We are all a bit traumatized from this thing called life
Welcome cherished traumatized souls! I here to tell you something: You are not alone. When I was a kid I thought the word "traumatized" meant you ended up sitting in a chair, staring at a wall, catatonic. I didn’t know that I had been through trauma. I didn’t know that most of us have.
As I have traveled through my 50+ years, I’ve gleaned so much knowledge through exploring my own traumas and the coping mechanisms I developed as a result. I’ve worked with so many people and witnessed their tenacity to endure traumas. I have realized that this word trauma is a deep bucket in which many, many different experiences can be stored. I will start this post personally, with the first true turning point or trauma in my life.
When I was 3 my mom left our house. I maintained a regular weekly visit with her, but from then on my dad was my primary caregiver. And he was a wonderful one. Other than that, my childhood, for all intents and purposes, was pretty quiet. There were other challenges, but nothing that stopped me in my tracks quite like that one did. My parents divorce was civil; they went on with their lives separately and quietly, and cared for me with great love.
In my early 20’s, seemingly out of nowhere in a pizza parlor, anxiety crept up and suddenly I lost my appetite. Pizza dropped in my plate. My appetite for didn’t return for 3 months. I lost 20 lbs. Anxiety attacks became the unwanted theme of that summer. They cumulatively got worse. I felt lost and defective. I went into psychotherapy. I began to look inward. I began to see how I manifested that trauma mentioned above in my own body and in al of my outward actions.
Trauma comes in all forms. In psychology it’s categorized like this: 1) Big T trauma (i.e natural disasters, loss of a child or caregiver, terminal diagnosis) and; 2) Little T trauma (i.e loss of a job, loss of a relationship.) Most of us have had little T traumas throughout our lives. We little T-ers, as I will call us, tend to look at big T-ers and feel ashamed. Ashamed that we have the nerve to have any residual issues from our seemingly easy lives.
The incident is not the issue. It's how we internalize these things that is most important. Turns out we little T-ers usually have a bunch of cumulative things that cause long term pain. The time in our lives when these things happen is also crucial. The smaller we are when they occur, the more disrupted our coping will become. Our nervous systems actually change. The actual changes that happen in our central nervous system are something I will get into in another post. For this one I want to stay simple & focused on this: looking externally for definitions of what is traumatic, or how we should cope, only leads to insecurity and more cycling back into pain.
It was not until I accepted my anxiety was purposeful, and not some selfish absurd dalliance, that I began to move out of that scary place. My body and mind were telling me in no uncertain terms that it was time for a shift. There were some things I had to look at. The journey was long, it continues, and as I always say, is NEVER LINEAR. But it is worth it. Each layer peeled away from my suppressed pain lessened that heavy foreboding that I truly thought would be with me the rest of my life. So cut yourself some slack. Reach out to someone, something, ANYTHING that feels like it will redirect you in a healthy way (sorry red wine, while fabulous, is not the answer.) Stop berating yourself for not “getting over it.” Lean on your Big T-ers. They tend to come out quicker because their trauma is seen as more acceptable. Big T-ers have much to teach us. They are the most supreme example of how we humans are a brave and hearty bunch, no matter what life throws at us, or how we cope. They can show us what is at the end of what seems to be a long dark tunnel. WE are at the end of that tunnel, only lighter and more connected to ourselves.