spiritual

AFTERWARD: What to do with the pain of P.T.S.D.

SOUL-PAIN

Pain is a response, an internal expression of your hurt and wound.  Pain can be hidden and create a silent suffering that no one knows but the survivor.  Pain can also be revealed by the survivor in ways in which they respond to having their pained activated.   All people have a deep desire to be loved and cared for, and survivors are no different.  Often times chronic, debilitating pain means that the survivor has not appropriately processed what originally caused, or causing, their pain.  Some survivors may be aware of their pain-blockages and can experience intense sadness and anger by their inability to do anything about it.  Because of this, the lives of some survivors are lacking in warm, close bonds or a stable social network.  

STEP TWELVE Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

You start your recovery process with identifying, and relating to a Higher Power as you understand this Power.  This understanding, in partnership with applying time-tested principles, puts you in touch with that power greater than yourself.  As you continue to apply the principles, and your understanding deepens, you can explain to yourself what this Power is, and how it manifests in your personal life journey.  At this point, you have experienced a spiritual awakening personal to you.  This has happened slowly and gradually, as you have been patiently working the steps.  If you have been asleep for a long period of time, you may need a long period of time to awaken.  It does not happen overnight.  

STEP ELEVEN Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the Power to carry that out.

Step Eleven is the daily practice and experience of deepening your awareness of your Higher Power through prayer and meditation.  You are capable of prayer and meditation, regardless of your background or history.  If you set aside the time daily, you can reach for whatever you believe is greater than, deeper than, or beyond yourself.  Step Eleven also assumes that by now you have a conscious awareness of your Higher Power, and you are drawn to deepening that connection.   

STEP NINE Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

Step Nine is no different than the other steps, and it reminds you once again, that you cannot overcome personal difficulty alone.  You have prayer as your constant companion to get you through.  You pray for the willingness to be willing, whenever you find yourself not willing to take the next right action.  If you have people on your list where there has been, or still is, mutual harm being done, you may have difficulty with this step.  There may be people on your list for whom you do not feel it necessary to make amends.  You may simply not want to.

STEP SIX Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

When I first attempted this step, I had two immediate thoughts: 1) How and why would my Higher Power “remove” anything from me, and 2) What would I feel like if I were “entirely ready” to give up all my “defects”?  I felt that if I would attempt this step, I would allow something extreme in my life, and this seemed intimidating.  My fear was that Step Six meant I would have to open up in a way that felt unnatural to me.  Frankly, I did not want to let go of what I thought would have to be too much, too fast, or parting from my vital survival skills.  Taking this step did not seem at all appealing to me.   The way I processed my fears was by asking which parts of me I thought would be removed, and was I afraid of having to live a life without these very necessary parts of myself.   My fear was that this meant I had to become someone fundamentally different from my basic personality and nature.  This was because I believed that I was defective, and who I was must be problematic.  This too, is another tragic result of trauma and victimization.  It is not the intent of Step Six at all.   

STEP FOUR: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Most survivors, unless they are in a crisis, do not put much thought into what happened; the people, places, things, and reactions to events that have long-shaped their life.  But if you have not yet taken a look at what traumata shaped your personality, behaviors, fears, and ways of responding in life, Step Four is a good opportunity to stop and think about it.  Perhaps you have reached the day when you realize that you are not living your life as you really want to.  Perhaps you feel a deep inner longing for healthy, secure attachment, love and a more kind relationship with yourself.  You may experience a longing for life as you were told it was supposed to be but you have no evidence that you are living such a life.  

STEP ONE: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."

Step One is your guide on how to process and heal from trauma.  It will also serve as your guide to personal growth, which is applicable for anyone, not just for trauma survivors. Why is processing trauma, and personal growth, important for you?  You may wonder of the necessity of going through such a process, especially if you are high functioning and successful in life.  After all, growing pains are indeed painful, and we humans are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure.   You also have a responsibility to take care of yourself, and although some pain can be avoided, there is the pain that cannot be avoided, and requires processing.   

INTRODUCTION

This book is directed to the individuals without any experience of Twelve Step recovery, the seasoned veteran of Twelve Steps, as well as the experienced mental-health professional.   The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have helped countless addicts.  This healing process is based upon spiritual principles that speak to the human spirit.  If you practice them, you will experience physical and spiritual growth, and emotional stability.   

FORWARD to Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide

Rivka Edery is a social worker who is dedicated to helping survivors of trauma to recover healthy lives.  Her book explains the invisible cord underlying the problems resulting from unresolved trauma which dramatically hinder a person trying to live a satisfying life.  She clearly illustrates the therapeutic value of incorporating spirituality as part of a survivor’s recovery process.  This discussion is useful to both the survivor and the mental health professional.