How can one deal with a traumaversary (i.e 1 year after a rape) ?
Last Updated: 06/12/2018 at 5:00pm
Deane Rain Marie, LMFT
Marriage & Family Therapist
I take a holistic approach in working with eating disorders, mood disorders, relationships, and the LGBTQ community. I use EMDR, Dreamwork, Stories, CBT and Cinema therapy.
Top Rated Answers
To me there are two ways of handling it, you can surround yourself with friends or family so you do not feel alone, or you can plan a day off by yourself doing somethng that you love to keep your mind off of it.
I have personal experience with this issue. As people, we tend to keep anniversaries of things that had a strong effect on our life, whether it is good or bad. We tend to be sentimental, and even glamorize the idea of keeping track of something traumatizing. While it is healthy to acknowledge the bad things in our life, lingering on them in an anniversarial context could be harmful. Remind yourself that you are so much stronger since it happened, and spend the day with people close to you so you can avoid triggering. In these difficult times, it is good to have someone to rely on to look out for you.
Forgive who ever did this to you, and let it go. Not saying let go of what happened but the thoughts harbored behind it. Also, don't name it a traumaversary, because that is giving it importance that it should never have. Use this encounter to help someone else.
Personally I'd consider having another event on that day - huge party with friends, spa trip, etc - just so there is also a pleasant memory associated with that day. Maybe do the same thing each year so there's something better to associate with that day.
Each one of my traumaversaries gets handled a little differently. Sometimes, I prefer to surround myself with people and things that make me happy and stay really active (not exercise, just... busy) to keep myself from getting too lost in my head. I'll pre-plan a schedule of things to do a few days before and a few days after and make sure I take really good care of myself during that time; depending how hard it hits, showering/eating/getting out of bed in general can be a battle. Honoring the "little things" can make getting through it so much easer. On the flip side, sometimes I prefer to lock myself up in my room and check out of the human experience for a while. If I can handle it, being reflective and sort of grieving what I lost/my experiences and giving myself that time to feel those crappy feelings can be so cathartic and more helpful then being constantly on the go and avoiding them. If it's possible, having a friend or family member check in with you on that day or the surrounding days may be helpful. Just a, "Hey, you doing okay?" type thing in case you check out too much and neglect to take care of yourself (which sometimes happens, and that's okay). Some people I know like to watch silly, lighthearted movies, bake comfort foods, go for extra runs, get a pedicure, write letters, get tattoos, etc. It all depends on what'll make you feel the best. Some people take the day to "celebrate" their resiliency. Some people take the day to "grieve" their losses. Some people have a mixture of both. All of those options are fine. Hang in there and best of luck. You are NOT alone!
Definately a celebration. Cry if you must. But remeber to dance. Remember that you made it. Have a girls night.. talk to someone, preferably a proffesional about how you feel. AND CELEBRATE
I like to celebrate all the ways my life has improved since, and reflect on how far I've come. I have envelopes full of everything good that has happened since and I like to reread them all on traumaversaries to remind myself how strong I've become.
Acknowledge it, own it and celebrate that in that year time you grew stronger as a person and did survive and you know you can keep fighting to survive and help others,
Be prepared for it. Know that it may bring things up for you and get yourself ready with Appropriate supports. It gets easier as time goes on, because we learn how to deal with the feelings and what to expect. Be kind to yourself and let yourself have the day to feel whatever you feel.
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