For Spiritual Seekers Who Feel Crippled by Trauma

What if the path to awakening is also the path to healing trauma?


A few years ago, I began suspecting that C-PTSD would be my path to spiritual awakening. It’s a counterintuitive idea, but over time I became convinced. I noticed a pattern over the years: I’d begin a new practice or a new spiritual program with a good teacher, but within a few months, trauma symptoms roared out: Anxiety and depression so bad I couldn’t focus on anything else. At times I couldn’t attend to anything but daily necessities and therapy.

Eventually, I discerned that this healing WAS my path. The spiritual work caused me to look within. If I wanted to grow spiritually, I had to come to terms with what I found there. Binary distinctions cutting the psychological from the spiritual have now overlapped to the point where, to me, they are virtually the same thing.

Over the decades, I’ve been through several rounds of trauma healing. Each one brought me to a plateau where life was good, I felt healed, and I thought I was “done.”

I fell hard off such a plateau recently.

Here’s the backstory. As a young child, I was sexually assaulted, but repressed the memory completely for twenty years…this kicked off my first round of healing. I was a lot younger than I am now. Fast forward: about a month ago, a full forty years after that memory dropped like a pebble into my conscious awareness, a new memory of the early abuse emerged in the middle of a very long and sleepless night. This is the only new memory to emerge in decades.

During that long night, I saw myself as a young child, sitting by my dolls. I had just been abused, and I made a survival decision that explains why I’ve never been able to explore my creativity fully. This decision also negatively affects how I handle some very close relationships to this day.

The push-pull timing of all this is astonishing. My latest happy plateau wasn’t just about being comfortable with my life. I was connected to the Divine as a baby is, contented at her mother’s breast. A series of chance events led me to caring people who teach safe ways of approaching ritual work and connection with my own loving ancestors. This Otherworld is one of color, form, and humanity, not only the shimmering, abstract non duality I had previously envisioned lay at the end of my spiritual trajectory. I began to develop a vision of how I might bring my story and my gifts to the world as a healer. For the first time in my life, I experienced being able to say “no” to anxiety, and it backed off like a phantom.

The mature part of me believes that the crash following this plateau came because I was ready for it. Because my vision for my future actually was real, and to do that work, I need to dig a little deeper. I am facing fears now that I used to assume were permanently part of me.

Now that the mature part of me has had her say…It’s amazing how quickly I felt like I’d fallen back to square one. The Chutes and Ladders board game was originally called Snakes and Ladders, a more fitting title here. Instead of evil tempters, though, the snakes function as truth tellers — letting me know when it’s time to begin the healing process anew, from a different vantage point. The game analogy breaks down, though, because there’s no winning or losing here. There is only opening to Love, even through fear.

That said, the experience is a kind of death — lack of sleep, anxiety, stuggling not to isolate, the whole thing. There are significant differences, though, and these give me hope. I can feel how deep into my energetic root this healing reaches. I’m not fused to anxiety in the way I used to be. Somehow even at the worst moments, there’s more space in my system. I sense and communicate with my Higher Power as well as guides-in-spirit.

I have navigated the terrain of trauma healing before. Even though it doesn’t feel like it, I cannot deny that a beautiful dimension of freedom is calling me. I’m aware in a deeper way that this calling comes from the Divine, or Source Consciousness.

How long this phase will last, I have no idea. Who I will be in several months’ time, I also don’t know. For now, trusting the process is the process. I have a history of prior healing to rely on.

But…Why, I shout, does it take so long to heal?

Healing Trauma Takes Time Because We Need Time

This isn’t emphasized enough. Healing from trauma is taxing on the nervous system. Unhealed trauma is exhausting in different ways — denied, it becomes illness, addiction, mistreatment of others aand oneself. All of which are a poor alternative to healing, but healing demands a lot of me. Rigorous honesty, for one. Willingness to undergo uncertainty and feel my deepest fears…From a physical standpoint, my body needs a decades-long process for my system to assimilate such big changes. If all the healing I’ve experienced so far were packed into a two-week span, I would probably spontaneously combust. I might become some kind of ethereal being. But I have work to do here.

Leave a comment if you want to add a thing about your own healing journey. We stand together!