Trauma, Healing and Imagination: How To See Your Future Self
By Michele Rosenthal
This week on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA we’re tackling a very important topic: How to connect to (as my guest Deb Scott calls it) the Amazing You. Do you feel you’re living from that space in yourself? For the longest time I didn’t either!
After trauma we can live so much in the past we can’t even imagine the future, or who we are beyond our role of survivor. In my trauma recovery memoir I write about it this way:
One afternoon my therapist asks, “How do you see yourself outside of your trauma?”
“You mean, who am I if not a survivor?”
“Yes. Describe yourself as if trauma is not something you experienced.”
“I can’t do it.”
My therapist and I sit in silence. I try to make a picture in my head of what I would look like if my trauma had not occurred.
All I see is a blank white canvas. There is nothing, not even a small, modernistic black dot in the midst of all the white. Not even a starting point from which to sketch an identity without pain, fear, and suffering.
“I can’t do it,” I say. “I can’t see myself at all.”
“You’re in a new place. You’re starting a new life. Perhaps now would be a good time to try.”
I had to really work to hone the skill of being able to see myself beyond and in spite of my trauma. Whew, it was tough work and it’s never too early to begin developing that skill!
Deb Scott and I will talk about all of this and more on tomorrow’s show at 2pm EST (you can check out the archive here on Thursday).
In the meantime, today strive for clarity in imagining your future self. You know, the self that’s the reason you’re trying so hard to find a way out of the post-trauma maze. That future self exists. Part of meeting it means being able to envision it. If you could describe your perfect self, who would that be?