The other day I talked with a friend and I said to her, “You know, I remember doing grounding techniques when I was maybe 6 years old. At that time I didn’t even know what those were.” I reflect a lot now and I recall this image I would always go to sleep with at night- it was me, in a hammock, on a beautiful beach with white sand and crystal blue water, the sun shining on my face and the water calm, the breeze on my face feels so good and I am lying in the hammock with my eyes closed in total peace. That was my grounding technique. I subconsciously did it, every single night until it became my normal.
Fast forward to today, and I am still at times lost and in need of grounding techniques. Many times, especially in my romantic relationships, I feel scared, not good enough, unlovable. I know these insecurities must come from somewhere, I didn’t just wake up one day at the age of 35 and felt like this. After a lot of research, therapy, self help books and podcasts, I realize my pain lingered throughout all these years. I never really faced my trauma growing up, in fact, for a long time I thought it was normal to live uptight and constantly in fight or flight mode. I thought it was normal to be on the lookout and try to be quiet so you don’t upset anyone. I learned a lot about people pleasing. I became a people pleaser. Always afraid to tell people what I really think and feel in case they don’t want to be my friend or they don’t like me. I wasn’t afraid to speak up and be honest at all, I was afraid of saying “no” within my romantic relationships and building up boundaries was non existent for me for many many years. I was always nervous that if I show too much feelings or I ask for too much (like a commitment), the person would leave me.
The fear of abuse that I grew up with really shaped me into a scared, lost, incomplete, self-doubting little girl. I was constantly fighting to be perfect so my father would stop beating the shit out of all of us and that one day he would just realize we are so perfect that he would stop yelling at us. Neither of those things happened. Obviously, searching for perfection is unrealistic, I know this now. The fear stayed with me and to this day, it is still deeply embedded in my soul. I have to continuously work on it so that it doesn’t consume me, I am trying to remind myself daily that he can’t hurt me anymore and that I am safe.
A book I read by Charles Whitfield Healing the Child Within (check out his books here) explained that when your true self (your inner child) is not allowed to be itself, be real, or is not supported and allowed freedom of expression, a false self or co-dependent self emerges. I can honestly say that I have been and at times still experience both of these personalities, at times I am co-dependent especially in my romantic relationships, and at times I am not really being my true self by neglecting myself and my needs. When this happens, we live in a victim mentality which hinders our ability to resolve our emotional traumas. I understand now that due to this unresolved emotional trauma, I have lived most of my life in fear, constantly anxious, angry, confused, and unhappy.
Throughout my blog posts, I will talk a lot about all of these things: fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, unhappiness, and my dysfunctional relationships in the past and my difficulty overcoming certain behaviours within myself. For now, I will say that I have made many mistakes that I am not proud of, growing up I did not make the best choices for myself and I did hurt a lot of people. I know that my purpose in life was not to be that person, but I had to cross barriers and made choices that have shaped me into the person I am today…still growing, learning, and changing every day! The old Desi is no longer here, but the final version is not yet complete either. Only time and work will help reveal her.
I believe that we are all put on this earth for a reason, we all have a purpose. I am also very spiritual, I believe in God and I believe that things in life happen because God has a plan for us all. We each have a path in life and at times there are road blocks for a reason. I truly believe the reason is so that we can suffer, learn something new, find a solution to our problems, and grow. I actually don’t think I have ever questioned my childhood like “Why is this happening to my family? Why did MY father have to be this way?” I have accepted that this hard experience has shaped us all and it was supposed to be part of our lives. I have however, always felt guilty that my mother lived through 22 years of mental, physical and I am sure at times sexual abuse in her marriage to my father. My soul aches for her and I believe that this suppression of emotional pain that I feel creeps up sporadically in my personal life, fostering me to react in such a way that it causes arguments, self-doubt, and self-esteem issues.
In essence, all trauma survivors need grounding techniques when they are feeling panicked or anxious, in fact, ALL people need grounding techniques, not just trauma survivors.
I am going to leave you with the following grounding technique for when you are feeling anxious and unbalanced: the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique. 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
Until next time, get a hammock and a soft blanket- it will change your life and help you calm!
With love, Desi