We have stuff we have to deal with, even if everything looks “perfect” on the surface. But what happens when we can’t pretend that everything is all right anymore? Is true healing possible? In this podcast (episode #245) and blog, I speak with NY Times best-selling author, ICU trauma nurse and vice president of Amen Clinics Tana Amen about how she overcame abuse, cancer and an eating disorder, finding the courage to face your past and find true healing, how to help others recover from trauma, and so much more!
In her new book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, Tana shares her incredible story: how she grew up in chaotic home, suffered sexual abuse and trauma, developed an eating disorder in order to cope with her past, got diagnosed with cancer and went through treatment, and came through it all with relentless courage and resilience. She now tells others her story to give people hope and show them that, although it takes time and a lot of hard work, healing is possible.
But can this be your story too? Perhaps you don’t even know you have a story to tell yet. As Tana points out, when you grow up with chaos and trauma, you are not always consciously aware of how it has become your “normal”. It is all you know.
Indeed, as humans we tend to minimize what we have been through to cope and survive. This is one of the signs of a resilient person, although it will have repercussions in our life, both mentally and physically.
“Fake it till you make it” is a coping mechanism we often use to hide our trauma. If people don’t see how much we are hurting inside, then we think that they won’t ask too many questions and they cannot hurt us. But just because someone’s life looks “perfect”, it doesn’t mean that they are not going through something difficult or struggling with a mental health issue!
In many cases, we also blame ourselves when something traumatic happens to us. What did we do wrong? Did we send the wrong signals? Did we say or do something? The important thing to remember is that it is NOT your fault. Don’t blame yourself. No matter what you did or said, you are never responsible for someone else’s choice to do harm.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, one of the best things you can do is give yourself or the person you love time. When you grow up with trauma and abuse, it will take a while to feel any semblance of “wholeness” — to truly start healing. Healing and progress is not a straight line. If things go well, and then not so well, don’t lose hope. There is no one blueprint for recovery. Often, progress is a jagged, messy “climb”.
In fact, as Tana notes, it is when we struggle and go through the down times that we can learn the most, if we are willing to stop and embrace the mess! When we begin to take ownership of how our past will impact our present and future, then we can start to find true, lasting healing. We begin to realize that we are not more beautiful in spite of our breaks, cracks and imperfections, but because of them.
For more on Tana’s incredible healing journey, and how you too can heal trauma or help a loved one who is battling with their past, listen to my podcast (episode #245) and check out Tana’s book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!)
1:49 Tana’s amazing new book, Relentless Courage
4:30 Why we often minimize or hide our pain to survive
6:33 Healing trauma takes time and effort
7:51 Why there is power in telling your story
9:52 What happened to Tana and how she overcame sexual abuse, trauma, an eating disorder and cancer
17:00 Why you never know if someone is struggling or what they are going through, even when their life looks “perfect”
28:45 When we struggle, we often learn and grow the most
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