Emotional Set-Backs During Abuse Recovery

Let’s be realistic. No one bounces back from trauma perfectly, immediately, and without set backs. I don’t care how good your therapy is, how strong your will is, and how amazing your support system is. You’ve gone through extensive emotional trauma, and it takes years to undo what was done.

There are a lot of different therapy models to use during working out your recovery and gaining emotional strength. Some of those models include CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), EMDR (Emotional Memory Desensitization and Reprocessing), REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy), etc. These therapies are super effective and great.  There are also tools and methods to use like positive self talk, meditation, mantra repetition, music, support groups, and prayer. These things are beautiful and wonderful and they absolutely work and they help a lot. The tools mentioned are ones we incorporate in the Freedom Project. Yet even with all of this, pain still comes. Thoughts still come. Some days you’re just tired. Some days you just can’t fight it.

Anxiety creeps up. Fears swarm your brain. Your judgments are clouded. And sometimes… you just have to cry. And you know what? That’s okay. Our bodies were designed to cry for a reason. God didn’t just put that emotion, those tear ducts, and that response in you for kicks and giggles. It serves a purpose. Women and men view crying very differently.

Men apparently see it as taboo and certainly do not want their women crying. They don’t know what to do with it. It makes them uncomfortable. For a man to cry it’s seen as weakness. But for women – it’s so much more. For women, crying is cleansing. It’s refreshing. It’s healthy. We hold things in, we let things pile up. We take on the burdens of others. We stand tall and keep it together. We hide, deny, push away, fight with, or bury our pain. Yet it continues to pile up and sometimes we just need to let it all wash away through crying.

I’m an emotional wreck right now.

-Me, on so many occassions.

Recovery is hard work. I’m not going to lie to you. Anyone who tells you “Oh it was easy, I just said ‘Bye’ and slammed the door and was fine!” is lying to you. For some women, it’s not the ex they are hurting over – as if they are looking back wanting them back – it’s the pain and the torment they suffered that has left lasting scars. Don’t get me wrong – for some women yes, they desperately wish their abuser didn’t abuse them because they really loved them and miss them. That makes it exponentially harder for them to find peace and freedom.  But for so many, the scars that were formed from the abuse make moving forward painful and difficult at times.  Sometimes growth stretches those scars and that hurts.

I have a scar on my throat from 10 years ago. I had thyroid cancer. I tend to brush it off like no big deal but others make a huge deal of it. They want me to own what I went through. I tell them “really, it’s the best kind of cancer to get if you are gonna get it. It was a breeze.” But when you look at me, 10 years later, that scar is still bright red sometimes. Some days it’s darker than others. Most folks who have the very same surgery have scars that virtually disappear 2 years later or even sooner. I’ve tried everything to minimize the scar. I covered it up and protected from the sun for years.  I tried scar creams and gels (most caused rashes). I tried vitamin D. I tried massaging it. Nothing worked. It’s still there. I gave up trying. I just accepted that this scar is there, and everybody knows it. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s there and it’s a reminder.  Sometimes it itches – 10 years later. This scar is now a part of me.  It also raises awareness to others about thyroid cancer because I can’t hide it. I get questions about it. It’s in every picture I take. It’s always there. I forget about it, I over look it 90% of my days, and I don’t think about it all the time. But every now and then, I do. It gets noticed during times when I least expect it.  It’s in pictures and I wish it would go away.  Sometimes it’s really in the way.

Your scars from your trauma are the same way. They will be there. Some survivors will have scars not as visible while others are blatant and obvious. Your trauma is yours and no one can tell you how to handle those scars. You have to learn how to live life around them and learn what to do with them when they are visible to you or others. And sometimes, crying helps. Sometimes you just have to let the emotions wash over you, get it out of your system, wash your face, and keep going. Visualize crying into the arms of the Lord, just like running to your Daddy for His embrace.  Don’t let it the pain linger – don’t ruminate and let it rob your joy. Just experience it and move on.  Acknowledge that there’s something going on, deal with it, brush yourself off, and keep walking on your journey into freedom. 

You aren’t weak if you cry.  You aren’t a failure if you cry.  It doesn’t mean you’re depressed.  It doesn’t mean you’ve lost hope.  It simply means its time to unload, refresh, refocus, and get moving again.  Give yourself grace and cry out to the Lord for your peace, comfort, and strength. 

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.”

Psalm 34:15
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