Trauma, in my life, meant I was “other/different/defective” and that was worst of all, certainly worse than anything I’d been through.
The idea that there was something so “wrong” with me (and not the rest of the world) that I needed to be sequestered in four square walls of privacy where this thing called therapy happens, was probably the most traumatizing. That idea, in combination with how my family treated me for so long – I was labeled dramatic, selfish, bitter, angry and clearly defective, because I kept insisting on looking at the pain instead of focusing on the positives in our family history – created most of my actual trauma. Healing required that I decide, for myself, that my feelings were “normal,” and what doesn’t feel normal at all is burying our pain and creating mass stories of denial in order not to face it all. I had to stop participating in the cover up.
Your story, no matter how different from mine, is probably similar (at least, I’m going to guess it is). Something in your childhood occurred (or maybe it was a string of events) and you decided not to tell anyone because that didn’t seem to be the way it’s done, so you kept it to yourself (not wanting to be “other,” separate or different). Or maybe you decided to tell someone, only to be scolded, shamed, laughed at or made the object of someone else’s shame, anger or fear. And that experience confirmed your suspicion that what you’ve been through is so different from the norm that it’s not even to be mentioned. You “toe the line” in order to maintain the illusion that everything and everyone is “normal” (as normal as can be), and there’s nothing lurking under the surface of the family/community that sure, has its quirks, but other than that is totally “fine.”
Today I am proposing that we’re facing a trauma crisis due to this paradox:
The events themselves (violence, abuse, not feeling seen, sexual, verbal and physical assaults) aren’t actually that painful when we have someone (hopefully a whole family/community) there to embrace us, hold us, and carry that pain with us immediately after the event(s).
Trauma is what happens when we decide – either internally or because of external validation – that the events are shameful and make us defective, “other” and in need of sequestering away from “normal” society. Trauma is what happens when we don’t get to process the painful events of our lives fully, and bury them in our bodies, hearts and minds instead.
The antidote then is to embrace the idea that we’re all traumatized (to some extent), and to “normalize” trauma and come home to ourselves; to make our bodies the safest places we can exist instead of those four therapy walls where we have to pay someone to be with us in our pain.
The antidote is taking our rightful place in life and in our relationships, painful past events, emotions and all. We can’t afford to wait for the world to normalize trauma and tell us we’re not defective. Imagine if every traumatized human right now decided to own their story and love themselves fully, decided to love other traumatized people equally and proudly hold hands together, declaring “these hearts are human, in all our pain and joys we are human.”
Please share your thoughts below, you know I LOVE hearing from you!