When did trauma become the cool thing? Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that people have trauma, but trauma is a horrible thing. Trauma is not something that you want wish upon your worst enemy. Most people have had some sort of trauma in their life and it’s all relative. I was in a pretty bad custody battle as a child. I lived in a car with my mom. My parents had a tug-o-war over me in the streets. I was kidnapped by my mom and brought to live in a church commune…. you know… a cult. These things can be pretty traumatic, but they all ended. Eventually these things stopped, and my dad got total custody and only allowed my mom to visit when he was around.
I had an older brother… on occasion he liked to kick the crap out of me. On occasion we played fanciful games together and had a great time. When we got to our teen years he fought with everyone a lot and ended up moving out at 17. I was 14. I remember having the guidance counselor at school try to talk to me about it. How was it affecting me? What could she do to help? That was easy, I was sad. I missed him, but there was nothing to be done until he came back. It was a little over a year before we heard from him again. I remember answering the phone when he called and being overwhelmed with emotions.
I dated jerk guys and nice guys. I had friendships fall apart and new one’s spring out of nowhere. I was unemployed, underemployed and worked too many jobs to count. My best friend became an alcoholic and I had to help her ex take care of their kids I lost my Grams and got married and divorced… and this was all in my 20s. (well, divorced in my early 30s)
By my mid-30s I felt like I was getting my s**t together. I was dating a great guy. We were talking about starting a family. I had a great job in an industry that I loved…. what could go wrong? Well, everything. By the end of my 30s I had found out that my mom, who I hadn’t heard from in years, was dead. I had my baby boy, whom I love more than anything in the multiverse, but his father had relapsed into a spiraling drug induced state… and when I was 39, I woke up one morning to find my father had died in his sleep. Eight months later his longtime girlfriend died as well… on my birthday, and a little over a month later, 2 days before Christmas, on my nephew’s birthday… I watched my dog get hit by a car. Since then, I went through a long custody battle of my own with my son’s father that culminated in him losing his battle with that said addiction… thankfully it was a few years later.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I got my son a therapist. Losing his Papa and then the on again off again of his Da who finally died he was having some behavioral issues in school and a good healthy case of separation anxiety whenever he left my side. I call it healthy, because that’s what it was. It was his way of working out the things that he needed to work through.
I remember talking to his therapist about everything and her saying something along the lines of, “You’ve been through a lot, but unlike other people they aren’t things that you do that cause the problems. It’s things that just happen to you”. And she was right. The school councilor back in the day wanted to know how to help me. But there was nothing that could be done. My pain hadn’t come from anything that I did. It came from something that happened to me. My parents dying. My son’s father dying. Problems with exes, these were all the results of other people’s actions. Some people would find that disheartening. Some people would look at their trauma and their “victim status” as a reflection if not an identity of themselves. They would feel as if the world was against them and hold onto that trauma like an award that was given to them to prove how special they were.
I don’t see trauma in that way. I certainly don’t see bad things that happen to me as a reflection of me at all. I didn’t cause my parents to divorce, or my brother to leave, or my son’s father to do drugs, or my parents to die. These are things that other people have done that affect me but does in no way embody me. I am who I am despite all of these things happening around me and to me. I am who I am because of all of the things that happen around me and to me. It doesn’t do anyone any good to create a persona of trauma and hold onto it so tightly that it drowns you.
Trauma happens to everyone. I have been through my share, but it is nothing compared to what others have been though and its way more than some can imagine. Letting it dictate my life only lets the trauma and those perpetrating that trauma on you win. I’m not saying it’s easy to let it go. I’m saying its necessary if you want to move forward with your life. Somewhere along the line in our society it because desirable to be damaged. To prove that you have it worse than others. It gives you an excuse to not try, not do, not be…. everything that you can be because someone else broke you.
Bad things happened to you. I’m sorry. I truly am. But unless you want to live the rest of your life miserable and giving your power over to those that hurt you then you need to stand up and take your power back. You need to forgive those who caused you pain… and let go of what’s been drowning you.