“Will I ever be happy again?” If you’ve gone through trauma, this is a question you’ve probably asked yourself. I’ve asked myself this question many times over the years, and the answer is yes. But, it can be a process to get there.
In the beginning, dealing with life can be overwhelming. I certainly lost interest in many things that used to make me happy, and I wasn’t seeking out new activities. PTSD causes you to live in fear and become focused on staying safe. It makes good sense. If you’ve lived through bad experiences, you know the world can be scary and unsafe. People with a trauma background can stop cold in a panic when something triggers unpleasant memories. For some survivors, the idea of doing anything with reckless abandon is unthinkable.
Will I ever be happy again? How did we get here to this sad fear
Experiencing abuse, assaults, or even a relationship with a toxic narcissist can cause emotional damage, trauma, and PTSD. The amygdala changes after trauma, and it doesn’t just switch back. That trauma sticks like superglue, so you have to learn how to change your thinking to survive. For me, part of healing from trauma was choosing the life I wanted for myself and taking the necessary actions to get there. You can choose a different path. You just have to think new thoughts.
Forgive yourself and give yourself plenty of safe time and space
Maybe you had some role in what happened, but now is not the time to worry about it. When you’re healing from abuse or trauma, you must practice RADICAL SELF-LOVE. That means there is no, “You should have…” or “It was my fault…” These are times when mantras, affirmations, meditations, sound baths, and any other positive, soothing sayings and activities are called for and essential.
Bring meaning back to your life
I rescued a dog from the meat market in China, and he had a profound effect on me for a variety of reasons. Bringing a traumatized dog into your home is no joke. At best, there’s a transition period – at worst, you have six months of managing an animal that loses its mind whenever you leave. Bentley, my rescue dog, would tear up the doors, howl, scratch, and sometimes come close to causing himself an injury. At times, it was scary and frustrating. But, we got through it, and in helping him heal, I helped myself. We hiked at dawn and dusk, we watched movies together, and we spent lots of time in the kitchen sharing food. He learned to trust me, I learned to trust him, and now we’re bonded in a special way. Bringing him safety and joy brings meaning to my life.
Trust yourself to try again
For me, there came a time when I was ready to return to a more conventional life. My version of a conventional life is a romantic partner and dogs. That being said, you can’t snap your fingers and make that happen. However, with the help of friends, a therapist, dating apps, a thicker skin, and a willing attitude, I got back into the dating game in a serious way and eventually found myself in a relationship. This time it was different because I was different. I made different choices and behaved better. What can I say, all the emdr and therapy worked, and a healthy relationship was possible.
Hopefully, with time, whatever broke your heart and stopped you in your tracks will fade away, and a new resilience will emerge. When that happens, go after whatever it was that you wanted in life. We are so much better and stronger for what we go through. It never occurred to me that I would get what I wanted when I was healthy enough for it. Find your way back to mental health and well-being, and you will be able to be happy and get what you want after trauma.
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