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Trauma is a hot topic these days, and I can honestly say it will probably stick around for a while.
Everywhere I turn, there are stories of people opening up about their traumatic life experiences. Why the sudden outpour of so much trauma?
I am fascinated, personally, by it all and became curious about my own heavy baggage years ago because I knew that all too familiar weight of how trauma felt upon my back.
There are some things in life that I will probably always be unsure about: how long I will live, if I could ever survive without a GPS (I have the worst sense of direction), and if I will get to see all the places I want to see in this lifetime.
However, there are a few awakening truths regarding trauma that I am 100 percent sure of:
1. Trauma is not trendy.
Yes, it’s true that many people around the globe are becoming familiar with it, putting a voice behind it, expressing their feelings about it, seeking help with it, and healing it.
I don’t consider this as attention-seeking behavior.
I see a domino effect of awakening in the subject. We are identifying it, and we are no longer ashamed or wish to neatly tuck it under the rug of denial. This is healthy and not one bit trendy.
2. Trauma is universal and did not begin with us.
Trauma is most often handed down and has a cycle to uphold.
When we look back into the generations that came before us, there was more suppression of feelings, shame around the truth of family dysfunction, fear of revealing “dirty” secrets, and an all-over tendency to cover up anything we did not understand.
Our ancestors were often forced to hold onto their own trauma (for their entire lives) because, quite often, no one would want to “believe” the truth anyhow. Can you imagine how that must have felt?
The minute we begin to see how trauma has entangled our lives, we begin to break the cycle. Even the most balanced families have some dysfunction, so as we can all only imagine that deep trauma—the kind that has been handed down generation after generation—is so intense that it may take many years (with professional help, if any is even available) to unravel.
According to Gabor Mate, trauma is not what happened to us but the feeling of being alone during a traumatic event.
If we are not equipped to deal with our own trauma, how can we help someone else?
If we don’t have the tools (and are not given any education around how to work with trauma), how can we help others to make sense of trauma?
The short answer is that we don’t.
Times are changing and now this so-called “trendy” topic is popping up all over the place—without hesitation, shame, or fear.
Bravo, humans! Keep going.
Keep being curious, open, and brave. Let’s keep cheering each other on and make being real a societal norm. Let’s move away from the natural tendency to cover up our pain and only offer a perfectionistic image of who we are.
Our lives look much different than how we portray them on social media.
We could all use a break from the repercussions and byproducts of trying to uphold an unrealistic way of life: we are depressed, isolated, and full of anxiety trying to keep the image going that everything is picture-perfect.
The more stories of suffering we share with one another, the more we can heal as a collective. The more human we become.
3. Trauma and addiction have a close connection.
We learn about coping mechanisms the minute we begin to disconnect from ourselves as the result of a traumatic experience. When Gabor asked a group of recovering addicts in “The Wisdom of Trauma,” he asked them what their addiction brought to their lives. Most answers were connection, wholeness, decreased inhibitions, or joy. Then he brought to light that those desires were not at all “bad” things.
Essentially, we all want to feel loved and whole, and it was the trauma that caused us to disconnect with ourselves and push us to soothe with coping mechanisms: drugs, alcohol, food, sex, and on and on.
So, if looking at our trauma and talking about it helps us to move in a positive direction toward a culture that can openly speak of and “own” what has happened without our own self-judgment or judgment from another, then we are making some indispensable progress.
4. Facing our trauma changes the world.
Clearly, we all have a lot to heal. We need to heal our planet, our children, and ourselves.
I have noticed many authors who are bravely reaching out and telling their stories with courage and authenticity. The only way to keep healing is to support those who take a stand and pave the way for others who feel that they may not yet have a voice.
We must look beyond the comparing of trauma, as all is valid of recognition, confirmation, and support. We must put aside the medical dictionary as a way to diagnose (or rank) people’s pain.
Sometimes we have to put aside the classification systems and look with our hearts, going beyond the logical mind, and see our pain as a universal human thing.
We have to trust ourselves.
If we can offer true empathy and kindness, then our world will only become sweeter and more alive.
Keep dissecting trauma and leaning on those who will listen, so we can operate from a place of worthiness, nonjudgment, and wholeness.
It takes a hell of a lot less energy to exist (without all the shame and repression), and we can move closer to accessing our full potential of a lighter and more fulfilled life.