Peer Support for Abuse Survivors
Dr. Laura Russell’s Column
No Matter What Happens
by Laura Russell, PhD
Storms are universal, and can be very destructive. They are strong forces of nature. Out of our control. Not our fault. Lightning, tornados, hurricanes do real damage to people’s lives. And they do not occur for any reason related to you. No matter how hard weather scientists have tried, storms remain essentially unpredictable.
So it is with all other painful life events:
Most people have some incorrect ideas about life’s events. I believe this comes from good intentions. Many outstanding therapists have presented in the media to help suffering people. We want everyone to know that it is absolutely wrong to abuse another person.
Somehow, however, their ideas have been misunderstood and misapplied. These beliefs branch off in different directions. All of which have the effect of limiting your life.
Particularly destructive is the false idea that a person cannot have a full and satisfying life due to what has happened to them. I walk a very fine line when I write and talk about this.
On one side of that line is the destructive belief that ‘it’ is your fault, whatever ‘it’ is. And on the other side of that line is the totally untrue belief that you are helpless to do anything at all about your current circumstances.
‘It’ is not your fault. Life happens to everyone. You cannot control what happens to you anymore than you can control the weather. No one lives without experiencing major problems. No one had a totally happy childhood. And no one has a totally happy, satisfying adulthood.
There is not one person who lives without personal flaws, idiosyncrasies, and just plain strangeness. These faults are not the reason for your painful life events. Painful life events are just that-life events.
Furthermore, today, in your present, you do not have to be a victim. If you learn what to do about your dilemmas, you are not helpless. There is much you can do today about your problems, faults, idiosyncrasies, and painful life events.
This is my main point. You cannot control life, other people, or your past. But you can choose to do something about your present living circumstances.
Regardless of the event, I tell every trauma survivor who comes to see me that they can use their experience to improve their life. At the beginning of his or her therapy, no one believes me. At the conclusion of therapy, we discuss how empowered he or she has become.
You can choose to take your personal power back. Instead of breaking, you can slowly face your painful life events, and grow. In this way, you give these awful events some positive meaning in your life. This is empowering. You take control of what has happened to you this way. And you end up with more personal power and more personal healing than you had before your painful life event.
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