Rising Strong after Trauma

Last week, we talked about “the messy middle” of therapy and this week, we are going to talk about what happens after that. In therapy, it can be easy to focus on the negatives, the things that you want to get rid of: the flashbacks, the nightmares, unwanted leaps in anxiety levels, the self-blame. It can be difficult to figure out what life looks like after those things-how it might be possible to feel better, to get better.

“Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending-to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes, this is what happened. This is my truth and I will choose how this story ends” -Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Brené Brown is one of my favorite authors because she can put so eloquently into words what is so difficult to describe. In her book “Rising Strong,” she outlines the process that allows people move forward after facing difficult like experiences. She describes the process in three stages: the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution. It sounds pretty darn similar to Judith Herman’s three stages of trauma recovery: safety, remembrance and mourning, and reconnection. Whether you want to call this stage the revolution or reconnection, I think either capture of the feeling of hope that can arise in this third stage.

Sticking with the R theme, I also think of this third stage of therapy as reimagining. Experiencing difficult life events can lead to feelings of a foreshortened future or that things will never get better. This stage challenges those thoughts. Or, as Brené Brown says, “This is my truth and I will choose how this story ends.”

It is empowering and scary to get to this stage. It requires trying new skills or new ways of being in the world, but it can also lead to a greater happiness or a greater sense of fulfillment. My hope is that this stage means that you are able to face situations that previously caused you fear, anxiety or the urge to avoid and that you face these situations with a newfound sense of confidence and bravery. However, you get to decide how your story ends and what your truth means for you.

Therefore, it is hard for me to say more about this stage. It looks different for each person. There is hope. Revolution, reconnection, and reimagining are possible.