TIME-TESTED POST-TRAUMA RECOVERY PROTOCOL: For those affected by the massacre at the movie theatre: Here is how to take care of yourself.

I just saw a young soul, a beefy black man, on local network tv who was in the theatre and was trying to explain what had happened, and was shaking like a leaf, saying he had already called the help line set up for victims and survivors and they told him his symptoms were “normal” and it would take about a week to ‘get over’ those. If that’s really what he was told, he ought to have been offered far more information about self care and recovery. A week after witnessing a slaughter, is not long enough, and certainly with not enough information about self-care.

I wrote one of the top three protocols for post trauma recovery, used around the world with persons who have suffered though disasters, and recently taught the protocol to citizen volunteers two days ago who are suvivors of the fires in Colorado. First and foremost, the man who was shaking should go be with people and not be alone. It was hard to watch the female newcaster on site, not even reach out to place a hand on his arm. Human contact is part of immediate re-centering of people who have been traumatized. I hope in the future broadcasters are trained in what to do when they come upon a traumatized person, not thinking just because the person can still talk they are not injured. Each person’s reaction is highly customized, but one reaction is to not be able to stop talking and feeling so much anxiety from trauma, they cannot take rest

I apologize that the recovery items in the protocol are about halfway down. I’m rushing to put this up as it is printed in handouts for citizen healers/helpers after devastation.
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POST TRAUMA RECOVERY PROTOCOL by Dr. CP Estés
Biography
I’m a Psychoanalyst and Specialist in Critical Incident and Post Trauma Recovery, who developed psychological recovery protocol for the Armenian earthquake rescue; served at Columbine High School and community for 3 years after the massacre; and worked with 9-11 survivor families on both US coasts. I’ve enclosed here for you, the complete protocol in letter form that I developed and have used to train therapists and citizen-helpers so they can help themselves and help others with post-trauma recovery at disaster sites. This letter is addressed to the inner circle of citizens, victims, survivors, eye-witnesses, their families, workers, helpers, rescuers, and other affected persons. This letter offers what I have found, now in my 42 years of clinical practice, to be useful, effective, and time-tested steps for recovery from trauma.
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D./ Dr. E.
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Dear Brave Souls:

Recovery & Normal Reactions to
Sudden Shock, Emergency, Loss, Injury, and Catastrophe

Each person, depending on their innate physical and emotional constitution, their time of life, their day to day challenges of life, their prior traumas and luchas, is affected differently by sudden shocks and catastrophic events.

Symptoms arising from shock may differ from person to person also. Yet all will make progress in healing and rowing toward wholeness again… often with new hard-won wisdom, and with scar tissue yes, and also often with a heart broken open… a focused desire to help the needful world in ongoing or in new ways.

Thus, over a period of time, if you of ‘the inner circle,’ that is, if you are an eye-witness, a helper, a first responder, a victim, a survivor, a person who lost a loved one, or lost cherished creatures, or had a loved one in the path of danger, or seriously injured … if you have been suddenly hit hard by tragedy or by fear and shock and heartache for the world as you once knew it… if you are military, a fire fighter, health worker, helping-professional, in law enforcement, a rescue worker, citizen rescuer, news gatherer, photographer, or connect to the tragedy in other close-in relationships such as helping in distributions of essentials, friend-to-friend, neighbor, relative, pastor, spiritual advisor… you may find yourself having one or more of the following reactions.

(These are normal reactions to sudden shock relating to life and death events, to sudden twists of fate. When one has been involved in a critical incident, one’s body, one’s consciousness and heart (and many believe, too, the spirit and the soul) are shocked as well. This is because it is shocking to see in full consciousness, in a split second, how close death always is to us, and how suddenly it erupted into our world visibly, palpably, and how fast, how loudly, but sometimes so quietly… This witness to the nearness of death and destruction is arresting to any human being with a heart and spirit.)

NORMAL AND COMMON REACTIONS
Physical Reactions:

• Sleep disturbances including inability to sleep
• Lethargy may come from sleeping too much, eating allergenic foods
• Exhaustion, fatigue, nagging sense of dread once the crises are past
• Changes in appetite, digestive disturbances
• Feeling numb
• Crying, sometimes without necessarily knowing why
• Desire to comfort and be comforted physically
• Nightmares, night terrors
• Loss of memory
• Trembling, inner and/or outer
• Nausea
• Heart arrhythmia
• Pain in heart, not an organic disorder, but caused by
• sorrow
• Aching bones, not an organic disorder but rather,
• caused by sorrow
• Headache, pre-migraine syndrome; migraine
• Possible augmenting of symptoms of diabetes, prior stress conditions, sciatica, asthma
• Regression in children to a previously mastered stage of development

Behavioral Reactions:
• Hyperactivity
• Poor concentration
• Refusing to talk
• Wanting to go away, or hide
• Talking ‘out of one’s mind’
• Startle reactions while awake or asleep
• Isolating, wanting to be alone.
• Wanting to just sit, or just stare
• Trying to help in any way one can, to the point of
• exhaustion;
• Not wanting to leave the scene for aid or safety
• Hyper-vigilance, watching, listening, being unable to be at rest

Psychological Reactions:
• Loss of sense of time
• Feeling distraught and helpless
• Feeling that things are not real, as though in a dream
• Inability to recall sequences or retrace all of one’s steps precisely
• Feeling the future has been lost forever
• Desire to comfort and be comforted psychologically
• Feeling one should not cry
• Wanting to scream, or screaming-weeping
• Inability to attach importance to anything but this event
• Flashbacks
• Nightmares

• Intrusive thoughts that cause anxiety
• Over-reactions to mild to moderate irritations
• Recurrent dreams
• Horrified Anger
• Broken Heart

• Insecurity about the future
• Feelings of fear, warranted and unwarranted
• Feelings of guilt
• Feeling one cannot stop crying
• Unusual reserve, acting as though nothing much really occurred
• Blaming others, individuals, groups: there may be passionate outbursts
• Marked frustration with how long everything takes
• Marked frustration with rescue workers, the bureaucracy, anyone who tries to help

• Marked frustration with any who break promises to help, or who are perceived to not be telling all the truth, or who are perceived to be withholding critical information, or giving misinformation or not telling all they know, or who are giving out platitudes or being condescending

• Ongoing violent fantasies
• Rolling episodes of anxiety
• Mild to profound depression
• Amnesia
• Thinking no one can ever understand, no one can ever help.
• Keeping secrets about what one might have known beforehand
• Blaming oneself.
• Deep dread about hearing any more terrible news.
• Aversion to films, movies, radio, television, anything that depicts catastrophe.
• Irritability that others go on with life while one is still suffering
• Negative judgments about others’ activities or interests that seem disrespectful

Spiritual Reactions:
• Desire to comfort and be comforted spiritually
• Questioning one’s beliefs
• Not wanting to hear any spiritual counsel
• Wanting very much to hear spiritual counsel
• On/off/on/ off process
• Feeling the celestial beings/ greater Power/Creator/God, the true self have abandoned everyone
• Feeling the celestial beings/ greater Power/Creator/God, the true self are ever near
• Praying non-stop, for self, for others, for everyone

The Descent into, and The Ascent out of Trauma:

These are normal reactions, though they can be painful. Thankfully, no one has all of them, and some, such as ‘more prayer than usual’ can be helpful to many. Going through these shock symptoms, trying to pinpoint each or some, and finding one’s own ways of easing these, putting first things first – health, safety, attitude – these are all part of the direct healing process.

No one can instantly cleanse these thoughts and feelings away, though I wish we could, for I know they can tear at heart, consciousness, and spirit and can make people feel half-dead or in continual dread.

But as time passes, many of these will pass too. Especially if we hold to right understanding, right action, right thought. The most important is to know what to do for oneself to help the natural process of mending up after twists of fate that affect us so deeply. Many years ago our first born grandson died suddenly. We made the slow painful walk back from the land of the dead. It took much time. A succinct truth about coming back after such trauma, came from my dear daughter: We never overcome profound loss: We learn to live with it. And this will assuredly be so for you also. You will find your way to live fully again with this time in background, not foreground. The day will come. And you will see, month by month, this will occur.

For some persons, after tragedy, they know immediately what they think and feel. For others who are be-numbed, they may not know where and how they stand with the events and with themselves and with others for quite some time afterward. This is alright. New life will come. Being thoughtful and watchful of one’s own processes daily is a good endeavor.

If you can’t recall the qualities, paths and sanctities most useful, ask trusted others to help you take daily steps to help yourself as needed. Just like a new garden, take one thoughtful step after the other. Assess, spade, seed, water, light, weed, tenderly, thoughtfully tend to… then one day comes the flowering and the fruits.

For those close in to the disaster, the tragedy, the numbness you feel comes from parts of your self protecting you, softening for a time, the profound overwhelm of all that has occurred, allowing you to at least go through many of the mundane motions of day to day life. For the first days after such enormous shocks, it may almost feel as though time has stopped. That all is surreal. The efforts to comb hair, shave, organize may be dulled.

You may feel as though you are no longer here. As though maybe you are dead or deadened. This is because abject fear, horror, and/or tragedy throw us into a process and locks us in for a time – yet, our balancing pathways through difficulties did not die. We can find them and follow them again.

For most who have been suddenly beset by deep fear, and/or suddenly lost a beloved person, an animal companion, or a homeplace, or all these… ‘descent’ is not too strong a word for the process afterward. To many, it feels like a big iron gate has closed behind them and that life will never be the same again.
And yet, please also be assured there is an indirect healing process taking place inside you at the same time… time passing is one indirect healing partner. As time goes on, there is also blessing news… and that is, that fear and horror and grief are wheels that turn, having a beginning, a middle and not exactly an end, but a release from that trapped place behind ‘the iron gate’ where you may have felt burdened off and on, or relentlessly.

Eventually the sense of helplessness, fatigue, guardedness, hyper-vigilance, sorrow, blaming oneself and/or ‘not knowing’ dwindles and eases. You will daily live and laugh and love life again, more and more … it will happen. Not right this moment. But it will come.

• As time goes on, less and less will you be dragged backward in time to very briefly, but deeply, feel fearful or grieve anew. Those times will occur with longer and longer spans of time in between. Each episode of ‘sudden remembering’ will be intense, but last for shorter and shorter periods of time. Again, for most of us, we do not ‘get over’ life and death heart-wrenching events. We learn to live with them. We learn to live with the aftermath of memories of bad shocks and irretrievable losses. We learn to live with changes and losses that feel they took meaning of our lives away from us for a time, or that took our spirits from us and our desire to live life as well.

But, for all souls, like the force of energy at the base of a plant that continues to shine underground even during drought, something in us also is ever sending out strong impulses for us to live again… and well. No matter how weak we feel in the moment, this rhizome of the true self will help us see meaning– and new calling in life sometimes too– as we gradually climb back up to our own vital and vibrant lives in every way. It will come. Like the garden after winter, life comes back again.

AFTER THE FIRE

“New seed
is faithful.
It roots deepest
in the places
that are
most empty”

Excerpted from The Faithful Gardener, A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die,
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, HarperCollins, ©1995

ACTIONS TO TAKE FOR RECOVERY
Please take up all, or any of the following ways to add to those ways you already know, in order to help yourself. Please know too, that many many strangers, as well as those close to you, are focusing in this very moment in order to support you over the miles, saying strong and ongoing fresh prayers for your hearts and spirits and true self to find their ways and to be made whole again. I am but one of those multitudes who prays strong prayers for you.

1. Exercise and relax to release accumulated stresses ... Within the first days or as soon as one can, and continuing, do strenuous exercise alternating with relaxation. Continue to move daily thereafter. This will alleviate some of the physical reactions, and give your body a way to discharge additional physical and emotional reactions as they accumulate in the coming days. This is a generosity to the body.

Keep moving, order will return ... Keep busy, do not sit and do nothing. Feeling displaced, angry, sad, orphaned, and bewildered are normal reactions. Do not tell yourself that you have lost your mind. You haven’t. But it is as though a huge wind has blown through upsetting all previous order. Order will return. A new order. An order for your life that you decide as you decide it, in your own best determinations.

2 Talk to people rather than toughing it out … Talk to people — talk is one of the most healing things you can do. Tell your story as you see it. Although some have learned to keep their most precious thoughts and feelings to themselves, they may not realize that by talking some, or a good deal now, they also give others permission to talk out their thoughts and feelings too… and thus to go that much farther inhaling. To talk, encourages others to talk. Though each has their own ways of dealing with trauma, and no one ought be forced to speak until or unless they wish to, we find that expression of one’s thoughts and feelings about trauma often go farther to release its after-effects, than trying to tough it out. Any kind of talk now has, as its aim, equanimity.

3 Paint, tell, journal, draw your story into the real world … This may be the first time some persons will receive encouragement to speak. Some will be brief, that’s alright. It doesn’t matter whether one’s talk is broken or cohesive… telling one’s own story insofar as one wishes, is what matters. People who have been deeply hurt, may tell their stories over and over again, many times before they lose their massive charge of pain. They may tell it in voice, or in poetry, in drawing, songs, music, theatre, painting, and other expressive means and then sharing these with trusted others. Making art is a form of virtue.

4 Ways to listen and hold others … Don’t push yourself, but if you can, listen to others’ stories; if you can, reach out for those who are poor in resource, poor in spirit, poor in security, for sometimes giving comfort, words of encouragement, is away to help healing of both teller and listener as well. There are many ways to listen, including being silent together, including a hand on an arm, an arm around a shoulder, sharing around cups of tea, an embrace while the other person just leans in quietly, or weeps. This is the quality of loving kindness.

5 Soft eyes, knowing nods ... There are too, those inimitable words that the soul understands perfectly, which are not said with voice, but with nods of the head and with the eyes; gentle understanding eyes. Sometimes soft looks and soft voice are the greatest qualities of wisdom.

6 The spirit is a sacred temple, protect it … Don’t allow anyone to push you or others by insisting, “It’s over now, we must move on.” You will move on. But in your own timing. In grief and great change, one’s consciousness has entered a sacred place, one of deep learning and transformative process. The news media cycle is not your healing cycle. It’s best to protect the traumatized psyche from any intrusive media whether in person or on radio/tv which may accidentally overwhelm your spiritual needs for privacy in groups and as individuals, because of media’s need to ‘feed the maw of the news cycle.’

7 Rely on compassionate and patient counsel … Neither is your drummer anyone who is not well developed psychologically or spiritually themselves, nor those who become understandably fatigued with the, for now, ongoing cycle of anxiety and/or grief. Rely instead on compassionate and patient counsel. Forbearance and remaining private regarding those who seem intrusive, is one of the best attitudes.

8 Wounded yet living, and healing … Also, listen to yourself and to wise others who have come through ‘a great something’ themselves, and mostly recovered or are making definitive progress. It is a paradox and an issue of compassion for self and others: To tend to what is wounded til healed ‘well-enough’, while going on with new life as well. Yes, ‘life goes on,’ as some will say, but the emphasis should be on Life! not on hurrying. A wound to the spirit is like a wound to the body. It takes time to heal from the bottom layers upward.

9 You are not alone, seek ‘those who know’ … Feelings of loneliness and deep feelings of worry, or longing toward loved ones injured, or now gone, or a way of life gone for now, can be partially mediated by being with those who understand from the ground up, that is, other people who have walked the path similar to the one you are walking now. Though it can seem like this never happened to anyone else and you and those with you are alone, there are others in the world, in your village, on the internet, within certain groups who know exactly what you are experiencing, and they can be of great comfort. Seek them and take what they offer in goodness. It is there for you. In this way, we allow others the honor of loving kindness.

10 Symbolic acts, ritual, memorializing, blessings … Each time you tell your story partly, or fully, each time you create a symbolic act, a ritual, note the best of what once was, memorialized now, each thoughtful new barrier set to help prevent ever again what twist of fate or tragedy occurred in your world insofar as you can, each time you think back to the disaster in order to analyze and learn something valuable, each time you receive someone’s caring, each time you reach to comfort others, to bless and be blessed by others, you will be healing yourself. And others. This is the quality of mindful effort.

11 Life lessons from a tragedy … Try not to cover up your feelings by withdrawing or by using alcohol or drugs. Talk your feelings out. As many times as you need to. There is no shame or selfishness in this. You have been through alot. Sometimes after a sudden shock or tragedy, some are inclined to try to self-medicate with whatever is close at hand. But this is not a time of negating feeling. One’s striving for consciousness is stronger than most realize. This time, despite the horror that began it, will be a time that will bring much to you, much that will be useful for the rest of your life. For many, it will be a time of complete maturing in unforeseen and good ways. We cannot make tragic or profane events go away, but I tell you, we can make our actions regarding them, holy.

12 Reach out with care and kindness … Reach out to others for help. They really do care. Be good to yourself and let others be good to you too. Often, the most healing comes from just allowing others to bless your life anew, and you theirs. I tell the people I meet with– who have suffered great tragedies, but who often ask what they can do to help others. I tell them, ‘be kind.’ People who suffer greatly will most often forget all the “expert” words or techniques that anyone ever said during these first days and weeks, but what will remain forever engraved in memory, are the kindnesses others offered during those first few days and weeks and afterward. Kindness somehow seems recorded by the body internally and externally, by the consciousness, the heart, and the spirit, the soul, in ‘sense memory’: Every part of the human being registers kindness.

13 Solitude, reflection, and socializing … Spend time with others. These may be times of reflection and solitude. But, do not isolate yourself. You may also find yourself laughing sometimes, even as you grieve. That is not the potter’s wheel screeching; this is the potter’s wheel being glad to be alive and useful again. It is alright. True mirth is a healing virtue.

14 Reach out to others, too … Ask other people how they are doing. Remember they may be shy to tell a stranger, or even a friend or relative, of their burden unless they are asked, and often. Respect boundaries, but also a soul may need to be asked more than once in order to gain more of an answer than just ‘Fine,’ when in fact, they are somewhat — to a lot— less than fine. My rule, as with raising children, is ask three times, and likely each answer will be more in depth… and then pressures can be released to the good.

15 Rest and take care of … People can become fatigued from this business of remembering and grieving. Grieving is hard work, and as numbness wears off and the mind delivers back images and impressions of the original traumatic event, it can burn up much energy. Rest, take good care of your body. Feed it as decent food as you can. Soothe and energize your body in ways you have always known work for you in ways that add to your life rather than take from your life.

16 Give yourself “time off” from trauma … It’s alright to take time out. It is not negligent to not want to listen anymore. It is alright not to read newspapers or watch the news. It’s alright to never again go to a film that is about shock or loss, in order not to stir up what is now healing or healed. It is fine to protect the wound, even when ‘well enough’ healed, for now, for a while, or forever. Everyone reaches capacity in the grieving process, in recovering from great shocks. Pay attention to what your body and consciousness, heart, soul, and spirit need, and secure it for them.

17 Healing from shock is not a straight line .. Healing from shock is not a straight line, it is a zig-zag line, sometimes two steps back and three steps forward. Stay with it. There is no one right way nor perfect progress. There is your way. There is your striving to progress. Trust these. You have old knowings that work. Others may offer ideas too. Consider, take what you need, and leave the rest.

18 Take time choosing legal help … Take time to think things through carefully if you are approached by persons offering legal help. For persons who are badly injured or survivors of a family member who died, or those who have lost much, legal support may be considered. But, also be aware that in some instances, involvement in years’ long legal pursuits can thieve freedom to live life again as you please… instead one’s highs and lows dictated by how the legal case is progressing each day. Consider carefully. If you need a lawyer, it is best to seek your own referrals from trusted friends rather than respond to lawyers who contact you.

19 The inner circle: survivor support groups … It is true that some of your friends and relatives may never understand what you, the on-the-scene person, experienced …unless they were there too. Sometimes the ones we want to turn to for support, cannot grasp all that occurred. That’s alright. That’s why there are often survivor groups formed. The people in ‘the inner circle’ understand one another innately.

20 If you feel stuck in deepening or chronic high distress … If you find at any time that you feel stuck in endless anger, or want to isolate yourself without cease, or have unabated high anxiety, or continue to be hyper vigilant, have intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, thoughts of hurting yourself or others, nightmares or other sleep distresses, over-reactions to run of the mill events, begin to destroy your most cherished relationships… don’t put it off … seek help with those you trust, those known to help others to heal. It is often only one tiny thing that needs to be tightened or loosened in consciousness or heart or mind or body; not a total reconfiguration of the entire psyche. Seeking aid when needed, dokusan, going alone to the teacher, exercises the quality of compassionate effort… in your own behalf.

21 Post-trauma recovery therapy … It is not a character flaw nor a failure of the person to seek psychological, physical or spiritual wisdom. Please understand that severe, sudden shocks to the body and consciousness can throw off chemicological balances in the body. Sometimes the body needs medicine to help to recover the chemical equilibrium that influences sense of self, even out mood, and sense of ease with the world. Listening to the teachings of a helper, healer, therapist trained in resetting one on the path again, or in post-trauma recovery is useful to untangle thought processes that often become jammed by prior pressure to respond to too many sudden and strong stimuli all at once. The remedy is concentration and striving to release true self again.

22 Consider traditional and/or alternative therapies … Sitting with a trusted person is also a place to speak the thoughts you would prefer not to speak more publicly or to friends or family. It also is a place of learning to create new life as you now wish it to be, with insight and vision. Some might choose EMDR, a eye-movement therapy that reduces the anxiety of trauma for many; some choose talking; some analyze dreams, looking for symbols which free them when understood, some also take specially compounded medicines and herbs, create ceremony, cleansing rituals, dance, art, song, writing, painting, as well as practice meditation, sit satsung, keep journals, do yoga, meet in small communities, bless one another, pray together, laugh together, go fishing more often, take up new skills that relax them or go back to those that once did … and many use expressive arts to come to terms. Use any and all, as you see fit.

23 Don’t be afraid to talk to your children adult-to-adult … If you are a parent, help your children by listening, listening. Just because your young children, or your young adult children are silent, or just because they laugh or go out with friends or say everything is fine, does not mean they are without need of your special regard. The consciousness often splits in two during eye-witness and/or sudden trauma. This is a healthy and temporary adaptation. One side goes on functionally, seemingly unaware of the travails (but psyche records all) while the other side maybe, for a time, drowning in bewilderment, helplessness, a sense of the surreal, and sorrow. The two ways of seeing and thinking will come back together again more and more, and with a united vision eventually… be there for that and throughout that. “Being with,” undistractedly heals the duality and places one in the sense of the world, one holds sacred. Don’t be afraid to talk to your children adult to adult. Do not hesitate to consult the steady and wise for good advice, and to gain spiritual, body work, psychological therapy, both for yourself and your child if you think it useful and/ or needed to learn… and to process what one is learning. Children are observant and wise too. You may learn much from speaking to children after a collective trauma.

24 With children, do your loving best … Healing from trauma is, at its best, educative, teaches about how the consciousness and behavior and spirit actually work together, or don’t, but can… with a few adjustments and conscious good will. Children look to and often follow the mindful tones their parents take about such matters. If you made an error of under or over reacting, just back up, say so to your child, say you know how to do it better now. The children learn so quickly, they will most often back up and follow your new and better mindful lead. Perfection in grieving, perfections in coming back to life, is not the point. What counts the most is that you just do your loving best. This is a stable attitude: “doing best,” – but not without also ‘doing love’ even more so. You know your child best, and know the ways to love and tend to that children can easily understand.

25 Decide to live fully … In the ensuing days, find things to do that feel rewarding, meaningful or refreshing. These need not be big things, but events or endeavors to offer some small balances to the tragedy and overwhelm you have been through. It is alright to live fully, even though precious others have been suddenly injured, harmed, or died. In fact, many of us hold that it is exactly right to decide to live fully in honor of those who currently cannot or could not. There is to be no guilt for moments of happiness or celebrations. Moments of happiness are, again, the force of the living plant blossoming again. Your life blossoms again. And this is just right.

26 There are times … that are worthy of speaking about … When you feel bad, find a person to talk to, and to cry with, to tell of your anger and other helpless feelings. Don’t keep it inside. If you think you’re ‘bothering people,’ or being’ weak’, remember people who love you will wind up spending much energy being even more worried about you if you go mute. It’s alright to talk, even if it’s not usual for you. There are times of life of great consequence that are worthy of speaking about. This is one of those times. We are what we are, it is true, but also now there are new ways for fine-tuning true selflessness, which includes helping oneself so that one can guide others in wisdom, by saying, ‘Yes, me too, I have suffered also and that is why I know a bit of the way forward, and so here’s my suggestion, with caring, to you’… It is true that those who appear to be most in need often cause the enlightenment of others. These are times that are worthy of speaking truthfully and openly about your own highest knowings.

27 Take care not to overindulge nor self-medicate … You are vulnerable in some new ways when you’re recovering from shock; take care to not over-indulge or self-medicate with substances, or other consciousness-numbing addictions, or trying to lose oneself in unprotected sex, or ongoing bitterness, or know-it-allness, as defenses against feeling vulnerable. Regarding effective anger: Anger is energy to use in controlled and reasoned ways to get things done. It is a fire with a hearth, ought not be an unbanked fire without guardian stones around it.

28 Seek people of spirit who love the soul, the true self … Your spiritual beliefs will definitely help you through. Cleave to them in full. For those who have been dispirited by some inhumane ‘religious’ person long ago, do not hold yourself away from this kind of healing for your spirit now. Instead, consider seeking people of spirit who love the attitude of generosity; there are many of them in the world, some in organized religions and spirituality communities, and some who wander freelance in this wide world. Ally with them. They will have special balm for you.

29 Making sense of it all: “God’s Business,” “Creator’s Business,” “Source without source”… I would offer this to you too, a personal philosophy I carry… Some may be helped by knowing it is good to develop a category in one’s consciousness called something like “Creator’s Business,” “God’s Business,” “the business of Source without source”– for some things will never make sense, some things one cannot ever control or ever understand. Accidents are incomprehensible. Twists of fate often have little ‘rational fact’ to them. Evil things are, by definition, insensible. And some things, some events, some outcomes, will forever only be “God’s Business,” Creator’s Business,” The business of Source without source…” understood and sealed in mercy by One Greater. One of all qualities, all pathways mastered… calling us to follow.

30 The dignity you deserve … We all wish to be brave and strong in the face of sudden upheaval and disaster. We all wish to be looked up to for our endurance and our efforts to help others. If you truly care for humanity, then too, be sure to include yourself in their numbers, by giving your own inner feelings and thoughts the voice and the dignity they and you so deeply deserve.

31 Please remember, worldwide there are strangers who are industrial-strength praying men and women. We have you on our radar and have already called forth all Good and Great, asking that you be watched over and guided into fullest life again. We’re asking that you and all your loved ones be kept safe, that you see miracles during this time, that you ever know that angels are near you, touching you gently, and guiding you to meaningful and full life again.

Please lean on our prayers for you,
and with love,
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

This work is under Creative Commons copyright, meaning it may be forwarded, shared as long as nothing is deleted or added to the body proper, and this notice remains with it: Post Trauma Recovery Protocol by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés ©1965, 1970, 1988, 2007, 2012, all rights reserved.

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Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

  • roro80

    Oh Dr E, you do such important work. Thank you.

    I actually have someone (not involved in the incident in Denver) who could use this very much, and I will pass it along in hope that this person will find some use for it.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Im made glad you will pass this on to your ‘someone.’ May it be useful. Thanks Roro.

  • zephyr

    Thank-you Dr. E.

  • Zita

    This is powerful information and in reading it today, I found comfort and direction for myself. Though not touched personally by the terrible events in Colorado, this article is one I will read again and hold as a resource. Thank you for the timely information.