“Grief does not seem to me to be a choice. Whether or not you think grief has value, you will lose what matters to you. The world will break your heart. So I think we’d better look at what grief might offer us. It’s like what Rilke says about self-doubt: it is not going to go away, and therefore you need to think about how it might become your ally. Grief might be, in some ways, the long aftermath of love, the internal work of knowing, holding, more fully valuing what we have lost…” ~ Robert Chodo Campbell
It took me along time to not only accept, but appreciate what trauma had taught me in all of it’s different forms from sexual violence to loss and grief. In a way, trauma, has become my biggest teacher and my biggest inspiration for moving forward in my healing journey.
Post traumatic stress what is most associated with trauma ( PTSD it is not a “disorder” but rather a natural way of surviving and coping through trauma) happens as a result of not only misdiagnoses, but not trusting your inner wisdom to guide you back home-to your body, mind and heart. The body is never a disorder, only a natural order responding to survive and cope.
Trauma isn’t good or bad, our tendency to label what we are experiencing can help us out at times, but other times it leaves us feeling like something is wrong and that doesn’t bring us closer to healing. Trauma(s) are simply an experience that many of us go through which has the potential to strengthen and transcend us when we are able to look at it as a witness.
Can we observe the trauma from an outsiders perspective rather than judge ourself for feeling or not feeling a certain way? Can we begin to feel the wisdom that this experience holds for us, the growth that has the potential to occur?
The only way we truly grow is by being vulnerable, and that starts by unmasking ourselves. Trauma is an experience that over 70% of the population goes through. Most of us are not alone in feeling that we are alone. Tara Brach, a psychotherapist and a meditation teacher, defines trauma as,
“Trauma is when we have encountered an out of control, frightening experience that has disconnected us from all sense of resourcefulness or safety or coping or love”.
This definition of trauma brought me hope because it means they it’s not that we are broken, or how people describe as “I feel like I am a damaged good” but rather your body did what it needed to take at the time to survive the trauma and now you are learning to befriend your body again in a way that brings you self-forgiveness and self compassion.
It’s a completely different way of looking at trauma than we have been conditioned to look at it in the western world by being handed a prescription to mask our deep inner issues of learning to love ourself over again. If we can’t truly feel, we can truly heal.
What stops us from healing from trauma comes from a sense shame. Brene Brown , a Ph.D. researcher, describes shame as a deep sense of unworthiness. We all have the capability to heal from trauma, but shame holds us back from experiencing the love and joy of life that healing allows you to feel safe in experiencing again. Shame keeps us from truly living in our bodies.
When we focus on the trauma that happened to us, rather than finding the tools to feel safe and loved in our body again, we take away the wisdom we can gain from trauma.
To heal from trauma we must also learn to grieve, because we lost apart of ourself through the experience. Once we heal we will never be the same and that is okay. Trauma changes a person and accepting this is what allows you to transform trauma into a gift.
After going to talk therapy for many years I realized that while I was talking about the trauma, I still had never felt safe in my body. I thought by getting my mind involved it would help me feel safe, but actually I put more walls up to protect myself.
My mind became over with thoughts, or the idea I had to hold myself together to survive, and I had to completely crash to realize that in order to heal-not cure-the traumatic events I had experienced, I had to take a holistic approach. Most importantly, I had to re-connect with my heart, with my dreams, and knowing that I was worthy of living a life of joy and inner peace. I had to grieve for myself and what I lost, but I also had to give myself room to look at what I had gained along the way.
It’s important not to compare your trauma with someone else’s trauma such as the death of a loved one, to finding out you have cancer, to an unexpected break up with your partner. The trauma you go through has something deeper to teach you such as learning to give yourself a break, to take care of your health first, to learn to ask for help rather than take everything on alone.
The traumatic event is internalized as an individual experience and the healing and wisdom that comes from it is an individualist experience too. What works for one person, such as meditation or yoga, might not people another person’s cup of tea. Honor your healing path, because your own inner wisdom knows what is right for you.
We are holistic human beings and the more we put pressure on ourself to be “okay” or to feel we have to hold it completely together takes away our humanness. We’re not here to hold it together, we are here to live in community and share our stories of surviving and thriving through trauma so we can continue to heal and know what it means to experience joy and to transcend trauma into wisdom.