FREED Life Counseling

Old Habits Die Hard

Trauma and chaos often go hand in hand. This is because trauma is constantly effecting mind and body, by interrupting daily thoughts, activities and behaviors. Natural disasters, moving frequently, divorce, being placed in foster care, addiction, mental health issues, medical issues, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse are all examples of situations that lead to chaos within individuals and the family system. Routines are difficult to keep when trauma occurs, if not non- existent. Crises take priority over activities of daily living. Personal space may be interfered with. Sleep is often disrupted and a constant flux in your body occurs when your fight, flight or freeze response is initiated repeatedly daily. When someone in the home has an addiction or there is an abuser in the home, life tends to revolve around the abuser or substance user, and this leads to total chaos. Any individual who is addicted to a substance or has addictive behaviors ( for example: gambling or sex addiction) is in a constant state of chaos related to obtaining what is needed to continue with addiction.

Recovering From Chaos

Chaos is addictive. It is a lifestyle. It is hard to live in peace after living in chaos for years. It is difficult for the mind to adjust to peace at first after the  trauma, addiction, or struggles with mental health have ended. It is hard to accept peace and be comfortable in peace. There can be a feeling that something bad will happen and the peace is not real. Or, boredom may set in with routine and no chaos. It is difficult at first for some people to be comfortable in peace and accept that things have really changed. Some people are drawn back into addiction, self sabotage or have a constant fear and worry that bad things will keep happening even when this is not the reality of the situation, which is called foreboding. I will cover self-sabatoge and foreboding in my next two blogs.

When I got sober I remember feeling like I was coming out of a tunnel. I had been feeling empty, alone, and dealing with abuse, self- hatred, panic attacks and nightmares. I had no idea how to live without chaos. I made friends through recovery groups and attended Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery. I went to church, spent time with new friends and did “normal” things like go to movies, parks, barbecues, and out to eat. I felt much better emotionally and had no desire to use any substancs again but I was not accustomed to living a life of peace.  I felt like someone totally different going through the motions of “normal” life. It took a long time to realize this wasn’t pretending to live- I actually was living.  I started to feel more comfortable in these settings and enjoy what I was doing, especially after limiting contact with people that tended to gravitate to chaos and were not healthy for me. I struggled with this at first, as those were the people I were used to and I knew how to operate in chaos, not peace. But, it took a long time. I did not know how to enjoy the moment and realized I had a hard time relaxing around others and being present. I tended to want to help people and was taken advantage of. The healthier I got emotionally the better I did with staying away from unhealthy people that brought unwanted chaos into my life.

I thank God for his mercy and grace in my life.  Even though my life is more peaceful, PTSD reactions can still lead me to a place of chaos emotionally at times, which is very common but totally uncomfortable.  Emotions flood and hypervigilance starts up, leading to difficulty remaining calm and rational. I’d like to say I manage it perfectly but I’m learning it’s impossible to perfectly manage emotions, no matter how much I try or how much knowledge I possess.  I just want to encourage you that this is NORMAL when experiencing PTSD and not shameful and does not mean you’re still living in chaos. It’s not a sign of moving backwards. We are all works in progress.

The Bible says that He ( God) who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6 NLT). This is so encouraging because it means the God of the entire universe, who is never in chaos and always in control, will not give up on you. If you allow Him to work in you He will continue throughout your life. This gives me so much hope because it means I’m never alone in this battle, and you aren’t either! You are so much more than your trauma and your symptoms and your fear and although they bring chaos into your life, they do not have to control your life, or even your day. You can continue to process, learn, grow, adjust, and believe there is always hope.

It is a daily choice to make small steps and enjoy more peace day by day, while eliminating chaos. It is amazing how our lives can change once we begin to transform our minds and connect thoughts and behaviors, in order to build new, healthier ways of life. I can honestly say that I hate chaos and am much better at shutting down chaotic emotions and emotional flooding quickly. This in itself is progress and a way to persevere and keep chaos to a minimum. I’d love to hear your opinion or experience on this topic  Contact me at with any questions, comments or prayer requests.

#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing

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