Trauma recovery is about searching for and utilizing your true power. Your true power is your core inner being; some refer to it as the soul, the spirit, God, a higher power, and other names. The power of admitting powerlessness, when that is the case, is that you can now move your attention and focus on the areas you do have control over. This releases the energy that was priorly invested in controlling the uncontrollable. Although letting go can be frightening, it is also the first liberating step in the quest for your real source of strength, integrity, and power. It is ultimately accepting yourself. Abigail describes her experience in relinquishing control as follows:
"As the eldest child of very strict and withholding parents, I learned that it is forbidden to have my needs met and to share my feelings. I felt terribly neglected on several levels as a child and I now learn how to look inside and ask myself, 'What do I really feel?' I started checking in with myself regularly to find out what my truth is and how I can fulfill my own needs."
This did not come easily for Abigail because she was very successful in her chosen profession, and simply didn't see the use of admitting she was powerless over anything. She certainly was not about to admit she is powerless over a very painful upbringing. It happened decades ago, felt too agonizing and threatening, so why bother? Through working this step, and with the support of her therapist and support group, she gained the insight to see that she was powerless as a child and adolescent and her parent's behavior had nothing to do with her. This insight came with a river of tears, but her heart began to open. She started gaining strength in her adult life and was able not to lose control or a sense of personal power when someone withholds their approval or affection.
"Approval has always been an issue with me," says Abigail. "So admitting that I'm powerless over the lack of approval and affection I did not receive as a child is the way for me to provide myself with the approval I am seeing outside of myself. I'm admitting that there's something in the past I did not have control over and that by trying to control the illusion, I kept myself enslaved to it. By trying to control the past and the present, I am going to lose even more than I already did as a child. What I am going to lose is my sanity, my peace of mind, my sense of stability. My reward continues to be being free from needing it. So it's well worth it."
For Abigail, the focus is on regaining true personal power instead of thinking of herself as a powerless woman. By looking inside and discovering the truth of one's limitations, you become a truth-seeker, gain an understanding of personal power, and learn to easily recognize situations where you are, and where you are not, in control. This will directly influence your ability to effectively manage your life and circumstances.
During my years of being in recovery, I witnessed some amazing transformations in people who have had the courage to face the truth in their stories. They start with powerlessness because they do not find it acceptable to be depressed or riddled with fear, and they are not satisfied with merely coping either. Trauma survivors want to claim joy as a way of life: they want to find the truth about themselves, the truth about the traumatic event(s) and express themselves with authenticity.
I'm fortunate enough to see trauma survivors become much more active by searching out answers and finding solutions to their hurts and painful memories. Being in recovery is exhilarating for me because I see firsthand the energy with which people work on recovering from their emotional pain. I see no "victim mentality" in their search for recovering memories and buried feelings, but an ongoing search for meaning, working through what had previously been discarded and making a worthwhile contribution to life.
A word about "unmanageability"
If you magically found yourself on the other side of the door you've kept locked by denial and found you no longer needed denial as a protective mechanism, what would you do? What joy might you find, what happiness might you feel, and what would you create with your life? With this exercise, you can allow yourself the space and freedom to recognize your un-cleansed wound and understand how it causes you to suffer. This also allows you to send your love and compassion to that wounded part of yourself; that part that struggled in silence for too long. By being responsive to it, in essence, you can turn the blood of the wound into gold. The self-help movement is going strong, and it's a time of significant change in the way we view and treat human suffering. For the first time, we believe that emotional pains have a spiritual solution. If you are still asking yourself "Why rock the boat for something that happened long ago, that doesn't really bother me?", you may gain some insight by answering these two questions: