Everyone experiences trauma. Some people are destroyed by it. It consumes their entire lives. Some people are marginally affected by it. Some people do a lot of work to get over the things that happened to them. But even then, it is a daily reprieve.
We seem to live in a culture that is super sympathetic to trauma survivors. But we get impatient with their healing. We want them to get better fast. To heal and move on. But there are things that happen to us in this life that alter us, change us and we are forever this new person that we are only faintly acquainted with...and so is everyone else we know.
A lot of people drink and drug through their trauma. They numb, check out, disconnect, go somewhere else where they think the trauma isn’t. But it isn’t possible. The trauma becomes you. You are the trauma unless you deal with it. It may not have been your fault...you were just living your life and some awful shit went down, but if you are lucky enough to live through your trauma, it is yours to deal with forever.
You can try to make others responsible for it. Save you from it. Hold them accountable for making you feel safe, secure, loved, liked, revered. But it is always yours. Others may help or hurt, but you are the only one who knows.
Whether your trauma be brief or life lasting, dealing with it, helping it find a home within your skin, will, in my experience, bring the most life lasting peace in your life.
Our brains are wired for connection but trauma rewires them for protection. Once this happens, it takes a lot of work to undo the rewiring. A lot of people, rightly think, that it is not their responsibility to do the work, the trauma something inflicted upon them by another, so therefor not theirs to deal with...however, that is not my experience. Holding that belief will kill you. You will so not hold your own life in your hands that you will likely almost end your life holding someone else accountable for your work. Just because you didn’t cause the trauma, doesn’t mean that healing isn’t yours.
After this whole wiring, rewiring, re-rewiring fiasco, it is hard to find a healthy relationship. Especially since the masses are out there just numbing and running from the pain. Look at our prisons. That is the largest collection of traumatized individuals any society holds. And not one of those people has likely been successful in dealing with the multiple traumas of their lives. They were once hapless victims, who become perpetrators of all kinds of awful shit. But make no mistake, their traumas survived would make you never sleep again.
It seems that scientists are discovering new ways that trauma impacts, lives, takes over, and kills every day. A lot of work is being done to see how trauma impacts. It is a discovery in evolution which seems fitting because that is what it is like to heal, a constant evolution.
This is why healthy relationships are difficult for wounded people. Hell, healthy relationships are hard for just regular people who are not subjects of horrific trauma. What I have learned and continue to deepen my awareness of is that despite me really, really, really wanting it to be different, some traumas are life long. They get better and more manageable if you do the work, but they are yours, to deal with or not, for life. The trauma will make your decisions for you. Relegating your life to one trauma reaction after another if you don’t get in there and do the very hard work to assimilate what has happened to you in this life into a working knowledge, a roadmap of who you are, regardless of whose fault it is that you are the way you are.
What I have learned is that trauma is sneaky. It is not that different from alcoholism. It tells you, "You are fine. Don’t look there. Do not enter!" But if you don’t, it will control your entire fucking life until you have not much of one left. Oh, you may survive it but it will kill the intimacy, joy and love in your life until all you have left is you and your memories of that which you refused to deal with.
We are vulnerable people in the world. We get up every day and put on our clothes and venture out into living, sometimes we never make it out our front door when something life altering happens to us. The home being one of the most unsafe places of all, most especially for women and children. But if we do not recognize and deal with all that has happened to us, it will control us and own us. Everything we touch, all we encounter becomes yet another victim of some horrible thing that happened ages ago.
As someone once said to me, “this person who hurt you ruined every life he touched, please don’t let him take yours too.”
I took those words to heart and have done and continue to do my best to find peace with the past. To love and live with joy and understanding and compassion for all that I survived. It isn’t always easy or pretty. But my life is far from ruined because when you deal with the trauma, it becomes just another thing that you learn to live with, like alcoholism or diabetes. You make adjustments, alignments and find a channel for the past, that doesn’t completely control your present which leaves the future open to something other than one trauma reaction after another.
So if you have trauma, find a therapist, make an appointment and begin. It may take time and it is going to hurt. But you can pay now or you pay for the rest of your life. It is totally up to you.