Action 14

I need to share my emotions with someone I trust and tell them what I am going through. The recognition and disclosure of the nature of the traumatic event is fundamental to recovery. Talk about my war time experiences at a time when I think it is right to do so and with an understanding and sympathetic person (family member, friend, fellow soldier, battle buddy, Chaplain, counselor). I can decide how much I share and what to say.

Useful Information

Soldiers who had spoken about their experiences were less distressed than those who had not shared their combat experiences with a trusted person.

When individuals who had been abused in childhood were asked what was most helpful in dealing with the abuse and its aftermath, what were the turning points in their lives, they reported experiences with others where they felt genuine acceptance, felt loved and nurtured and had a sense of belonging and connection.

Individuals who do not share what they experienced and clam up and keep secrets have a much more difficult time adjusting. This does not mean that they have to re-experience or go into detail. They can use “broad brush strokes,” instead of going into “nitty gritty” details which works well in facilitating shifts in thinking and feeling. Some individuals do quite well without reliving and revisiting memories of what they experienced. The critical point is that it is a “sign of strength” to have the courage to share with supportive others at one’s own pace. Remember: what cannot be talked about cannot be put to rest.

Quotable Quotes

“Talking to others after the trauma is the mind’s way of healing itself.”

“I need to talk to someone who can listen attentively, in a nonjudgmental fashion, who can offer appropriate practical advice, and who can provide practical help when necessary.”

“Like hands shaping a piece of modeling clay, conversation transforms the meanings that we make of our experiences.”

“Through conversation, I gain new perspectives, correct misconceptions and find new insights and can focus on the positives.”

“I had to learn who I can confide in, what was appropriate to share and when to hold back.”

Action 15