The response to last week’s post was about what I expected: lost some subscribers, got some encouraging comments on the actual blog, and had some sweet women email me with their confessions and empathy (as in, right there with ya).
I wanted to follow up answering a couple questions I received.
One gal asked, of the list of books that I shared, which I’d recommend first.
If drinking has become an issue for you or you think it might be but you’re not sure and you’re scared to admit it, I’d start with Naked Mind by Annie Grace.
If you are beginning to wake up to the trauma from your past or maybe even in your present, and you want a starting point, I’d begin with Try Softer by Aundi Kolber.
Now onto the other question that came in a few times. Some gals were curious what questions I took myself through in my trauma journaling sessions.
Though I will share them, I want to give a few words of warning. Some trauma really should be handled within the emotional safety of a therapeutic relationship with a counselor you trust. I took myself through these things because I am a coach with a psychology degree, and because though each of the topics/relationships I planned to journal through have been deeply painful, I am fairly self-aware and didn’t foresee any huge emotional surprises totally derailing me or taking me out at the knees. I also knew that I had a handful of people I could reach out to if I did become stuck or something happened.
So, please only do this if you feel you’re genuinely up to it and/or the issue or issues are not potentially triggering, and if you can have a good friend praying for you and knowing you’re doing this. I told my inner circle about the process and asked for them to pray for protection over my heart and mind while I took a concentrated deep dive.
Finally, I had five topics/relationships I knew I wanted to cover. I did not do this all in one sitting. That would have been utterly overwhelming and even counterproductive. Instead, I set aside 45-60 minutes per day for five days in a row to tackle these issues. Also, if it becomes too much for you, you can stop and come back to it another time.
Okay, here were the questions I used, written by Amber Lee Starfire, and as they say in AlAnon, “take what you like and leave the rest”:
1. How has this trauma or issue influenced other aspects of your life: work, family, personal relationships, living situation, [faith walk} and so on?
2. In what ways has this emotional upheaval made you more vulnerable, and in what ways has it made you less vulnerable?
3. What have you learned by going through this trauma that now affects the way you make decisions? Write about positive decisions you’ve made or believe you will make as a result of what you went through.
4. Write a letter to your past self—the self that went through the loss or trauma—from your today self. What would you say to comfort her? What advice would you give?
5. Write about the event in the third person, as though it happened to someone else. After you’ve described the event and its effects on the person, read your story aloud. How does reading and hearing about the event as though it happened to someone else change your perspective?
6. If you’ve suffered as a result of someone else’s actions, write about the event from his or her perspective. What was his background and what was going on in his life at the time? What does forgiving another person mean, and what would it take for you to forgive him or her?
7. Write for twenty minutes, beginning with, “If that hadn’t happened, I …” let whatever comes up, come up, write about it.
Do not be surprised if you feel tired the rest of the day, if you feel irritable or sad, or even if you have odd dreams that night. Be gentle with yourself. Drink extra water. Go for a walk. Listen to some quiet music. Take a nap if you’re able.
And most importantly, both start and end each journaling session with prayer.
Invite the Spirit to guide you, to protect your heart and mind, to bring to mind what is important.
Then afterwards, ask the Spirit to help these insights metabolize…move through your system…to no longer stay stuck where they are harming your present…to heal you deep down all the way into your past through now and into your future.
Like last week, let me share this prayer from Psalm 138 & 139 (The Passion Translation):
You strengthen me deep within my soul and breathe fresh courage into me.
By your mighty power I can walk through any devastation and you will keep me alive, reviving me.
In kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.
God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me.
See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to the path that brings me back to you.
And let me end on this: we do not chase after healing for the sake of wholeness alone. Our being healed and whole is a wonderful pursuit, of course. But it’s more important that we are chasing after Our Healer. And that any healing work we go after is with the ultimate goal of moving beyond ourselves. We seek healing not just so we feel better, though we will. But we do so, to quote Paul, “…so that...” as in, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (I Corinthians 1:3-4) Any healing that we receive, along with any comfort and wisdom, is from God our Healer and so that we may offer his healing, comfort and wisdom to those he places in our lives.
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Thank you Elisabeth for sharing the journaling exercises and sharing your story about struggling with alcohol.
My mother was an alcoholic, and I have trauma as a result. I am going to challenge myself to do them, along with my therapy & EMDR.