“In A Criminal Justice System, Sexually Based Offenses Are Considered Especially Heinous…”

Many can recite this popular TV show introduction by heart. For those who may not know, this is the opening for NBC’s hit drama series, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. I have seen many individuals become emotionally attached to this show (myself included). I have learned it is not necessarily the stories that individuals become attached to, it is often the characters on the show, particularly, Olivia Benson.

Olivia Benson has this fierce and empathetic essence about her- it is hard to not feel attached to her when life seems to be falling apart around you. I’ve observed that many look to this show as a comfort, because the world around us is not always as comforting, fierce, and empathetic as Olivia Benson. The world we live in does not always keep people safe. The world we live in does not always believe survivors. The world we live in does not always fight for survivors.

There comes a soul crashing moment when one realizes that Olivia Benson does not exist.

For me, I often realize Olivia Benson is not real during injustices I observe. Such as, the Cyntoia Brown case or the casual rape jokes that I hear on a day-to-day basis. It is in those moments the reality of the world sets in, again.

Sometimes, it is hard to heal when we live in a world that scrutinizes our trauma or puts the blame directly back onto us. In my personal and professional life, I often see people desperately wanting to be believed, and more often, I see people desperately wanting to be heard. Yet, society often tells survivors to be quiet. Society often tells survivors that they are not believed.

There came a point where I would get angry that there was not a real life Olivia Benson (until I realized Mariska Hargitay was a powerhouse of a woman herself). I was angry because I wanted individuals to be heard. I wanted Olivia Benson to really fight for these people. I wanted a real life Olivia Benson because I see the healing she does on and off the screen. I wanted that to be real. 

But there also came a point when I realized that I held the power to be the real life Olivia Benson. No, I am not a lieutenant; I am a therapist, but I can carry out the message Olivia Benson holds. I can  be the change that I want in the world. We all hold that inner power

So no, Olivia Benson does not exist. She is a fictional character- but I’ve come to witness that her essence is alive in many. I see it every day. We can all be a little bit of Olivia Benson. 

And in case nobody has told you this today, you matter. I believe you. I support you. 

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Sleeping Is Better Than Reality

This morning, I was disappointed with waking up.

It sounds twisted and it sounds dark, but that is the reality of it. I was disappointed with waking up because the dream that I was having was more pleasant than the reality that I am currently living. My current reality consists of disconnection. Lately, I have felt disconnected to almost everything, including parts of myself.

It is hard to describe what it is like living when you’re not feeling connected to anything. I believe this is where the saying “going through the motions” comes into play.
In this dream, I felt connected. It was the first time that I felt connected to anything in a very, very, long time. My dream was trauma based, but it was not trauma itself. I was disclosing my trauma to somebody, and instead of referring to the incident as “the thing that happened to me”, I stated exactly what happened to me. During this time, I felt exposed, weak, and like I dumped my trauma onto somebody else by just acknowledging it happened; however, I did not give my trauma to anyone else. I did not ask them to carry it for me nor did I ask them to fix it. I had a conversation. The conversation was able to be held. The person I was disclosing to, I did not actually know personally, but they did not change the subject nor did they make me feel like I was a burden. They listened.  They Validated. They told me they believed me. 

They let me talk.

I know talking about trauma can be healing. In fact, I am aware that it is one of the most healing things. Yet, this is something I do not do, which I know is pretty hypocritical since I listen to individuals disclose their trauma for a living. I do not get vulnerable when talking about myself. I talk with a guard- I don’t let anybody fully into my world, which is not necessarily good. I hold it in, and once in a while, I will let it out in bits and pieces that fall from mouth, but never whole thing. I woke up from this dream, and realized, this is what is most likely what is having me feel disconnected. I am subconsciously disconnecting myself from me and others.

So, what’s the purpose of doing this?

I really had to explore to find this answer. It was not something I wanted to do when I first woke up in my groggy state, but I know that I needed to. I realized that for me, this was about safety. By disconnecting, I was allowing myself to not feel repercussions of trauma, which in turn, prevents me from feeling anything at all. Creating this false sense of safety also blocks people out from my world. By doing this, I am ensuring I will not be hurt, but by doing this, I am ensuring I will be alone and trapped in this emotional pain forever. It is kind of like a double edge sword- at least that is how it feels internally.

I think the disappointment I woke up with was that everything was still inside. My disclosure was nothing but a dream, it was an act that did not happen. I woke up feeling disconnected, again. The moment of connection while I was asleep spoke volumes to me. As humans, we are social beings. Not feeling connected can cause quite the emotional turmoil, and it appears that is what I was experiencing.  

The moral of this dream, is that talking is one of the most powerful tools to heal from trauma. Talking about it is not going to make it all go away, but it does make it more manageable. It also highlighted how powerful the act of listening and validation can be. The simple act of listening can be life changing for survivors- and that is not an exaggeration. I also learned a great deal about where I am at with my personal recovery.

I learned that I need to talk, really talk, not talk with my guard up. 

The Start of A New Journey

Hello all! 

To be quite honest, I went back and forth as to what my first post should be, as I have quite the list of things I would love to touch on throughout the course of this blog. As I was organizing my thoughts, consuming myself with fear about starting this vulnerable platform, and developing a list of reasons why I shouldn’t start this blog- I decided by first post would be, why I decided to start this blog. 

I will not discuss the details of my previous or current trauma’s, at least not at this time, as they do not seem entirely relevant to the purpose of this blog. I started this blog because society puts a certain image on what healing looks like. The media portrays healing as a destination, beautiful crying, romance, yoga mats, poetry, etc. Often, healing does not look like most of these things. In fact, healing is not a destination, as much as it is a journey.

Healing happens throughout a lifetime. As a person and as a therapist, I have witnessed time and time again a timeline being put on healing. I often hear statements like, “shouldn’t I be over this by now?” or “it happened so long ago, it doesn’t really matter.”

Healing from trauma takes time. Healing from trauma takes support. Healing from trauma takes self-discovery. Healing from trauma is painful. Healing from trauma invites good back into our lives, even when we feel like good will never return.

Healing from trauma is possible.

As someone who has endured a life filled with different types of trauma, and is currently battling a present trauma- I decided to start this blog. I decided to document my healing. I want to show others that healing is possible. I want to show others that healing is not always beautiful. I want to show others that healing is sometimes beautiful. I want others to realize that there is a life after trauma. I want to be raw, I want to be honest. I want this space to be mine. This is my space to have control over my narrative, a space to empower myself, and to empower others. 

While I ran through the list of reasons I shouldn’t start this blog, while I heard my own self deprecating thoughts scream every reason I couldn’t do this or I shouldn’t do this… I started it anyway. Internally, this feels like a risk, but I realize this is a risk that I am willing to take. 

So, welcome, on my journey through healing….