Lessons Learned from Trauma

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“This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.”

-Catherine Woodiwiss

I read an interesting article today, “A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma” by Catherine Woodiwiss. What is trauma, and who defines it? Who is to say what is traumatic to one person, is not traumatic to the next? Trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience,” or “emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis.” I didn’t realize until recently that a trauma doesn’t have to be one single event and that it doesn’t even have to appear to be severe. I downplayed the trauma in my life. I spent 5 years in a relationship that was less than ideal. Red flags were thrown at me immediately and I ignored each and every one of them. This person had complete control over me from the very moment he laid his eyes on me. He never physically harmed me so I never realized what he was doing was actually abuse. It took years for this to come to fruition, but once I learned this, I was able to start healing. The death of my sister 3 years ago was another extremely traumatic event in my life.

I have spent the past 3 years in grief and I am finally starting to heal from this. It is a journey, and a long process, and like the above quote says “this is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.” I wake up every morning and have to coach myself through the day. I fall off track almost daily, it is just a matter of how and when I pick myself back up. Imagine the feeling of fear Alice felt from Alice in Wonderland as she fell down the rabbit hole. Some days I feel like I’m drowning, or that the whole world around me is going to collapse. That is a bit of what trauma feels like to me today.

The article mentions how in order to survive trauma you need a crisis team that includes a “firefighter” and a “builder”. I have people in my life who are both. My boyfriend can be a little bit of both, he can see the panic in my eyes and hear it in my voice before I even realize I’m falling into the hole again. If need be, he can drop everything and be there by my side to pull me out of the hole. Sometimes, however, he doesn’t pull me out, but he pushes and motivates me to climb my way out on my own. My therapist is another “builder” as she is teaching me ways to heal myself. And I have surrounded myself with friends and family who are supportive in my efforts to grow and to heal.

Read the article here: https://sojo.net/articles/new-normal-ten-things-ive-learned-about-trauma

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