out all the garbage and circumstances that had nothing to do with me. Not an easy task. If, as a child, you are told you are unattractive and unimportant, why even bother to feel good about yourself or be compelled to find happiness?


This is where the reality of embracing “it is not my fault” comes into play. If there are layers of hurt, neglect or even abuse, we must identify those many layers, dissect them with a mental health professional, and work hard on healing. The healing began for me when I started to feel free. I needed to be vulnerable to be myself and that takes extreme courage.


To get closure, I did not have to forgive the people who caused my trauma. I was rebuilding myself. I also healed by engaging in interests I did not even know I had. Writing about my dysfunctional family was a very cathartic and positive experience for me, especially when I turned stories inside out and made them laughable. Creating art provided me with very positive art therapy. Not only did I get lost in my art but, also, each piece I created was fun and edgy.


I took the steps to survive, but there were hiccups in the road. Even with some triggers, I arrived at the finish line to find that safe and happy place. Remember, it is not your fault.