Have you thought this before? Will life ever get better? My guess is you have, whether you are a survivor of sexual assault or not. Whatever season we are in it’s hard to think that things could be different one day. I’m not promising everything will be roses, but I can tell you this season will not last forever.
Let me share an example with you. I will not get into the details so I don’t trigger you, but will do my best to explain.
My childhood history included a serious amount of sexual trauma. Some of it would happen in the bathroom. One of my abusers would pick the lock and come and in then it was no longer safe.
What this led to was an inability for me to be able to go to the bathroom when I wanted. My brain would say, “IT’S NOT SAFE!!!” No matter where I was. I could be at a store, rest stop, restaurant, work, someone else’s house, church, etc.
This plagued me throughout a huge part of my life. So, I began to compensate by not drinking and planning my life around not having to go to the bathroom if I went somewhere. The emotional energy that took was exhausting, and once I lost my job and was home it became easier to seclude at home where that wasn’t a concern.
I did still encounter it at doctor’s office’s and hospitals when I went in, but I decided it was too much to deal with otherwise.
In 2017, I started volunteering at my church food pantry. I only went in on Mondays from 3-5pm. I not only had the bathroom issue, I had general anxiety to be out with people. I would not drink most of the day until I went to avoid any issues with the bathroom. That wasn’t healthy and it was not good for my body either.
I have a tendency toward kidney stones so not being hydrated was a huge disadvantage for those. I also had a bladder condition that I needed to keep my fluids less acidic and drinking plenty of water helps that as well. However, I had dealt with not being able to go to the bathroom most of my life so I was used to it, and figured it was what I had to deal with forever.
I was wrong. I started to share the struggle with my counselor and how big of an obstacle it was for me to do anything socially and why. He said that’s not good, we need to process all that so you can get to living life. I was like, “Yeah, like that will work.” I was hesitant because I’d dealt with the issue for so long (Basically 37 years) so I didn’t think it would ever get better.
Just before the fall of 2019 we began processing all that trauma related to the bathroom. It took months to get through. We used havening , and sensory motor work to process it. I have mentioned them before, but will link them so you can look them up. (Note: Havening a trauma works best when someone else does it for you while you’re processing. I don’t recommend attempting it on your own.)
Guess what happened?
We finished processing all of it in the beginning of 2020 right before COVID hit and I increased my hours at the food pantry. I was gone from home for hours at a time and it wasn’t an issue because I could go to the bathroom. People even commented how much I would drink because I always had water with me.
I still have water with me all the time. I cannot tell you the freedom processing all that trauma brought to my life.
I joined a small Bible study group at church, as well as going to the pantry to work. I go run errands, out to eat, and out with friends. I have no worries if I need to go to the bathroom. I will be able to and it’s all because I did the hard work (and yes it’s brutally hard work) of processing those horrible events.
Those specific events, while still a part of my history, will not be a part of my future. God brought me to a counselor that helped me know how to work through them and find the freedom God wants for me in this life.
I have a new perspective on the simple joys as well. I enjoy just going out with someone because I know that it didn’t used to be possible without high anxiety and lots of planning.
I promise you my friend, that you can have that freedom too. It takes hard work, but it is possible, and it will happen one day. Hang in there, and continue working toward complete healing of your trauma. This time you are in is only for a season.
© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.