The Trauma Paradox – Free Yourself From the Isolation of Feeling Defective / Other / Separate

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!


* Disclaimer: The contents of this blog and accompanying YouTube channel are for informational purposes only and do not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided through this website is expressly the opinions of each author and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. This is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Links on this website are provided only as an informational resource, and it should not be implied that we recommend, endorse or approve of any of the content at the linked sites, nor are we responsible for their availability, accuracy or content.

  • David Roya says:

    Right on the money. Our bodies hold our whole history of all the mental and physical hits of a lifetime. Our bodies cannot differentiate between the mental and the physical. It behaves the same way. I have a whole lifetime of all kinds of exercising and healthy eating yet so much unprocessed emotions inhibited my ability to be at peace in the moment when I am not exercising intently. Being 77 and still exercising for 3-5 hours a day as well as teaching it ,I am blessed to be pain and drug free. I attribute that to my attention to posture, alignment , body work and flexibility. Thank you for your work; David Roya

    • Hi David, thanks so much for sharing! I am so inspired by you being 77, exercising that much, teaching, being drug and pain free…I believe this is possible for all of us, though it certainly takes commitment and making the right choices along the way. Keep inspiring!

  • Kate Lutz says:

    I love your idea of normalizing trauma since I too believe that none of us skate through without some kind of trauma. Some people seem to be able to shake it off while mine is wrapped in shame and therefore it’s difficult to share. I’ve done lots of work around this and have a wonderful life and deep and beautiful sweet relationships. I’m still self sabotaging and would love to move that out.
    Thanks ????????

    • Hi Kate – thank you for sharing and being transparent about self sabotaging. I’m pretty convinced we all do this, in minor and major ways. In my experience there’s wisdom in the resistance, and something that we still haven’t confronted fully that our saboteur pulls our attention back to (often this comes down to FEAR). And, sometimes it’s just a strong pattern that we have to break. What do you think about yours? I’m rooting for you!

  • Tara S says:

    I think you have something here. To be seen, to see others & hold space for everyone’s trauma to be released & shared & for it all to be normal and ok. To let go of it. No longer needing to hide it or burry it or store it in our bodies or our minds. This sounds like a beautiful way to heal. Thank you Elisha.

  • John Steinberg says:

    Interesting topic and glad you are able to verbalize your feelings. We can’t rely on family or friends to help us. This an inside job, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. We’re the best person for the job because we know ourselves the best. I know pain from being a world class endurance athlete. I let pain shape me, but never let it control me. I had to endure pain in order to make myself strong enough to outlast and outsmart it and finally control it so I could just walk away from it at the end of the day and to say I’ll see you tomorrow and I will beat you.

    • Hey John, thanks for sharing your thoughts! All of healing is an inside job really. Although I do think we heal in relationship primarily – the relationship we have with ourselves, our body, our partners, friends and the natural world. Endurance sports certainly demand some form of being with the pain (or “enduring” it). Pain is an AMAZING teacher!

  • Exactly my experience. Shutting down on unheard feelings (freezing them) doesn’t mean we don’t look for other experiences where those feelings can arise and be dealt with BUT if we decide to freeze them second or third time around they get really encysted and deeper in the undertow. Still, better health and peace of mind are the prize of feeling them even 40 years later, or determining not to continue the habit of the addiction to the chemistry of them

    • Hi Bonnie – thank you for sharing your thoughts! You bring up a really important point: many people do get addicted to the chemistry/hormones of “drama” related to reenacting their trauma over and over. Freedom lies in making new choices from a place of consciousness rather than unconsciousness.

  • >