We hear a lot about trauma these days and the impacts of trauma on everyone. I think we have all experienced some type of trauma in our lives. I was learning about trauma in a book called “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van der Kolk, MD. I was surprised to find out that two people could experience the very same traumatic event and one person can have immediate problems and the other does not. What is even more interesting is, sometimes the person who had immediate issues related to the traumatic event does not have any long-term issues, and the person who seemed unscathed can suffer for years.
I truly believe that if you can’t feel then you can’t heal. Often, our response to trauma is no response because somehow, we are unconsciously and unknowingly protecting ourselves from experiencing too much emotional pain. We may also have been slowly disconnecting from ourselves over time as we try to cope with situations and circumstances that have no alternatives except to endure.
If we don’t process the traumatic event, or the series of compounding events, Dr. Van Der Kolk tells us that this trauma is stored in our bodies and can manifest as ongoing stress responses in the future. We have all heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is when someone begins to process stored trauma through various difficult, painful, and potentially dangerous symptoms. Stress responses related to unresolved trauma can manifest as depression, anxiety, and other psychological and emotional problems.
Recently, I was having a really horrible day. I was feeling worthless, pathetic, weak and even shameful. Fortunately, I was able to sit with these feelings and observe them. This is a big change for me because just a few years ago I would be reacting rather than observing. It was a very uncomfortable and painful day as I kept trying to view my present state through these feelings. How could things be so bad when just the day before things were going so well?
I had someone who I could trust enough to share these feelings with and what was going on with me which helped me get through the day. The next morning these feelings began to creep back into my emotional state and for some strange reason I got to wondering about the date of the mediation and settlement from my last divorce. I found the settlement offer and it was exactly two years ago from the day before. Upon this realization, the dam broke and all those stored feelings which I did not process (feel) from two years ago came rushing in. I cried, I cussed, I yelled, I trembled…I was a hot mess.
Thankfully, I have learned to let those emotions in, to feel them, to learn from them, and then to let them go. Sometimes, I have to let them go several times.
Our bodies truly store trauma that we can either process now, or suffer the mental, physical, and emotional effects of not processing them. These feelings can come up when we are triggered with similar situations, smells, sights, circumstances, sounds, songs, thoughts, etc. They can also sneak up on us, just like what happened to me.
Yes, we all have experienced trauma in our lives and it’s likely that we have unprocessed stuff that is waiting to come out. It may even be working its way out as you read this blog. Please know that you are not alone. Talk to a trusted friend, or counselor, and share your feelings with them. Sometimes the load is crushing, and we can feel like no one will ever understand what we are going through.
Sometimes we think we deserve what happened to us. Sometimes we feel shame. You are not alone. You did not deserve what happened to you. You are not a bad person. Sometimes shit just happens.
If you have been in a dysfunctional relationship, chances are you have experienced trauma, and if you have a pattern of these types of relationships, you may be struggling with compounded and unresolved trauma. Seek help. Know that you are not alone.
Join The ANTICS Community, read the book, download the free Companion Journal which is my gift to you.
Remember, if you can’t feel, you can’t heal. A healing journey begins with just one step — perhaps Carence and The ANTICS can help you begin your healing journey.
It might be time to try.