Do we ever fully heal from trauma?

It’s been 17 years since I experienced a traumatic event that changed the way I viewed myself and the world. It took 15 years for me to fully heal from that experience… but am I truly, fully healed? Of course, I won’t know for sure until I’ve lived the rest of my life, so for now, I’m just pondering this concept.

When I was 7, I was bit in the face by a dog. He broke my jaw and I spent a week in the hospital and 6 weeks with my jaw wired shut. To me, that was severe trauma. I didn’t look the same, I was treated differently by everyone I knew, and I lost a best friend because of it (the dog belonged to my best friend’s family). I could go on and on about the effects of this trauma on my self-confidence, my perspective on dogs, and my relationships with friends… but I’m not going to. It’s nothing I want to hide, in fact I’m open about it with anyone I talk to, it would just turn into a novel rather than a blog post.

Boldly brazening my crooked smile and uneven eyes 🙂

Talking about my trauma was one thing that helped me work through it. Once I gained my confidence back (in college) and believed I was beautiful even with all the scars and nerve damage I have, it was much easier to begin my forgiveness practice. Forgiveness came in all forms. Forgiveness of my former best friend for turning against me, forgiveness of myself for staying so hidden from reality and bottling up all my feelings, forgiveness of my parents for not pushing harder for me to go to therapy (I truly didn’t want to go when I was a kid, but I now realize it could’ve been very beneficial), and finally, forgiveness of the dog who bit me. THAT is where the big time healing happened and it happened during a Reiki energy healing session on the day that marked 15 years since the accident. Once I forgave the dog for what had happened and once I viewed him as innocent and gentle again, I felt that I could finally fully move on and be free from the residual trauma that had stayed inside me.

The one thing that makes me ask the question, “Do we ever fully heal from trauma?” is an experience I had at the dentist about a year or so ago. The pain and discomfort I felt from getting my teeth cleaned triggered something inside me that made me start crying… while my dental hygienist’s hands were still in my mouth. She handled my emotions beautifully, with care, while I explained that I had experienced immense trauma to my mouth and jaw (side note: I also had braces and a root canal… which were added layer of trauma added to that area). The next time I returned to get my teeth cleaned, she was much more gentle.

Was that another moment of emotional release I needed in order to move on from my trauma or was it a reminder that I am not done healing? I suppose as time goes on, I will figure it out.

So, as a parting reminder… it’s important to keep in mind that we won’t ever know the depths of trauma that others go through, how they need to heal, and if they are fully healed or not. Trauma is different for everyone and I believe that an experience is only traumatic if the person who has experienced it assigns that meaning to it. The best thing we can do for someone who has experienced trauma is to non-judgmentally listen when they decide to share and to always support them.

What do you think? Do we ever fully heal from trauma?

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