How It Works
The Unbound Men’s Healing Group
From A portion of Chapter 8: The Door to Healing Opens with Awareness, Acceptance and Action from The Unbound Man
“Although you are not responsible for all the things that you may have encountered to this point, you ARE responsible for what you DO about the hurt you feel.”
– Michael S. Figgers, Healing the Hearts of Broken Men
The first secret I can share with you about the road to recovery and healing from trauma is that it’s not something marked with one big, bold-letter sign that says “Trauma Recovery,” like a directional sign on an interstate or in an airport terminal. Even if such a sign existed, most guys would be too intimidated to follow it anyway. We’d just go some other way. Or we wouldn’t be ready to identify the problem we’re dealing with as “Trauma” in the first place.
So how does this process of seeking help and getting better actually work? Who or what is going to help show you the way? After spending the past twenty-eight years on my own road to healing and wholeness from all those traumas I told you about, I’ve come up with one description of what will open the door, pointing you where you need to be to launch your own healing path and start navigating your way toward a more peaceful, fulfilling and satisfying life. It’s a simple three-step process:
Awareness just means that you’re starting to recognize that something is not right in your life. It might be awareness of a particular form of trauma or loss that you picked up from something you came across in your day-to-day life. Something made the light switch on. Maybe the switch flicked on while you were reading the first half of this book, through the many traumas that we have been shining the spotlight on. But you don’t have to be aware of a specific trauma to start getting help. You may find yourself just becoming aware of one of the many symptoms of trauma: an addiction, anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, a relationship in turmoil, a career or financial loss or crisis, doing something that put you in prison, etc. One way or another, you just have that sense that “something’s messed up in my life.”
Acceptance is the step that comes after you have learned something about physical trauma, sexual trauma, emotional trauma or any other trauma or symptom of trauma that describes your experience. You take this step when you accept that this trauma or symptom is real for you. You’re going further than just saying, “Something’s messed up in my life” by adding the phrase “and I have at least some idea about what it may be.” You know you have a problem and it’s not getting better. Slowly, you’re beginning to put a name to that problem and saying, “Yeah, that’s me.”
Action is the third step of the process, and it’s a critical piece of the puzzle. It’s nice to know about a trauma or a symptom and accept that it very well may be something that describes what is troubling you. But if you don’t take action to get help, you won’t see any positive change in your life. That problem won’t be going away just because you’ve named it.
I want to make an important point about this action step. With our training as men, we often fall into a belief that once we have identified a problem, we’re just going to beat that problem. That usually takes the form of pushing the problem to the side and pretending it doesn’t exist. You know, that whole manning up thing. Or we figure we can beat a problem like having an addiction by just upping our performance level somewhere else in life, like making a bunch of money or achieving a certain status. But this attempt at beating the problem just makes the problem get bigger, because beating the problem is not the same as solving the problem. And solving the problem leads to health and healing. That’s the kind of action we’re talking about in this A-A-A process.
Once you have decided to take action and you complete that first step to address a trauma or symptom of trauma in your life, the possibilities of how to get better just open up. For men, taking that first step might be the hardest thing we ever do. But I’m here to remind you that it also leads to the greatest rewards. I’m also here to provide you with information, guidance and understanding, gained from first-hand experience, that can make this whole idea of getting help for trauma something you’re ready to sign on to and even embrace.