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EtherRoom's avatar

How do you get over severe mental and emotional trauma ?

Asked by EtherRoom (381 points ) April 21st, 2011

When you can’t/don’t want to let go, and you can’t accept everything that has happened ? Physically abused, mental, emotional, and financial. How can you let it all go and leave it in the past? How can you forgive the person who did so many horrible things to you? How can you forgive yourself and not feel like you deserved it, and it was because of your own fault this happened to you ?

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17 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

A combination of cognitive and mindfulness techniques can help. On the cognitive side, you learn how your obsession is no longer helping you. You learn the lessons from the experience, but you don’t have to keep going over and over it again looking for more.

Mindfulness helps you let the thoughts go. You observe your thoughts without judging. You don’t get attached to them. You let them float on by without feeling like you have to do anything about them. Yoga and meditation and dancing and running can all help you do these things.

Also it helps to go from blaming yourself to accepting that you do what you do. Don’t judge. It was, as they say AFGE (another fucking growth experience).

geeky_mama's avatar

For some people religion might help. The focus is on forgiving (self / the abuser) and moving on to experience love – demonstrating that love for others, and knowing you are worthy of being loved as well. But organized religion doesn’t appeal to everyone…

For myself, a lot of what @wundayatta says resonates (and works for me)—and a focus on the NOW and FUTURE also helps.

What is good about NOW? What do you want your future to look like? Spend time dwelling on these two questions.
The added bonus of this sort of self-motivation is that it doesn’t require you to forgive and forget per se—just to set aside obsessing on what can’t be changed. You can still remember the bad—and use that to be a guide for the future (you should see Red Flags in others more clearly as a result)..but don’t let it define your NOW or FUTURE.

zenvelo's avatar

I know I am not at all good at it, but I try forgiving because it helps ME, not the offending person. When I have been hurt, the last thing I want for myself is to carry that person’s crap around in my mind in the form of anger and resentment.

EtherRoom's avatar

It’s too much to try and forgive and look past

EtherRoom's avatar

I feel like I want to get retribution and revenge. If I forgive and forget, it’s letting the other person walk away without a scratch. That’s not fair to me, and there hasn’t been any justice.

wundayatta's avatar

That attitude is going to keep you mired in pain for as long as you have it. Perhaps you don’t really want to get past it.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Find others who have been through similar abuse and meet with them regularly.

Bagardbilla's avatar

Easiest way I’ve found is to realize that most abusers were themselves abused! So… be the bigger person, find within yourself to see them as also a victim. When you do, you’ll forgive them. I know there is Goodness within you to do so!
When you do, the mental anguish will melt away and YOU would have BROKEN THE CYCLE.
All will be good again and then you’ll move on.
Peace and Love my friend.

skfinkel's avatar

I don’t know what happened to you. But everyone runs into bad people in various ways who cause different levels of harm. What I believe is that the person who acted badly and hurtfully will bring upon themselves their own destruction—the wheels have been set in motion by their own bad actions. Therefore, you can go on and live a good life, and they will go on to live their (pick your evil: mean, greedy, sad, pathetic, incompetent, hurtful, shameful) lives and will not be at peace or happy. Looking at Madoff is a good study: He caused incalculable financial losses to many that has hurtful ripples all over the world. Yet, it’s not that he lost everything financial and his family, but I suspect the suicide of his son will cause him grief that will never go away as he sits in jail for the rest of his life. The person who hurt you will not walk away without a scratch—they carry within them the pain they caused you, and that will not go away (unless they are a sociopath, in which case you are lucky to get away alive). If you believe this, you can maybe walk away happy that you can live your life without this person.

marinelife's avatar

This is a whole bunch of things rolled into one. They do not all happen at the same time.

You get over emotional and physical trauma best with the help of a therapist who helps you examine what happened and its impacts on you and lets you move on from it healthily. Time is also a component in healing from the abuse.

You may never forgive the abuser. You don’t have to.

Forgiving yourself can be worked on in therapy too.

gailcalled's avatar

May I assume that you are, indeed, fourteen? If you are talking about yourself, you would do well to find a good therapist. You seem to have been on an emotional roller coaster recently, at least, according to what you have shared with the collective.

Best to learn how to deal with life’s big stuff as soon as possible in order to ensure calmer, happier and easier days in the future.

bkcunningham's avatar

@EtherRoom, if you want to get justice and revenge, it probably wasn’t your fault. If you ask yourself, really ask yourself if you want to be happy and the answer is “yes,” that may be a good first step.

janbb's avatar

Forgiving your abuser isn’t necessary; learning to forgive yourself is. A good therapist is your best resource.

stardust's avatar

I agree with the advice to find a good therapist to help you process what’ve you’ve gone through in a supportive space.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Lots of people have been abused, and many have moved past it. Oprah comes to mind…and me

You need to discuss this with someone. Therapy is great. If you aren’t ready for that yet, talk to a friend. If you are still in danger, talk to a school counselor ASAP.

I didn’t do therapy for a very long time…but I did read a lot of self-help books. Most of which helped me focus on the day at hand (as suggested above). The best advice I took from them:
*It was not your fault
*You can choose to move on or allow the abuse to keep you pinned down
*To move on, you may want to mentally forgive the abuser (not the abuse) so you can move forward
*If you want to break the pattern of abuse, then you will have to choose to end that pattern within yourself (particularly if substance abuse was involved)

If you go to the self-help section at your library or your bookstore, you should read the book that speaks to you at the moment.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Acceptance of what happened was a big step, “acceptance” meaning I didn’t judge myself for what had happened, or choose to see myself as a lesser person among “normal people” because of my abuse. Nor did it mean that I felt I deserved the treatment somehow. It happened. I couldn’t stop what was happening. It didn’t mean that I deserved the abuse, or that I was a horrible person, or even that my abusers hated me. It meant that some adults couldn’t cope and forgot I was a kid while they were trying to get their needs met in some really warped ways.

They’re responsible for their behaviour, but I’m responsible for whether or not I continue to use the past as a reason to not trust other people or to go on with my life.

I had to allow myself to be angry. I hid my anger at the time of my abuse because that would have brought on more abuse, so I had rage stored up for years and turned it back on myself as depression and self-denigrating and all those other sad behaviours and feelings. I didn’t realize then that I didn’t have to do this to myself.

Also, I had to deeply grieve. I grieved my loss of innocence, my loss of a healthy relationship with my family, and other thing. I needed therapy to help me with this, and it’s taken time.

I wish you peace on your journey to heal.

mattbrowne's avatar

By building up coping skills. Quite often there’s even posttraumatic growth. It’s best to talk to both professionals and people in real life you really trust.

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