It’s okay to fall down now and then – what matters is that you get back up.
As survivors and supporters of survivors of abuse, we are inundated with messages that praise strength. Social and mainstream media all seem to portray strong willed, resilient people as heroes, people to look up to and imitate. Of course, that is very true but it can also be very tiring to keep on being strong when inside you feel like everything is spinning out of control.
I am sure that I am not the only one who has soldiered through the day, proclaiming to be fine, then cried in the shower, been unable to eat, woken petrified in the dead of night from nightmares and so on. I can well recall many times when I felt so sick and tired of being strong, and just wanted to give up completely. Those who call me strong don’t know about the times when I still lay awake for hours with my heart and mind racing, or about the silent tears I shed. Almost every other survivor or supporter that I have spoken to admits to much the same things.
Let’s make it clear though – getting through abuse and being strong is not about never feeling depressed or angry, it’s not about being permanently in control and calm. It’s about facing and accepting all of the self doubt, the fear, the frustration, anger, trauma and pain and deciding that those things are not going to beat or define you. It is not a straight or easy path to follow and there is no map or GPS to guide you, but you struggle on anyway, sometimes taking wrong turns and getting lost but always finding your way back eventually – that is surviving.
Whether you have lived through abuse yourself or you are supporting someone who has, self care is very important. You cannot be there for others or for yourself without being kind to yourself.
Some of the things that you can do to help you deal with stress, trauma and anxiety are; practice mindfulness – living in and appreciating the moment, eat well and regularly, get some exercise, get outdoors for a while each day, go barefoot, do something you enjoy, learn to appreciate being alone and quiet sometimes, be creative, listen to music, accept the support of others, avoid negative people, try to get enough sleep, speak to your GP if you are struggling and need some professional help. Most of all, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. There will be days when even getting out of bed seems like an insurmountable hurdle – celebrate the little victories unashamedly.
We all fall down sometimes, what matters is that we get back up and grow stronger from it. Life may not be easy but it is worth it. One step forward and two steps back doesn’t have to
be a failure, just make it part of the dance. (GE)
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