Give Yourself Space

When you’re on a journey to heal from past trauma, sometimes your present environment interferes. Maybe you feel uncomfortable in your home because of the noise around you, or you live with someone who doesn’t respect or doesn’t understand your need for boundaries and privacy. Maybe something in your current environment reminds you of your past, or even is the same environment in which the trauma occurred.

I met and married my current husband while I was still recovering from my marriage to my children’s father. That first marriage was abusive, and I entered it while under the weight of abuse and bullying I experienced growing up. By the time I found the courage and ability to leave–which only happened because my mentor pointed out that my children were growing up believing that the way their father treated me, and my not-always-healthy reactions, were the way marriage was supposed to be–I was operating almost entirely out of trauma and fear.

My current husband is the opposite of abusive, though we don’t interact much because he’s also the opposite of social. But the patterns I created to protect myself and try to protect my kids while I was married to their father stuck around after we moved in with my current husband. Even now, well over a decade later, I still catch myself falling into those patterns, which aren’t healthy for me and aren’t part of who I am *now*. The traumatized “children” within me believe, like my own children had started to, that that’s how you have to behave in a marriage so you don’t get hurt.

Nowadays, my husband and I live in a small apartment in a crowded, noisy building where there are frequent yells, shrieks, thumps, and other noise from the neighbors, mainly from the three little boys in the apartment directly above ours. No matter how much healing work I do on myself, loud noises, and especially yelling and fighting, set my anxiety on an upward spiral. It is almost impossible for me to relax and focus in my home, which makes doing my inner work and healing work difficult at best. Especially during the current health situation, when people aren’t leaving their homes as much and the three little boys have been doing remote learning (schools in our city have yet to reopen to in-person learning due to the high case numbers there).

A couple of months ago, I began to realize that more than tools and techniques and even therapy, I needed space. I needed a place, at least for a little while, where I could simply be and focus on myself, without noises and interruptions and constant chaos.

I gave myself that gift with the help of my partner, who owns a rental property which had been vacant due to the pandemic. He granted me use of the property, I gathered my resources and got my husband to agree to look after our cats, and I left home for three weeks to give myself the space and time I needed.

Today, I’ve returned home feeling far healthier physically and mentally than I have in a while. Although I didn’t do all the targeted inner work I’d intended, just being in a place where I wasn’t constantly on edge, and where it was warm enough to spend time outside (unlike where I live), benefited me. 

Being away wasn’t a “cure” for the Complex PTSD and other issues I live with, but it gave me a much-needed boost on my healing journey and in being able to care for myself the way I truly needed.

Obviously not everyone has the ability to just take off for three weeks away from their lives. Until this year, I didn’t have that option either. But as you progress on your healing journey, try to find ways to at least devote a few hours here and there to giving yourself space and time to make that progress. You deserve time during which you can focus on yourself without guilt or interruption.

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