In Pursuit of Freedom – Beating Trauma
6 mins read

In Pursuit of Freedom – Beating Trauma

I’ve been struggling lately with what it means to be free. While we tend to put too much emphasis on those external steps, I know that freedom can only come from one thing. Freeing ourselves from dissociation is what makes us free. If we see things clearly and understand the truth about the people in our lives, good and bad, we can make the best decisions for our freedom. We don’t have to worry about what we don’t know. There’s a big problem with this plan. Most people don’t know they are dissociating. That’s the entire point. Dissociation is meant to defy our awareness. Another problem is we need safety to release our dissociative survival skills. When we don’t know what is unsafe because of our dissociation, it becomes very difficult to find safety.

While I logically recognize the way to freedom and I work hard to free myself every day, I am also watching my parts struggle with their own interpretations of freedom. I am retrieving memories of my failed attempts to find freedom in my young adulthood. I tried it all. I tried responsible approaches like doing well in school and graduating from high school and college with high marks. I am still proud of that because dissociation dramatically impacted my ability to focus. Not to mention, my mother was sabotaging my attempts every chance she could. I also tried to run. I got my driver’s license as soon as possible. I bought my first new car when I was only a sophomore in college. I worked jobs and socked away money as early as I could. I traveled. I studied abroad. I planned my escape with love interests (much less responsible), but no matter how hard I tried, I never really escaped her control or the pimps she hired to torture me. My external steps in my early adulthood never led to the freedom I was looking for.

The issue isn’t that I did these things. It was the intensity with which I did them. They were life or death to me. I felt that my independence was the only chance I had. My mother knew I felt that way, so she worked so hard to make everything incredibly difficult for me. I can see this playing out in my life today. I never thought raising two teenagers would be harder than raising two 3-year-olds. Maybe it isn’t, but I am struggling with the intensity of the anxiety I am experiencing as I watch my 17-year-olds take steps to launch themselves. My teens have led a substantially different life than I have. While they want to do things like college and work, they don’t have the urgency and intensity I felt. They aren’t trying to escape because they aren’t feeling unsafe. They are exploring their options and already seeing success. They are excited about those things, but they are not having panic attacks when obstacles show up.

I, on the other hand, am having panic attacks. These triggers are bringing up the old memories of my attempts to escape and the sabotage I faced from others. I am truly grateful that the memories are coming forward. I want the information. That said, I am having intense responses to normal high school challenges. My kids look at me like I have two heads because I am so invested in almost nothing. I will jump through the strangest of hoops. I take ridiculous steps to make things happen. I know my kids see my steps as supportive (although they will never admit it). It is support I never had and there is grief in that understanding. At the same time, I would rather not have a trauma response every time a recommendation letter doesn’t get sent on time or GPA is threatened by a bad test. The unconscious mantras of “you can’t escape” or “you’ll never be free” are clearly projected onto my children with every obstacle and it is exhausting. I am glad for my awareness, or it would be worse. I see other parents in a panic, and maybe they see it, but maybe they don’t. I just know I am ready for a bit more peace in my own life.

I am lucky. I know how to get there. It isn’t going to come from college acceptances and perfect SAT scores. We are taught to believe that our panic will end when the external circumstances end. Our controllers embrace this message and continue looking for the perfect life in the external world. I know better. I know if we don’t process those emotions, it just moves on to another problem, or the original problem never really resolves. I must listen to the parts who are still dying for freedom and the parts who say it is impossible. I need to release the need for freedom and detach the old flashback beliefs from the new situation. I have done this so many times. I have helped clients do this so many times. However, when we aren’t there yet, it can feel a million miles away.

I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep remembering horrible people and their actions. The moments of calm and peace around this launch will grow. One day, I will embody freedom in ways I never thought possible because it is possible. People have been attempting to control other people since human beings inhabited this Earth, but there is no foolproof way to rule another person. Our innate drive for freedom is too strong. When we bring the focus to our inner freedom and we put that first, we can finally find the peace we have always wanted.

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