Trying to heal from a traumatic event

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    Hi all,

    I have been a part of the Tiny Buddha community for a while now. I stumbled across the forum in some of my darkest days and I must say the support has been incredible.

    I guess I am seeking further help/advice from those who may share similar experiences or are going through a healing process themselves.

    I went through an extremely traumatic event some 4 months ago (I won’t go into too much detail on this as it’s too painful). In the process of this I lost a person very dear to me, my long term relationship, my job, my whole life as I knew it.

    I was left alone and forced to pick up the pieces of my shattered self and if I’m honest I have been down a dark path ever since. I can probably admit to myself now that I am suffering with depression and it pains me to admit that I have also thought of suicide on a few occasions – it is a very scary place to be.

    In any case, my coping mechanism has been to completely block the event out of my life only to learn that every so often it catches up to you in a wave and makes me spiral into complete darkness with no way out.

    I want to get better. I acknowledge that I probably will hold the pain of this event for the rest of my life but I no longer want to allow it to control me. I MUST move forward in my life.

    I have no idea where to start. I hate the person that I have become as a result. It seems impossible to even think that I’ll ever move past this dark time in my life.

    I guess I am just looking for some advice on how to help myself heal. I would like to do whatever necessary to be better at accepting that this chapter was a part of my life, but it will not determine whatever is left of it.


    You won’t move forward. To respect pain is to ACCEPT, not ignore it. The only way out is in.

    Cry. Feel sad. Feel angry. Feel. As much as you can. In whatever way allows you to. Feel as much as possible. That and only that will truly move you through this. Your willingness to feel and what you have felt within yourself is the only barometer of your healing.

    This chapter of your life is going to drastically shape who you will become, you are experiencing a metaphorical death.

    You have to accept that you have been shaken, there is no turning back. You have been beaten by life. Cry. Mourn. Accept the truth. It would be madness not to feel fucked up. So feel fucked up. Allow it to be, and you will suffer FAR, FAR less.

    Feel it to heal it, your only goal as far I’m concerned is to feel the pain you are trying to avoid. Only in doing that will you truly, TRULY move forward.

    Accept this death and you will be f*cking reborn.


    Chris is right. I am totally dealing with a very similar situation Kkasxo.


    The only way forward, is through. I buried my original trauma for almost 40 years. It got free and I dealt with it finally. But there was another trauma I had not dealt with. And it very well may cost me my family and my marriage of 15 years. But my wife calling my attention to it has allowed me to zero in on it and deal with it. I have now learned from experience that you may be able to bury these things for awhile, maybe with the use of chemical and alcoholic intervention, but sooner or later, it’s coming back. And the longer you take to deal with it, the worse it’s going to be when you have to.


    Think of it as a literal wound. Imagine you had a gunshot wound, and the trauma, the bullet, was still inside you. You could technically ignore it assuming you weren’t bleeding out. But that bullet is gonna move through your body as your body attempts to expel it. It might come out the other side and rip open a new wound. It might burrow its way to your heart and you drop dead. But, if you take the time to get the bullet out while the wound is fresh, you do less damage in the long run. It’s gonna hurt either way. You might as well deal with it while already hurting.


    Just know this. You are loved. You may not feel like it. You may think you are alone. You aren’t.  Not just talking about all of us strangers here on the internet, either. Those around you love and care about you as well. My thoughts have often gone to the darker side, but I have never once made plans to follow through. If you ever feel that way, please get in contact with someone. Call a hotline, a friend, a family member, post here and wait a few hours before doing something. Please.


    The end result of what those thoughts entail are a very permanent ending to a very not permanent problem.


    This too, shall pass.


    Dear kkasxo,

    I want to get better.

    I MUST move forward in my life

    Your intentions are clear and the right ones. Very often we find that the mind seems to know what it wants but the heart is unwilling to follow.

    Though the mind knows what is needed, it is often the biggest saboteur that hinders healing. The way we think influences our behaviors much more than we can ever imagine. Once we figure that out we can move forward in our process of healing.

    What are the steps that you have taken for your healing? In the steps that you have taken what has been the most helpful ones? What are the roadblocks that you have faced?



    Chris, John & Prash,

    Thank you so much for the insight.

    I think the main advice from yourselves is to face the trauma head on. Now rationally I realise that this is the best thing to do, however realistically it is proving very difficult. When the particular event occurred I shut it out of my brain completely so not to hurt those closest to me by seeing me hurt. Almost like I had to put on a brave face to support others who may be feeling my pain for me. Like you all mentioned, the feelings of loss and grief caught up with me very quickly and I found myself spiralling into such a dark place that I did think of the ultimate end. That scared me, a lot. And so a coping mechanism to get back to that place has been ignoring the event all together.

    Now that’s not to say I haven’t thought about it at all, I do, every single day. I just try and shake the thoughts out of my head as soon as they appear so I don’t spiral again.

    It seems impossible right now to face those feelings as I am fearful of the repercussions of this.

    I have applied to a counselling programme to help me deal with this trauma but unfortunately have been put on a 3 month waiting list, so I am still waiting for this.

    I realise that the event has caused me to become someone I completely don’t recognise. I find myself triggered by the littlest of things. I am no longer a trusting person. I have completely closed myself off from my family and friends and most of the time just prefer to be in my own company. Yes I lost a dear one, my relationship, my job but I also lost the woman that I was in the process. Everything that I was so sure of about myself has gone out of the window and this new woman, I don’t know who she is or what she is about, she is broken.

    I am hoping that my counselling sessions help once I eventually get access to those however in the meantime I would like to practice anything to help my own self in the healing process as it is eating me up and not allowing me to function properly.

    Prash – you ask what steps I have taken so far for my healing. If I’m honest, I’ve tried to take all the advice previously given and keep myself occupied, start a new hobby (gym), try to go on with life – it hasn’t worked. I’ve been reading loads of self-help books but if I’m honest it sounds all like intelligent mumbo jumbo which I can’t apply to my life. It is nice reading it, but it is a different thing trying to apply it to your own life. The main roadblock that I have faced to my recovery is my ex partner. He and his family played a major part in the traumatic event. He is aware of this and I suppose is somewhat trying to make amends and with that he has contacted me twice in the attempt to reconcile and help me through the healing process. He basically can’t bare to see what I am going through despite the fact that he caused it and knew full well what he was doing while it was happening. But despite my rational mind knowing that this is hindering my progress, as we say the heart wants what it wants and so I tend to cave in to the idea of a reconciliation with him. However, when we are together now all of the feelings of hurt and betrayal arise again, there is an awful lot of resentment and anger towards him and his family for allowing this event to happen in the first place. For breaking me this way.

    I have done some reading into forgiveness. I realise that to forgive doesn’t mean I have to excuse the behaviour of those that did me wrong. Rather, it is just giving myself the peace of mind to not allow those feelings to control me – I’m trying to work on this as we speak but again, proving very difficult as I am struggling to accept that this has actually happened to me.

    Essentially it feels like I’m going around in circles with all these emotions that I cant quite accept or deal with. I cannot accept that this event has been a part of my life and I do feel like it will have a major effect on my future.

    Thank you all for taking the time to respond to me, it means the world right now! I am most welcoming of any further ideas/advice on how I can move on from this.


    Dear Kkasxo:

    You wrote that you experienced “an extremely traumatic event some 4 months ago”. From previous threads that event followed a perfect 2.5 year relationship. What preceded the event was a difference of opinion between you and your boyfriend at the time.

    His family “took his side”, his mother texted you that her son, your then boyfriend, had a choice to make: you or his family. There were “weeks of emotional abuse” by his family who “actually became bullies”, someone from his family showed up at your home, and your then boyfriend withdrew from you. The extremely traumatic event took place sometime during the weeks of emotional abuse and bullying, and you don’t want to  give any details of it.

    You asked and received advice, read loads of self help books, but none helped you. “It is nice reading it, but it is a different thing trying to apply it to your own life”. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to give you advice and input you didn’t already receive without knowing what happened.

    Somehow, somewhere, you will have to tell someone what happened: what was the nature of that difference of opinion? What was the nature of the abuse?

    Depending on the details, the healing you are seeking may require turning to the legal authorities or the courts for a legal resolution and prosecution, maybe a monetary compensation, depending on the nature of the abuse you suffered from the multiple adults in his family.






    Dear Kkasxo,

    You are welcome. The event in question seems to have been of significant proportions for you to be affected the way you are.

    Given that it has been such a huge thing for you, I assume that what had happened then is still impacting many aspects of your day to day functioning. Even anything that is remotely connected to it is disturbing for you.

    You seem to have lost the ability to trust and therefore prefer to avoid people. You prefer to be alone but even in solitude you are not comfortable as you feel the situation has also changed who you are.

    I am in no position to totally understand exactly what you are going through however I will share some of the things that helped me deal with a life changing situation. In my situation in the beginning I was stuck trying to change whatever I could, to try and get my situation to get back to how it was before the event happened. I was in a bind, struggling between the reality of the situation and my desperate and futile attempts to get back my past. What helped was a gradual process of acceptance, a decision to not keep my life on hold irrespective of what emotions I was going through.

    I allowed myself to feel the uncomfortable feelings of regret, loss and hurt but made myself continue with my life despite those feelings. Mindfulness and meditation helped. Seeking and acknowledging the presence of a higher power helped. A decision to let go of the past and make the best use of what I have in the present helped. This is not to say that the pain is gone, I still feel it at times. But it is in the background whereas I function in the foreground.

    You mentioned about reading self help books and finding it difficult to apply. Have you tried readings related to CBT?



    Anita – thank you for your response.

    I am not interested in involving any local authorities in this instance. I think it would complicate matters further and definitely not give me the sense of calm/relief that I need. Also, I understand that you may not be able to offer in depth insight into healing without knowing the true reason behind the trauma however I am not keen on discussing this in detail. I’m sorry if that is no help to you.

    Prash – Yes see, the advice to feel the feelings. This one is particularly hard for me although you and many others have mentioned that this does help in the long run. What tends to happen when I really allow all those feelings through me is the spiral into a dark and scary place and in that moment nothing else matters but the pain that I am feeling. Its overwhelming and it makes me completely irrational looking for a quick way out! It’s truly terrifying and I think maybe that’s why I have been avoiding it for so long.

    Can you please go into a little more detail on CBT? Someone has previously mentioned this to me but I am not sure what it is all about.


    Dear Kkasxo:

    You are welcome. I would have been okay with you sharing what happened here only if it would have been okay with you, if you thought it could help you. Wishing you healing and feeling better soon!



    Dear Kkasxo,

    The overwhelming sensation and the scary place are all too familiar. I totally understand when you say that the pain is all that you feel. But I am certain that with time things will be better for you. Wish you the best for that.

    With regards to CBT you can read more on that here –

    “Feeling Good” by David Burns is a good self help book based on that. Till you attend formal counselling, this may help you.

    Take care.




    Dear Kkasxo:

    I read some of your recent posts on the other thread today and I think I have some new understanding this morning. I thought before of your situation as a breakup, but I think it is a story of betrayal. The main issue is betrayal, with a capital B, Betrayal. It happens when you blindly trusted another person and he (or she) betrayed your trust in a severe way, with no way back to trusting that person. No way to blindly trusting anyone, anymore.

    There is a shattering of one’s knowing of oneself, others and life that happens with a Betrayal. It is like a major earthquake with many after shocks. There is a sense of not knowing anymore. The knowing is now in the past, in the before-the-Betrayal, and nothing is the same anymore, all is strange, foreign. Is this how you feel?

    If it is, then there is only one way to heal and that is to start from the beginning.

    Mindfulness, do anything you do  daily mindfully, with a “beginning mind” state of mind. Do all your routine tasks with that beginning mind, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, pay attention as if you were doing each such task for the first time. Learn about you, about others, about life… from the beginning. You will be building a new foundation to stand on, one to substitute for the foundation shattered in that major earthquake.

    Today is the first day of the second part of your life, a new beginning. In this beginning, your ex boyfriend must have no part, no contact whatsoever. Not for the purpose of weakening the emotional attachment to him, but because his Betrayal of you is unforgivable and you should not live with more shaking under your feet.

    If indeed he betrayed you, with a capital B, in real life terms (the details of which I don’t know, but you do), he must be out of your life completely, in no uncertain terms.

    Make today, this very moment, your new beginning.


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by anita.


    All I can say is that you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head there. I agree with everything that you have said and quite frankly I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

    He has betrayed me, in a way that I thought was impossible. Do I think it is something I will be able to forgive? No. The ghost of this event will haunt me for the rest of my life and I am absolutely sure of that.

    I believe you are right in saying that he must no longer have a place in my life because of this – it is just much harder to put into practice because of who I am as a person. I always try to see the good in people and I am also very understanding of the fact that we are only human and sometimes we will make mistakes, sometimes terrible mistakes (which doesn’t of course excuse his behaviour in this instance) but nonetheless is a constant mind battle for me. He seems truly apologetic for this.


    Dear Kkasxo:

    There is no woman more powerful in a boy’s life than his mother. When a boy’s mother abuses her power, her boy becomes .. well, her man, that is, still a boy forever more, loyal to her. And so, his loyalty to her was a betrayal of you. And he lives with her, I understand, currently.

    You view it from a different perspective than he does. For you, he betrayed you. For him, he was loyal to his mother.

    You mentioned the word mistake in your recent post. What I referred to as betrayal with a capital B is not a mistake. A mistake is limited in time and is a singular main event. Betrayal is ongoing, months and years of it, multiple major events.




    Hi Anita,

    Yes he is currently living with his family. He is a hard-working man and one of the two main providers for the family (financially) and I believe this plays a big part in him continuing to live at home as his mother and family are dependant on him. He wouldn’t want to disappoint and be the sole reason of their struggle (even though his mother is fully capable of working and providing for herself but simply refuses to). She is a woman of luxury and has never worked a day in her life but she is now hindering her sons life progress because of her laziness. Nonetheless, this is the reality.

    Like I say, he is deeply apologetic for the traumatic event. He says he wishes he had done things differently(this I believe) and wishes that he stood in the way of his families involvement (this I do not believe he would’ve been capable of doing).

    I say mistake because it was just this one off event that caused everything to fall through. Other than that, our relationship was seemingly perfect for two and a half years. This is why I am having a hard time moving on.

    I feel the deep rooted issues with my moving on around the trauma is something separate to my moving on from my relationship, although they are clearly linked to one another.

    I guess my question to myself and others who may have experienced betrayal like this is; Can you actually forgive the other person (the person that you love)? Can your relationship continue as normal? Will this person aid you in your healing because they are so deeply linked to the cause of the trauma or will they hinder it? At this moment in time, I have no clue what I am doing or which way to go.



    Dear Kkasxo:

    Having the limited information I have (reading thoroughly though), imagining I am in your shoes, I can see myself forgiving him because it was one event, not many, and because I will understand his motivation: loyalty to his mother (not betrayal of you). I have such a deep understanding of the power a parent has over her child, that yes, I will forgive him. And if he is a good man and the relationship I had with him was indeed so loving, I would consider a relationship with him… if he shifted his loyalty from his mother to me, his wife-to-be.

    I wouldn’t want to live in hostility, that is, exposed to hostility by his mother, wouldn’t want to live in conflict every time he chooses her well-being over my own. Wouldn’t want to see him neglecting our own children so to provide for her. I wouldn’t want to observe this sort of.. slavery, my husband enslaved to his mother.



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