And here it is, once again
ready to show up every now and then.
You stare it until your eyes hurt
You hold it in until your heart hurts
And then you let it flow…
Let it chip away parts of you
That you reconnect and rebuild every now and then.
Yet, it keeps showing up unannounced
Every now and then…
It’s a small word that carries the weight of an entire existence.
Do I need to say more? Explain? Elaborate?
What do I really write about it?
Perhaps it’s not a mere subjective experience; it can wreck our world in ways that even we don’t realise. It takes away the possibility of what could have been and leaves us with what is. Somehow, we learn to pick up the pieces and do something with them.
Yes, our own trauma teaches us a lot. And these aren’t the lessons we really want. But we’re not given a choice; we have to learn them. That’s the cross we have to bear.
And what is life for anyone who has been through trauma or is struggling to make sense of any kind of trauma? No one understands. No one. How can someone get inside our mind, body, and experience and withstand the pain and anguish that we’ve gone through?
No matter how many words we string together to express and explain our stories, hurts, and pain, it’s just not enough, is it?
Trauma pushes us into a pit that is always dark, cold, and lonely. Yes, there is sunshine—sometimes—but we learn to crawl in and out of it as we go along, and somehow, the coldness and loneliness always stay.
No one—other than the person who has gone through trauma and felt it in every cell of their body—can understand the consequences. It’s not enough, but it’s a little something to hold onto.
For the rest of the world, trauma is just a word, and the only way they know how to deal with it is to dismiss, trivialize, or walk away.
There are some things that only those who have gone through trauma will understand and feel:
1. You feel no one really gets you. No matter how much anyone says they do, only you know what you have felt and continue to feel. Yes, when someone offers you comfort, understanding, empathy, and the space to truly be heard and held, it might enable you to heal bit by bit. However, no one can reach into the depths of your soul and feel your pain.
2. Loneliness always finds its way to you. You are doing your work, learning to support yourself, setting boundaries, creating healthier relationships, and healing yourself each and every moment. Yet, there will be times when you might feel gripped by this sudden emptiness and loneliness that even you won’t understand. Even when things are seemingly fine, something inside of you will continue to hurt.
3. You don’t always believe that people can be genuinely supportive or want to be there for you without wanting anything in return. Trauma makes you lose faith in people and general goodness, and it might take a long time before you can find your way into the world with an open heart that’s willing to trust someone and take that chance.
4. Your body takes on the role of your protector and sometimes finds it hard to let go of that role. It scans the environment for any threat cues and wants to keep you safe at all times by constantly swinging between fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. As a result, your body might make you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted most of the times.
5. You struggle to express yourself. No matter how much you want to share and let your emotions out, you might end up keeping it all in because it seems easier than giving your pain and anguish a voice.
6. You find it difficult to ask for help. When you do, it hurts you from within until and unless you find a way to pay the person back since your trauma has taught you that in order to be safe, you need to please the world. You need to give it something in return so that it will let you survive.
7. You are always looking for someone to be your safe haven. You want someone to be your shelter, even when you’re trying to be that for your own self. Finding safety in someone makes you feel that your existence matters.
8. Even though you continue to learn the lessons that keep coming your way, a part of you keeps wondering how your life would have been different.
The list is long. Trauma is not just a word that summarizes what did or didn’t happen; it embodies the whole essence of our existence.
Sometimes, this word alone can be the heaviest thing we carry within—and with—us.
“The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.” ~ Peter A. Levine