How to Heal from Emotional Trauma

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Trauma is a big and loaded word. In this post I am writing from my own experience of emotional trauma, and my healing journey, as experienced as an adult.

We often think of trauma in the frame of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) which occurs when an individual experiences a terrifying and earth shattering event, such a war zone. However we all experience trauma to a greater or lesser extent in our lives through our relationships, life choices and painful events. It’s also worth mentioning that what is traumatic to some, may not be to others, we have different nervous systems and different ways of perceiving the world and what happens to us.

My most extreme experience of trauma was in my relationship with a long term partner. During the relationship there were toxic and destructive dynamics which led to the end of the relationship, by which time I was utterly depleted. The somewhat messy ending and aftermath was additionally traumatic, resulting in an emotional breakdown and eventually the onset of an autoimmune disorder; physical breakdown. My life ground to an abrupt halt in many ways and I was forced to focus on my healing.

Looking back now I can make sense of what happened and how the breakdown was inevitable, although at the time I was spinning trying to understand and hold myself together. My body getting sick was perfect because I absolutely needed to take a big time-out to heal and learn crucial lessons.

During the height of the breakdown my nervous system was high alert 24/7, I had panic attacks when I left the house, I was anxious all the time, I was medicated…I was a mess. Here are some of the tools I used to facilitate my healing:

Journaling

Now when I say journaling, this was no ordinary journaling, I was desperately trying to make sense of my life and hold onto any shred of hope and positivity I could. I would write down positive experiences I had, nice things people said to me and affirmations. I would also write down what I was learning; how this situation had happened and revelations from work with healers and coaches. I took my journal with me everywhere and the most important part was re-reading what I had written. I used it to remind myself that there was hope, there was goodness and there were people and a universe who loved me.

Healing professionals

A huge part of my healing process was working with healers and teachers, such as reiki practitioners, massage therapists, doctors, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and intuitive coaches. In my opinion, deep healing requires some external support and guidance. The time and money spent on these experts was invaluable to my health and wellbeing and to learning the soul lessons, which are offered to us in abundance during the darkest of times.

Connecting with and receiving support from the people in my life 

When we are at our most vulnerable, we are also at our most open. I had a number of incredibly touching and healing experiences with family members, neighbours and even total strangers. For example I went to have tea with a neighbour who I didn’t know very well, but I knew she was a kind and spiritual person. She offered to talk me through a type of meditation to receive clear guidance from God, which I readily accepted. It was so vivid and so meaningful, it gave me hope and love and gratitude.

Surrendering to the greater, loving power

I had my fair share of ‘come to Jesus’ or ‘on my knees on the bathroom floor’ moments. Those times in the dark night of the soul when you are utterly at a loss as what to do, how to cope and how to bear this pain. It’s in these times that we realise we cannot do this alone, that living life from our very limited ego self (or mind self) is futile, exhausting and impossible. When we have tried everything and we have nothing left, we throw our hands up to God/ the Universe/ our angels (or whatever you call the divine power of creation) and surrender control, asking for help and healing. This was hands down the most healing and life altering experience of my healing process. To learn that I wasn’t in this alone, that there is a loving force that is guiding me and holding me, even when it feels like all is lost.

It is my most heartfelt hope that some of these suggestions, and sharing a little of my story, will help and encourage you if you are going through pain and trauma. Please do feel free to reach out and tell me your story or ask questions about mine – I want to serve and support you.

Sending so much love x

Image credit: Pottercounceling.com

What happens when you ignore your intuition?

do you ignore your intuition

Have you ignored your intuition before? I’m sure we all have at some point or other… And what was the outcome? Did you take the job you knew in your gut wasn’t right for you, and you struggled for ages before leaving? Did you say yes to the invitation when you felt the right answer was no? But went anyway and felt exhausted and depleted, kicking yourself for knowing better?

I could literally write a book about all the times I haven’t listened to my intuition! And I am writing from experience when I describe what the results of ignoring your internal guidance system can lead to. Following your intuition will certainly pay off, and not following it will lead to some pretty painful lessons.

IMPORTANT NOTE: this is not meant to scare you or freak you out, your intuition is forever loving and we have free will to choose whether we take action on our intuitive guidance or not. If we choose not to, it may make life more tricky, but all is not lost, it’s all part of the learning process and the universe gives us unlimited opportunities to course correct.

What happens when you ignore your intuition?

  • I love Oprah’s explanation of how the universe, or God or your guides (intuition) whisper to you, she says ‘life is whispering to you all the time’ and you need to listen to the whispers. She says if you don’t listen, the whisper gets louder, it starts off as a pebble, then a bigger pebble, then a thump on the head (when it’s become a problem), then a brick to the head (a crisis) and then the whole house falls down.
  • Not listening to your intuition, and acting on it, can lead to living parts of your life out of alignment with your true self and your true purpose. This can result in health issues, emotional crises and in extreme cases the life you’ve built crumbling down around you. This is what happened to me; my old patterns and codependent behaviour drowned out my intuition in a long term romantic relationship. I built a whole life around him and eventually my body was the first to literally stop functioning as a massive sign I was in a hugely toxic situation. Reconnecting to my intuition, and making it priority in my life, was an important part of my healing process.
  • Our intuition is our best inner GPS or sat nav: by connecting to our guides and higher selves we have access to information that is impossible to attain through the 5 senses. Using our sixth sense by listening to our intuitive nudges, and acting on it, allows us to be in the flow of our lives, flowing with the divine. When we are not in flow, or making all our decisions from the thinking mind and/ or the ego, it can be really hard work. Feeling like we’re constantly pushing and striving and clawing our way forward. Whereas being in flow feels energising, inspiring and full of ease.
  • Living without being relationship with our spiritual selves, with our higher selves or our intuition can feel like we’re in this alone. Like we can only achieve success through our own mental and physical work, that when the chips are down we need to figure it all out on our own. This is 100% not true, we have a whole team of angelic and spiritual guides to support us and who want to see us fulfilled and happy. They are available to us 100% of the time, it is up to us to get quiet and tune in, to learn how to hear the whispers, and to trust them.

To help you tune into what your intuition is telling you I created this short video – click here to watch it now.

 

What is FREEDOM?

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Ooh – it’s a big questions isn’t it? What is FREEDOM? The dictionary says:

  1. the power, or right, to act, speak and think as one wants
  2. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved

A lack of freedom in the extreme is literally being in prison, or being in a family or community where you are not allowed to be your true self. However, to me, freedom is not just not being in prison or being able to speak your mind…it is something we feel at a cellular level in our bodies, it’s how experience each day and each moment, it’s what our thoughts and beliefs are and the reality we are living.

So the real question is, what is FREEDOM to you?

What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it smell like, even!? What and who are surrounded by? What are your daily actions? Where are you in the world? What do you give to yourself and to others?

I freaking love the term in the image, eleutheromania: a great desire or obsession with freedom! This has been a theme of my life, and I think for so many women in these times.

What does FREEDOM mean to me?

Freedom is waking up in the morning feeling excited for the day. Freedom means having an abundance of money, of loving friends and family, of beautiful things, of opportunity… Freedom is dancing naked. Freedom is swimming in the ocean. Freedom is living my life’s purpose. Freedom is success. Freedom is the ability to choose how I spend my time. Freedom is creativity and self expression. Freedom is nature. Freedom is moving my body in a way that feels amazing. Freedom is the ability to choose my thoughts. Freedom is manifesting my heart’s desires. Freedom is health. Freedom is happiness. Freedom is allowing the full range of human experience into my life and body. Freedom is healing.

I invite you to take a moment to ponder how free do you feel you in your life, what would make you feel more free and how would you feel if you had/ created/ were experiencing that right now?

Sending love xx

Photo credit: Canva.com

 

Valentine’s Day – Self Love

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Firstly – Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Secondly I wanted to write you a little note about all this ‘use Valentine’s Day to love yourself’ chat that’s flying around social media. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% agree with this message and support self love everyday as a priority. However not all of us find it easy to really love ourselves, in fact for me it has been a long and painful journey of discovery to learn how essential it really is. My concern is that the self development tribe, while expressing an incredibly worthwhile sentiment, might be causing some people to feel inadequate because they find it hard love themselves. Potentially adding another reason for us to doubt ourselves…you see where I’m going with this…?

I am here to tell you if you find it hard and icky and weird to show yourself love and tell yourself that you love yourself, you are not alone, you are not weird and you are not missing something!

When one of my mentors first suggested to me, years ago, that I stand in front of a mirror and tell myself I loved myself I literally couldn’t do it! I tried, I really did, the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth, and when I forced them I didn’t believe them in the slightest, I found it embarrassing (even though it was only me in the room) and it actually made me feel worse because I was ‘failing’ at something that seemed so simple.

What I’m saying is often, especially for us ladies, the process of learning to really love ourselves, and allowing ourselves to put ME first, is a journey. At times it can be a painful journey because in starting the practice of self love all the parts of us that we don’t love, or all the aspects that block that love, come right up to the surface and stare us in the face.

My experience in the mirror all those years ago was actually a real turning point for me, I realised I really didn’t love myself and I needed to delve deeper into what was going on there and do some course correcting. My personal experience of learning to love myself was incredibly painful and involved huge life changes, perhaps because I only really learned the lesson when there was absolutely no other option. I’m in no way saying this needs to be the case for you, or anyone. But I do feel it’s important to say this is not a subject to ‘pour pink paint over’ as Marianne Williamson says, that is to gloss over and make it look pretty with insta posts about rose petal baths and heart shaped cakes. Haha – I’m sounding like the Valentine’s Day scrooge 🙂 Which is funny because I actually really like Valentine’s Day!

My point is, yes, please do love yourself as much as you can, especially on Valentine’s Day when many people feel left out if they are single or hurting. However please don’t be down on yourself if you find it difficult to love yourself today, it’s normal and it’s OK. You’re absolutely OK and wonderful and we’re all in this together.

As Prince said ‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called life’. Whether we are feeling loving to ourselves, or not, loving to others, or not, lets hold hands and do this thing together.

With all my love xxx

Image from movemequotes.tumblr.com

 

Your heart knows the way…

Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. – Rumi

I remember my aunt telling me how beautiful and raw I was very soon after my marriage ended. I felt like I was on fire and like a total mess; sleep walking through each day and at times being in so much pain that I felt like I could spontaneously combust or break apart into little pieces. I had an inkling of what she meant then and now it’s much clearer; she was talking about the inescapable open woundedness that leaves ones heart completely bare and undefended during a very painful experience. Quite simply a heart and a soul that is open and raw allows a level of connection that is usually not available. It is beautiful and also magnetising.

It is this that people are referring to when they talk of the most exquisite beauty being found in the midst of the most unbearable pain. We are cracked open and the depth to which experiences are allowed to penetrate us is far greater than when we have our day-to-day, must get things done, ‘everything’s fine’ armour on.

I’ve recently been very busy and caught up in the day-to-day, I have been aware that my current day-to-day feels like it requires relatively hefty armour. By armour I mean the layers we feel we need to protect ourselves with in order to remain upright, functioning and achieving. Today I took some time to lay my armour down, to allow what usually must stay under wraps to have the floor. It didn’t feel comfortable and it didn’t feel good in the moment, because what I feel I must hide behind my armour is my pain and sensitivity and suffering.

However what I’ve noticed is that when we armour up to hide the parts of us we feel are not pleasant or acceptable to the wider world, we also shut out what could touch us deeply. The armour hides our dark shadowy aspects, but also blocks the exquisite beauty of deep connection to our hearts. It’s only when we put the armour down and allow all of ourselves to be seen and felt, that we are fully able to see and feel the majesty that surrounds us.

In this armourless state I read the Rumi quote above and my breath was caught by the simple beauty and meaning of these two lines; Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. I was touched in a way that most other days I wouldn’t have been, I would have scrolled on past without much thought or presence. It felt good.

I’d like to leave you with my favourite Rumi quote, one that has been my constant mantra in very difficult times:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

The third way…

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I have been thinking a lot about ‘the third way’ recently. I was listening to a podcast a few months ago and the subject was about complex loss, such as when a loved one goes missing and there are no answers as to what happened to them. Dealing with these traumatic emotions and grief is somewhat different to more clearly defined loss, like a death from natural causes. During the conversation they discussed closure, whether it can be achieved after a complex loss, they said closure is not necessarily the aim or the end result, that there is a third way. The third way in this instance was rather than be swallowed by the grief and stay in the obsession of the loss, or shut it out in an attempt to reach ‘closure’, there is a messy, uncomfortable, but more authentic, third way. This third way is acknowledging the suffering and feeling the painful emotions, along with reaching for and moving towards the future without necessarily having a sense of closure. Can you feel in that description the third way feels vulnerable and messy, and yet honest and real?

In so many cases the third way is the way of healing and most true way to move through challenging times. In my case I have been trying to reconcile, in my mind and heart, a failed marriage; it was toxic and painful, but there was deep love and connection. The first way to process it could be; it was toxic therefore it was bad and unhealthy so chalk it up to a negative experience – put it in the ‘bad’ box. The second way could be; the love was so deep that I may never get over it, or feel that way again, the love of my life is lost, wallowing in the loss. And then there’s the much messier, but more authentic third way; there were parts that were unhealthy and toxic, they were bad. There were parts that were magical and loving, they were good. There is no box to put it in, it moves between the two extremes. This means there is no closure per se, it’s an ongoing organic process; there are happy memories which can hurt because it’s over, and there are painful, angry memories which can bring relief that the situation isn’t current anymore.

The third way runs between the first and second ways, which are both the more extreme options. The third way combines the two, it’s therefore a meandering path that traverses both sides without a pre-planned route or destination. This is what makes the third way so uncomfortable for us humans; we like to know exactly where we’re going and how to get there. I feel it’s so important to honour both the beauty and the pain, to feel the full spectrum of the feelings and flow with the third way.

This concept of the third way is applicable in so many facets of life; politics, health, the environment, day-to-day experience. For example when it comes to drinking alcohol, we have a growing binge drinking problem in the UK; large numbers of people don’t drink during the week then drink as much as they can at the weekend. Both of these are extremes; no alcohol and all the alcohol. The third way is the way of moderation, in this case it might be having a few drinks a couple of times a week. You often hear people say they find it possible to either not drink at all, or binge drink, that the discipline of moderation is the most difficult. You see the same when it comes to food; people yo-yoing between eating whatever they want, often to excess, then going on very restrictive diets in an attempt to counter balance the excess. When in actual fact the balanced approach of listening to your body and eating what you need, with some treats thrown in for fun, is the healthiest approach.

In Buddhism it is called the middle way; The Middle Way refers to the Buddha’s enlightened view of life and also the actions or attitudes that will create happiness for oneself and others. It is the rejection of extremes, which is depicted in the story of Shakyamuni; he first lathered himself in luxury, then deprived himself of everything, he realised neither extreme would take him any closer to spiritual enlightenment. ‘In his rejection of both self-mortification and self-indulgence, Shakyamuni awakened to the true nature of life—its eternity, its deep wellspring of unbounded vitality and wisdom.’

The Cambridge English Dictionary explains ‘the third way’ as a political movement in which the development of business is balanced with the needs of society. It is proposed to be the third way between capitalism and socialism. Taking the example of American politics at the moment, in some ways its easier for people dehumanise President Trump and his followers, and even hate them, than it is for them to have their own opinions and at the same time have compassion for, and see the humanness in, the opposition.

The tricky thing is choosing either extreme can often feel more exhilarating; there is usually adrenaline associated with the high of excess, and there may even be a sense of accomplishment in the extreme of denial. Taking the third way can feel unstimulating, boring and overly measured. There are of course circumstances which require an extreme response; a high level of adrenaline and life or death commitment to a cause. For example it took a World War to neutralise the threat and horrifying atrocities committed on behalf of Hitler.

I’m sure you can think of many circumstances, in your own life and globally, where navigating a third way between the extremes would bring more peace and healing. However as we have seen it’s not necessarily the easy option for us, in most cases it takes discipline, vulnerability and radical honesty. Cultivating this third way in our own lives, in our own struggles, and on a global scale, is a worthy practice. It will feel messy and uncomfortable, the path may not be clear, but it is where we find wisdom, acceptance and true healing.

Just because you’re doing nothing, doesn’t mean nothing is being done


My very special mentor once said to me ‘just because you’re doing nothing, doesn’t mean nothing is being done’. This phrase has been playing over and over in my head recently; it means we don’t only have to rely on our own individual actions or power to create and experience life, we have the whole universe to support us. 

This concept is pertinent at the moment because I’m in a place where I need to wait, be patient and be very gentle with myself, rather than steaming ahead taking bucket loads of action. Don’t get me wrong, taking action is essential and wonderful, but there are also times when it’s in our highest good to step back and slow down to create space and a sense of peace. Even if we want to create something amazing and huge, you could argue especially if you want to create something huge, allowing space for the universe to birth it through you is a key part of the manifestation process. 

I have been talking about this with one of my clients recently; she is creating a beautiful, soulful business and she feels guided to slow down and drop into the feminine energy of allowing, rather than the masculine energy of pushing. I can totally relate; I’m a doer, proactive and if there’s a problem or a goal I want to ‘do’ something about it. Doing makes me feel like I’ve achieved something, like I’m moving forward, like I’m a little bit more deserving of what it is that I want. But at this time I’m being strongly guided to ‘do’ less and ‘be’ more. 

Some of the things I do to create space and slow down are; watch tv for as long as I feel like, take a walk with no destination and in no hurry, take my time to cook a beautiful meal just for me, lie on my bed with my cats doing nothing, meditate, practice yoga, read a novel, have a bath with no distractions, daytime naps (my favourite!). 

Sometimes doing less and giving myself time to just do nothing, or do things which feel good but are unproductive in a practical sense, feels very uncomfortable for me. My mind can start to get anxious that I haven’t done enough, that I’m missing an opportunity, that there’s no forward motion. When I do allow myself space, time and stop doing for a while, I can feel my creativity blossoming and all the cells in my body start to hum with a contented peacefulness. It feels good! And feeling good is the best possible space from to attract what you most want into your life, according to the Law of Attraction.

It takes a little faith, patience and surrender to really create the space inside of you, and in your life, for the universe to come along and fill it up with more than you could have ever imagined. Not to mention you get to feel like you’re on a bed of marshmallows surrounded by chocolate fountains of ease and grace along the way 😉 

📷 credit The Londoner 

Guides, change and butterflies 

Butterflies signify change or spiritual transformation. The Native Americans associated change and vibrancy with butterflies because of the incredible transformation they undergo from caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful, winged butterfly.

I’ve been seeing a lot of butterflies recently; on cards, in the park, carvings on benches and all sorts. To me this is a message from my guides that change is coming, and is needed. Change can be scary and unsettling, however the sight of a darting, colourful butterfly reminds me that change can also be magical and create a sense of freedom for me. A much desired freedom! 

All you need to do is ask your guides for guidance, ask them for a sign, to gain their support. Then be open and present to notice it when it comes. If you have a decision to make or a problem you’re turning over and over in your head, ask for the support of the universe and your guides to show you which direction to move in. 

You don’t need to know what all the animals in the world signify, or anything in particular, they will send you signs that you can understand. They won’t always seem logical, however, and it’s up to you to follow the guidance of you choose. Repeating signs are a clear message from your guides, such as me seeing butterflies everywhere. 

Try it – ask your guides to support you – see what happens… 

With so much love, Gemma 💖