You know, trauma has a tendency of making us throw up our hands and say, WTF?!
Some of us have been fortunate enough to have a pretty decent upbringing or general life experience and then – BAM – something atrocious happens.
Some of us are born into trauma. From day one, not knowing what the hell “safe” feels like. And, oftentimes, we not only have to recover from our own traumas, but we also end up having to reconcile with our parent’s old wounds. It can feel like double duty.
And sometimes it’s a mix of these things.
Whether it’s a more acute or chronic experience, trauma can really mess with you.
It can feel like King Kong decided to go traipsing through your carefully built LEGOLAND leaving those tiny, colorful pieces strewn all over the place. You may feel violated and powerless. You may be wondering if you will ever even find those little pieces to rebuild LEGOLAND. And you may be grieving the loss of your LEGOLAND’s invincibility.
You might consider reaching out to friends but feel ashamed, thinking, “Did I do something wrong? Why was my LEGOLAND so vulnerable? It must be me.” (Of course, it’s not but that might be how you feel.)
Or you might feel sure – it’s not my fault, King Kong did this! But who can help me now? What’s done is done. LEGOLAND is gone.
Maybe you feel frozen or flooded with emotion and fear. Perhaps you want to fight back. Or you maybe you just want to curl up for the next few weeks reading Harry Potter and pretend it never happened.
Either way, you’re in it right now.
Eventually, you try to get some sleep. But between trying to fall asleep and stay asleep, King Kong takes over there too. And it sucks, why should King Kong have this much reign over you!
You opt for hot chocolate instead and on your way to the kitchen you accidentally step on those strewn LEGO pieces. The jolt of pain in your feet launches you back into what it felt like when King Kong first destroyed your beautiful LEGOLAND. Your efforts to take care of yourself, heal and move forward can feel hopeless at this stage and you may not even know what you want in life, in general.
This is a bit of a silly example, but the reality is that nobody wants to feel destroyed like LEGOLAND here. Nor do they want to run into the carnage over and over again like stepping on LEGOs in the middle of the night. These are the effects that trauma can have on us.
But here’s the thing about it. It may be impossible to completely rebuild LEGOLAND in the exact same vision as before, but it is possible to create a newer, stronger version of you.
This is called post-traumatic growth and it is POWERFUL.
So, the TRUTH, which can seem like a bit of a mindfuck, is that our responses to trauma can actually make a lot of sense once we take a closer look.
For starters, trauma is an extreme form of stress. Stress and trauma are a fact of life. They are inherent experiences that we will likely experience at some point in our lives if we are brave enough to go out and live it.
Some of us are handed more lemons than others, but we are all dealt lemons at some point. With which we MUST figure out how to make lemonade.
Furthermore, our beautiful bodies have developed ways to protect ourselves, to cope, and to heal. We have EVOLVED to do this on a physical and socio-cultural level. When I think about it I am in pure awe of how amazing we are at this.
Working with trauma, in a lot of ways, is about working with life. Stuff is going to happen. But how do we rise up from it? How do we move forward? And how do we help ourselves to become more resilient in response to the small, every day shit that wears on us as well as the bigger crises that happen?
Well, we can’t do it alone. We’ve evolved to have an interdependency with others – a natural need for give and take with other beings. That is also a part of our survival strategy. Sometimes we need and sometimes we give. It takes all kinds.
Should you decide that you want to pursue therapy to take back your life and reveal your best self, know this:
It can feel worse before it gets better. But it can always get better and there is hope. I know that it may not feel that way right now, but it’s true.
This thing happened to you, but it is not who you are. My goal is to collaborate with you so that someday you can say, “Move over Trauma, there’s a new BOSS in town.”
Who’s the BOSS?