Eight Criteria For Telling Your Story
- Be Ready. Make sure you feel certain this is the right time in your recovery to do this.
- Be Resourced. Be at a place where you have learned some skills to handle getting triggered, or be with a therapist who can lead you through finding your inner resources.
- Have absolute, embodied certainty of safety. Decide on what is a safe context to do this. Make sure you feel internally safe in the chosen context. Make sure you have already built inside yourself, in your body, a way to monitor and defend your own safety. Have the ability to speak with any and all parts of yourself that do not feel safe first in order to help them feel safe, and only then proceed. Have the ability to stop everything the minute you sense you feel unsafe.
- Make sure you are focused on your own needs. If the context is safe enough, you can be self-centered and listen to what exactly it is YOU need out of this. If something is repressed within your system (energy, emotion, action, vocalization), you should have the safety and freedom to express it. Make sure you are not doing this for anyone else. Nobody needs to know your story for any reason. (Of course this is different if you are involved in legal proceedings which is a whole different topic on how to tell your story when you’re being forced to.)
- Totally understand the experience of titration inside your body. Make sure you have had the internal experience of titration enough to know when you have gone too far. Figure out how to tell if this activity of telling your story will help integration of the past event, and make certain that is what you are doing – integrating. Know how to avoid getting triggered or getting caught up in the drama for drama’s sake.
- Trust your body. Work with your body. The idea of slow integration respects the integrity of the way the body has decided to store the traumatic memories and respects the body’s reasons for doing so. The idea is to trust the body and brain to be on your side. There is no reason to “bio-hack” one’s own physiology. There is no hurry.
- Have an “OK” level of brain organization. Make sure your brain has reached a level of organization so that it won’t just go into chaos and dissociate if you talk about what happened. You will know this because it’s like you aren’t drowning anymore when you reach this level of organization. Instead you are able to think clearly and rationally. There is a distinct shift. But because for many years you can go up and down, just make sure you have shifted into mental organization and use of the higher, rational mind for most of the time for at least a six month period, I would say. (I’m not there yet, I go up one week and down the next, but SE therapy is helping)
- Find your creativity. And – If you aren’t mentally organized enough yet to literally talk to someone about your trauma story, Creative Expression, such as journaling, creative writing, poetry, music, film making, art and dance (done in a safe environment or context, one that you truly feel OK with) also makes it safe to tell your story (and is incredibly therapeutic) and I will explore that in another post.