Healing the Battle Wounds from Within. Autopilot?
I’ve heard many instances of reenactments of battles from the American Revolution–such as the Battle of Lexington–and Civil War, and have wondered why some people feel the necessity of replaying such terrible times and horrific events.
I understand the historical significance and the honor due to those who served to bring us freedom, which is why we celebrate Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, as we should, but reenactment often opens doors to past hurts and memories of grief that resurface and freeze time, making yesterday seem like today.
I used to replay the horrible incidents in my past over and over again in my mind. When I finally decided that I needed help to sort out this disjointed thinking, I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In other words, it became difficult for me to discern between present day events and past experiences.
Memories of the trauma riddled my mind influencing me to make erroneous decisions that eventually led me down a path of multiple addictions and relentless fear.
I was eventually put on a lot of medication to sedate the traumatic memories, but that was only masking the problem. I knew I needed to find a way to stop replaying the battles from the past and learn how to move forward, up and out of the realm of flashbacks that were holding me hostage.
This was a huge challenge for me. In fact, it was a harder task than the ongoing recollection of the past, but I knew with certainty it was my only way to freedom.
The first step I took was to make a definitive decision to be fully committed to my healing. I had to let go of many attachments, including victimization, and be willing to rise above that and move in the direction of victory.
Being true to my faith, I looked up scriptural text to support the idea that God wanted me to be free from these chains. To my joyful surprise, I discovered many citations supporting my hopes. Two in particular led me to many more.
Philippians 3:13-14: “13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV), I read: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
I needed more answers to questions that had been troubling me, such as, what happened to the good memories and why couldn’t I recall those anymore? So, the second step was for me was to gather information regarding how the brain works. I discovered that the information the brain retains is like computer programming. Whatever you input is filed as a command which always affects the program’s functionality.
What is necessary is reprogramming and debugging! Finding and eliminating the flaws and defects in thought in order for healthier ones take occupancy in the mind so that whatever happened yesterday does not occupy our thinking today.
I realize this is easier said than done, but remember you must be full committed to healing to be successful at this.
When we continue to challenge the emotional state that’s causing us depression, fear, anxiety, etc., and we challenge those faulty thoughts with useful, creative, and constructive ones, the result is newness. It’s like being in front of a blank canvas, and you, the artist, gets to create a new picture of your life and move forward to manifest it, which brings me to my third step.
Setting up reminders, writing, studying, memorizing and practicing affirmations, setting alarms on your phone, using totems, as well as having a support group or someone you are confident in who you can call when the challenge gets tough are all helpful.
One gentleman I was working with who suffered PTSD from seeing his mother frequently abused by his dad covered his bedroom walls with note paper on which he had written affirmations, as well as placing those notes in his drawers, closets, bathroom, and used other reminders as his screensavers. He inundated himself with reminders that joy is there for the taking, and with discipline and much persistence, implementing those ideas, he was completely healed of the trauma.
Many avenues are available in finding relief from grief, pain, and suffering, but like any other program, one must be dedicated to the work in order to heal.
Whatever the PTSD stems from, you do not have to accept it as your reality. You can change it! You can rise above it, but not if you continue to relive it and reenact it!
PTSD, trauma, stress, mental health
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