Recovering from Complex PTSD has been a battle in the mind. In one sense of the word you could say I have been fighting to recover from emotional brain damage; pathways in my brain that have been altered by trauma. Fighting the shame beliefs I’ve lived out of for most of my life, fighting the hopelessness, fighting the blame and responsibility – like it’s all my fault. Fighting the tendencies toward isolation, condemnation from my family of origin, fighting the fear that there will never be hope for healing… It can all become extremely overwhelming.
I’ve learned my triggers and am able to watch myself now to see if I am “going down the rabbit hole” as I like to call it. When I am slipping down the rabbit hole – what do I have to ground me to reality? What do I have that is tangible, that I can point to, to know that God is physically with me, He has not abandoned me, nor is He mad at me, nor has He left me to “deal” on my own. What can I point to? I call this a “grounding” exercise… in holistic medicine “grounding” refers to connecting electrically to the Earth. Physiologically it connects our bodies to the energy of the Earth. Research is beginning to show that it reduces free radicals, cell damage, toxins, trauma, stress and has even improved sleep and chronic pain. In psychology “grounding” is a technique that helps reorient someone to the here and now. Helps to keep them in the present. This technique also combats the effects of trauma and stress while forming new pathways in the brain.
I started becoming hyper aware when my mind would begin to disassociate, “check-out” or become extremely overwhelmed. It was like I could see myself taking a step off the ledge and then I would watch myself spend the next week to 3 weeks just mentally spiraling out of control…aka the rabbit hole. The Bible calls this “a spirit of despair” or “a spirit of poverty” – in other words I become the embodiment of Proverbs 18:14
“The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?”
Oftentimes I will call on a friend to pull me down off the ledge and bring me back to reality, or go to therapy, or read a recovery book, or listen to a podcast. However, at the end of the day I must always come back to … “yes that’s true, but what does GOD SAY?” “What is He saying directly to me? And what has He said to me so far on this journey?”
I began to realize I needed things to which I could hold onto, to cling to and rehearse in my mind to remind me I am not alone and this pain is not hopeless. I needed grounding to reorient myself to the here and now, to remind myself that I was okay and that the sky wasn’t falling.
I first started with practical things like taking a walk with my dogs. That turned into taking a walk with my dogs and making lists. Lists of everything I was thankful for. Sometimes that list sounds like, “Lord, thank you that I have money to buy shampoo” “Lord thank you for giving me enough money to live one more month in my apartment” “Lord thank you that I drove safely to work today” “Lord, thank you that my physical body works and that I can walk and take care of myself” “Lord, thank you for protecting me and the dogs when we walk” “Lord thank you that I have a friend I will run with on Saturday” This list of thankfulness reflects my true reality, things that are current and ACTUAL in my life.
Another way I have begun to ground myself is to remind myself: “What does God say?” “What has he said to me?” His words have become an anchor to bring me back to reality and set my focus on something bigger, something more powerful. As Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”
The verse I read this morning has now officially become one of my verses to “ground” me back to reality. I am not alone. God doesn’t hate me. It’s not my fault. God is still with me. Lo and behold! Even the psalmist David had a grounding exercise! Turns out David and I had the same idea …
“I cried out, “I am slipping!”
But your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”
My dear sister, when you are feeling overwhelmed – going down the rabbit hole – Satan is spewing lies in your face- what do you do? What do you have that can “ground” you to reality? What type of grounding exercise can you walk yourself thru? What reminds you that you are not alone and God is walking you thru a journey of healing? What word from the Lord can you claim over and over that will renew your hope and cheer?
Read Psalm 94: 18-19 again and ask yourself: what is stirred in my spirit when I read this?
Even David had a “grounding” exercise. He called it God’s unfailing love and comfort …. sister, what’s Gods unfailing love and comfort to you today?