I have been asked countless questions from trauma survivors about recovery. For those of us on this journey, we are seekers and we want answers. We do our research and we won’t stop until we understand.
I want to help people in their quest to understand. Actually, it might be my primary mission. So I try to answer these questions. But there is one I don’t have an answer to. And it is a big one.
Why do some of us recover while others stay in denial?
I don’t have clarity about this answer. I know a lot about what drives people to recovery. I know one primary driver is pain. But why do some feel more pain about traumas while others continue to defend? That is a much harder question. And some drivers come from a spiritual or soul level. I can’t possibly understand or explain that fully. So the answer is not straight-forward. That doesn’t appeal to our controller parts who love the facts. But in working with my clients, I have found some universal qualities in survivors who seek answers. I thought I would share those with you.
We Seek Truth
I was talking with a client today and she brought up a very important point. She said her soul is driving her to live in truth. She can’t live the lie. And she can’t stand being around others who live it. One of her biggest triggers is being lied to. I could relate. I have always felt a deep connection to the truth. Living authentically has been the only way to live in my own mind. I can’t and won’t live a lie. There is something that won’t let me settle down when I am not in integrity. And for me, this is a critical component of the drive to heal. I can’t live in the story my controller has created for my convenience any longer.
We Seek Justice
The survivors I have met in this journey have an uncanny sense of justice. They know what is unfair and unjust and they are not willing to stand for it. They are tired of watching adults and children being victimized and they want to change it. But I have learned repetitively that to fight for justice, we have to be healed. We have to live in our power because this fight is not an easy fight. And there are plenty of abusive people who want to keep the status quo. It is also important to know that justice takes many forms. It may not mean we put our original abusers in jail (but it might). The justice we seek may be preventative. We may work to stop future injustices. But one thing is certain. Our passion for justice brings us to recovery.
We Seek Freedom
For many years, I had dreams of being locked in rooms or trying to catch a plane I always missed. I felt trapped. I felt like my life was wasting away while I was under the control of others. I hated it. I longed for freedom. I no longer wanted to consider what others wanted first. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that recovery made me selfish. But I stopped allowing others to define who I was. I didn’t change my actions based on what I thought others would think of it. If I intuitively knew what to do, I didn’t change that based on opinions of others or society. I am still a work in progress, but that drive to be free has been a significant catalyst in my recovery work.
We Seek Peace
About 9 years ago, I participated in a recovery group with about 12 other people and 2 moderators. There was a woman in the group who was triggered by me and used to come at me with her criticisms quite often. The moderators would try to stop it, but that didn’t always work. As you can imagine, I was pretty vocal then too and I was really struggling. One day, she went on the attack and said, “Elisabeth, what do you want? Do you even know what you want?” The moderator was about to intervene when I answered, “I want peace.” All the tension in the room was immediately diffused. Everyone just sat there with this knowing look. I knew what they were thinking. “Yeah, I want that too.” We are all tired of the battle on the inside and the outside. We are tired of the fight between our controller and the other parts. We want to be real so we can live in peace. And that is a huge driver toward recovery.
While I don’t have the entire answer (and I probably won’t in this lifetime), I do see these drives in my clients and myself. I am not suggesting that people who choose to stay in denial don’t have these drives. But for some reason, they aren’t big or strong enough to overcome the fear of inner change. So keep seeking. I know it is exhausting at times. I know you feel isolated on this journey. But our numbers are growing because a life without what we seek is worse than loneliness. I know you know this or you would not be reading this. Don’t stop your search for the things you long for. We are here for those things. The entire human race is here for those things.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW