Are You Able to Hold Hope In Life?

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Finding hope, let alone holding hope as a thread through life these days, can seem like a tough task for so many.

Trauma survivors often struggle to find or hold hope in their lives.

It’s understandable when so much pain has been endured in life — when you have not been able to trust anyone to do the relational job they were supposed to. It’s so very hard to believe things will get better, when they haven’t, over and over again. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s understandable to survive by using coping strategies and survival skills to help you feel just less badly since feeling better seems so unachievable.

We see versions of the real life struggles play out in the media, whether a Hulu Series, like Dopesick, detailing America’s struggles with opioid addiction, this guest essay in the NY Times — Exercise Was the Perfect Coping Mechanism, Until It Wasn’t — about the use of overexercise to help dull the emotional pain, or this new book.

I get it – who doesn’t want to feel less pain?! Finding ways to survive makes sense based on what trauma survivors experienced in their lives. Especially for complex trauma survivors — survivors of childhood trauma — who didn’t grow up having any foundation for safety or anyone who was there for them. They experienced no modeling or learning of healthy emotional regulation and given no notion that life can get better!

As a holder of hope (a therapist’s job), today I want to say:

There is hope out there for you!

My husband likes to joke that I love a feel-good movie — of course, I do — it reminds me of the kindness and compassion of the world and narrates stories of hope. Joke all you want — I adore a story of people getting the good they deserve!

I came across something inspiring recently that brought warmth to my heart and water to my eyes — I wonder if it might help light that spark of belief or hope in you?

Humans of New York recently did a 13-part story on a man named John Gargano which shares so much that I know to be true about trauma. We see the pain, the longing, the relationships, the healing — with curiosity and compassion sprinkled in throughout. Maybe you’ll read this and be able to relate to those emotions and see that the possibilities for the future are different than what you’ve experienced in the past. What if you deserve a feel-good story for your life? Start with part 1 here or on Instagram at @humansofny.

People long for connection, to know someone will be there for them. To know someone gets them. To know someone cares for them and believes in them.

To hold hope when they can not.

This is what therapists do, we walk beside on life journeys, being present, hearing and seeing our clients, witnessing their pain — being there. Holding hope, until they can do it for themselves.

Like the premise of this wonderful book I recently read, Together:  The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, by Vivek Murthy, MD, relationships heal — and that can start with the therapeutic relationship.

Healing starts with the helpers, and they are out there if you look for them — whether it’s a therapist, the members of a support group, or a compassionate friend. Now more than ever, the media is sharing stories of trauma, mental health, and healing. These stories are powerful and relatable, because they show the trauma and tragedy — but they also show the hope and healing which is available.

If you are not yet able to hold hope for yourself, know that there are people who can hold the hope for you.

If you are ready to start a therapeutic journey towards healing, please reach out.


About the Author

Robyn E. Brickel, M.A., LMFT Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT is the director and lead therapist at Brickel and Associates, LLC in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, which she founded in 1999. She specializes in the therapeutic treatment of individuals (adolescents and adults), couples, families and groups. Robyn E. Brickel offers treatment and psychoeducational services for many life issues and transitions, such as: A history of trauma and/or abuse, including Dissociation; Addictions, as well as Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) issues; Body Image issues and Eating Disorders; Self-Harming behaviors, including Emotional intensity and instability; Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders; Challenged family systems; Chronic illness; Co-dependency; Dysfunctional relationships; Life transitions; Loss and bereavement; Relationship distress; Self esteem; GLBTQ and sexual identity issues/struggles; Stress reduction. She is an LMFT, as well as a trained trauma & addictions therapist who has helped countless clients make and maintain positive changes in their lives. To learn more about Robyn E. Brickel, visit her website.

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