Within days of my arrival at intensive Trauma Therapy my life changed. A lot. For the first time in 40 years I slept. This was an almost immediate change once I began to chip away at the lies that accompany trauma.
As I went through treatment, things rapidly changed. Because I was learning to PROCESS the actual trauma in my life, some of my negative behavior just fell away. Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking the same way as before. These things happened fast as I processed my trauma and I didn’t even realize how quickly I was changing.
For almost 4 years after leaving trauma treatment (it was a 10 day, outpatient program) I rocked it! My whole life changed in a positive direction as I learned to confront trauma inducing lies with the life changing truth of who I am.
And then, when I wasn’t looking – I hit a wall and found myself in a free fall to the ‘freeze’. The ‘freeze’ is a trauma response – one of the many symptoms of trauma/PTSD. And 4 years post trauma treatment, regardless of how far I’ve come in my recovery process, I have learned that I can be triggered into a ‘freeze’ as easily now IF I don’t continue to be vigilant in my recovery from CPTSD. So, I figure while I’m working my way out of the smelly sludge of trauma that I might suggest some things that you can do if you find yourself in the freeze again. I can tell you that you can be ok again.
Don’t try to hide from it or deny that you are acting (or not acting) from a place of unresolved or re-triggered trauma. Whatever it is, it will keep you ‘in the freeze’ if it’s not dealt with and processed appropriately. Besides, those that know and love you already know that something is going on. Just simply admit that you are struggling after being triggered and that you are working to get back on track with your trauma recovery work… and then begin to actually make those steps again towards ongoing recovery.
Especially while you are in a trauma response mode, making any sort of decision about anything will be overwhelming and stressful, and the more pressure you place on yourself to make the “right move, right now” will make the process more difficult. For me, if I feel trapped by my and other people’s expectations and I and everyone else is ‘shoulding’ all over me about what needs to be done, I will find myself in the freeze once again. It will just push me further back from being able to process the trauma response that got me to the place of being in the freeze again. It’s OKAY to tell those around you to back up or back off a bit while you process and work through the trauma. However, accountability is important at this juncture, lest you get comfy in the trauma and never make a move toward getting past ‘the freeze’. People that love you won’t let you just stay in a trauma response state without checking in with you. Honesty is paramount.
As much as I would love for someone else to come along and make it all better for me, the truth is that no one else can. A full blown trauma response (the ‘freeze’, among others) occurs because I am triggered by a sound, touch, smell, taste or something I see and it reminds me of a trauma I suffered in the past (hence, POST-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD). Some of those living with trauma may not even be aware of what their triggers are but it’s important to be familiar with them in order to know how to guard against being triggered by anything and everything. Don’t let your feelings or circumstances stop you from DOING the things you need to do to get past the freeze. Call a friend, call a therapist, or call your Pastor… but call someone that is safe to lean on in these tough circumstances.