Please welcome Susan Leigh Furlong to Discover... For Fearless Friday, her post on surviving tragedy shows us there're all kinds of ways to be fearless when dealing with a traumatic event.
In Fight mode all the body’s “super powers” are heightened, taking the
form of anger, rage, or the physical strength as in fighting off an attacker.
In Flight mode the body wants to flee as in physically running away or mentally
hiding as in withdrawal from normal activities. Freeze mode renders a person
almost unable to function, unable to make decisions, to live in a “fog,”
ignoring people and places around them. All of these types of reactions are
typical and normal in the aftermath of a catastrophe.
Our brains stay in these modes until it perceives that it has found
“safety,” which can happen fairly quickly or can take years. And each person’s
survival/recovery takes a different and individual path. (So if anyone tells
you to “Just get over it!” get that person out of your recovery!)
Recovery or finding peace for your brain, can take many different
avenues. The first is accepting support from friends, family, a therapist, or
an established group of people who’ve been through what you have. Sometimes you
may have to reject “help” from people and places that aren’t right for you, and
it is your decision, not theirs.
Join in activities that
you enjoy or have enjoyed in the past. You may not think it will help, but at
least it is a start. Take up art, drawing, singing, participating in a
community theater, either on stage or in the background. Join a movement or
exercise class. Try aerobics or yoga, maybe swimming or even working out with
tapes at home by yourself. Take walks to nowhere in particular, but in a place
you feel safe. Walk with a friend who
agrees to not say a word, if that’s what you need. Go to lunch and agree to
only talk about the sunshine or the clouds, depending on the weather! Is meditation your thing? Give it a try.
Journalling is an
excellent way to write down your feelings, your anger, or your fear and then
close the cover and leave all those rotten emotions inside. Put a lock on the
journal if need be. No one else is to look at it. Put it in a lock box and get
a trusted friend to promise to destroy the whole box if anything happens.
Make sure if you choose a therapist, you get one who works for you. If
you don’t connect in a way that makes you comfortable, get another counselor,
and get another after that if you have to. This is your therapy!
I will say one thing
about medication. Under a doctor’s care and direct supervision, prescribed
medication can relieve the hard work your brain and emotions are doing. Do it
carefully and never on your own!
Sometimes it will feel
like you can’t work at healing yourself another minute longer. Then don’t! Take
a break, walk away, read a book, dig in the garden, whatever you need to rest.
Sleep may be difficult during this time and for a long time after, but check up
on relaxation techniques before bedtime. Some work, some don’t. As in all the
above, find which works for you, but don’t stop trying until you do.
In case you think I’m talking
through my hat, I will tell you that I have experienced severe trauma in my
life, a damaging childhood, losing a child, and losing my belief. Each time my
first reaction was to flee from the world coupled with raging anger, but I
eventually learned to choose another path because living with the trauma never
works. I chose one-on-one talk therapy, journalling, and the dramatic arts,
performing, singing, and writing. Writing my books comforts me in ways I cannot
You cannot bury the trauma. You have to actively work it away slowly.
Choose any method you want. If one doesn’t bring relief after a few weeks, try
another. If after a period of time your brain decides to reactivate its fear,
flight or freeze, go back to a pattern that worked in the past. Never give up.
You are in charge and you need to choose the path, or several, that
are right for you. The issue is that you take an active role in whatever way
you pull through.
You will survive! I don’t even know you, but I have faith in you!
(Incidentally, in Forgiven Never Forgotten, my heroine, Joneta, reacts by freezing, going through her life in a fog, while my hero, Rory, fights with everything he’s got. In 1692 none of the above techniques were known or available, but as a writer, I made certain my characters survived together to their own HEA!)
Book Blurb -
Rory Campbell, falsely accused
of participating in the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe killings, is sentenced to
hang as a sacrificial lamb while the real agents of the slaughter escape blame.
He risks everything to convince the love of his life, Joneta MacDonald, of the
truth. He can never forget how completely she owns his heart.
Joneta MacDonald watches helplessly as her family is murdered by the king’s men, but forgiving Rory for his seeming participation is harder than she imagined. What must she endure besides the clan’s hatred? With the overwhelming odds against them, she clings to her love for a man labelled a traitor.
Robert (Rory’s alias) abandoned all thoughts of good manners and
patience as he forced his way through the crowd toward the leather factory at
the end of the street. The livery needed new reins and harnesses, and he was
determined to get a good price. Most people cursed him when he gave them a
shove as he went by, but it didn’t stop him. The horses and carriages were
another matter, and he just had to wait until they passed.
He paused outside a dressmaker’s shop to admire several colorful bolts
of cloth and three dresses displayed in the window. He wished he had someone to
buy for. He was drawn to a dark blue material with yellow specks scattered
throughout, thinking it would suit Joneta, but here in Glasgow he knew no one
who would use the cloth, and it would stay that way for the rest of his lonely
Someone, giving him a sharp jolt to his back, knocked him out of his
reverie. His feet tangled, and he only stayed upright by steadying himself
against the window of the dress shop, his arms splayed to the sides.
Then he saw it.
Directly across the street, a head of auburn hair moved in the opposite
direction. Sunlight sparkled over the blond streaks throughout the braids.
He’d seen flashes of hair like hers before, and it always gave him a
shock in the pit of his stomach. Each time, after he realized it wasn’t her, he
felt sick, lonely, and cursed to never see her again, never to hold her or say
the words that stayed on his heart day and night. Even though he knew each time
it couldn’t be her, he always hoped it might be.
He had started toward the leather shop again when the auburn head of
hair stepped up into the doorway of the ribbon shop across the road to let
other people pass her. She faced toward the street now, and he got a good look
He called her. “Joneta! Joneta!”
She looked the other way, obviously unable to hear him above the din of
the passing shoppers.
He pushed himself onto the street just as the noisy wheels of a
horse-drawn wagon passed in front of him, blocking his way. He pounded the side
of the wagon in frustration. “Joneta!”
When he got a clear view of her again, she stepped out of the doorway
and moved down the street away from him.
In a fury, he called to her again as he elbowed people out of the way,
not caring if they fell into the muddy street. He screamed, “Joneta!”
Her head turned. She scanned the crowd.
He fought harder against the flow of people.
This time she caught her name on the wind. She saw him. Their eyes met.
She stepped into the mass of people on her side of the street, reaching for him and calling his name over and over. “Rory!” But the crowd moved her away from him. She grabbed the arm of a nearby man, who shook her off, and she stumbled into a woman with several packages under her arm. The packages fell. Joneta helped her pick them up, but by the time she got steady on her feet again, he was gone. She had to get to him. She fought harder, but it was useless. The people were too many, and she lost him.
Forgiven Never Forgotten will be
officially released on 12/20/2023 – Until then it can be pre-ordered.
Books are available on my website -
Booklinker - https://mybook.to/pCg1
Books2Read - https://books2read.com/u/mYDKDp
Her first three books published by The Wild Rose Press center on a family living in the Scottish Highlands in the sixteenth century. Her most recent novel takes place during the American Revolution, the same family but across the pond. A fifth book takes the reader back to Scotland. She also has two non-fiction books filled with over 200 photographs and tales about her home town.
When she is not researching and creating her stories, she writes, directs, and performs with a music and drama group.
Social Media Links
Website – https://www.SusanLFurlong.com