“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill
For some time now I’ve been toying with writing about the topic and my experience with trauma. And I’ve hesitated for a number of years because, quite frankly, I’m sick of my story. I have grown tired of it and to write about it seems self absorbed. However, in recent weeks I’ve been getting in touch with some things that have gone on that were blindspots to me. So once again, I’m going to tell my story in a little bit different way and with a different conclusion. Hopefully what I share may be of assistance to someone – maybe even you.
(Caveat: At the end of this post is political message of sorts. So if you don’t want to read further, it’s perfectly okay.)
I’m 25 years out from my “traumatic” event – the life-altering automobile accident that permanently injured/disabled my husband and also permanently “injured” me. I’ve written before in prior posts about how at first in this situation the natural reaction was to put full attention on my husband, Mike and son, Taylor. Hey – I’m a woman. It’s what I do. In my mind, I had no time to be injured. And as time moved on I slowly began to realize that something wasn’t right. Eventually I had the “aha” that I was also injured. Yet I remained “all in” for the survival of this phase not knowing how long this survival mode would continue. To this day and to a small extent. I’m still in survival mode.
And it has occurred to me recently that living in that survival mode over an extended period of time causes damage. You might call it an extended trauma. Certainly my husband’ accident, traumatic brain injury and subsequent disability was dynamic in acute terms. And over time, it became less dynamic settling into what some term “new normal”. In my case, this new normal psyche made lots of small shifts and eventually transitioned life into what became simply normal. It was no longer new; it was what was so and I slowly forgot what life was like before.
During this phase, the acute trauma that I experienced shape shifted into something more subtle. It didn’t go away. It simply took on a different look and feel. Today, the trauma I live “next” to likes to hide out in hidden pockets of my body/mind. To this day, when I least expect it, it comes out to visit. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of “work” on myself. And had I not done this work (spiritual deep dive) I don’t know where we’d be. The “work” has been my lifeline. It has allowed me to live with the trauma and for the most part not identify with it. It’s there and I’m here. I no longer wonder, “will this ever end”? This is life now and tomorrow is always a new day.
Post Note: What brought this up for me has been the national #MeToo movement. All the women who have come forward and particularly during these past few weeks with the recent Supreme Court nominee have made it clear to me how we hold onto trauma. We remain in a state of survival. It often takes an “event” to choose to address it once and for all.
In taking a stand and speaking up, these women are looking their respective traumas in the face and saying, “No More!”. “Some” may think their public admissions are political. I can’t speak to that but what I can say is this is a time for us as a nation to directly face the discordant music of these secretive undercurrents of abuse that run amock throughout the central nervous system of this country’s political and business structures. The cavalier and condescending treatment of anyone who has been traumatized in this manner, no matter how long ago it happened, is nothing short of cruel and inhumane. Time to face it head on and transform this – sit down and listen.
I salute all those who have put their souls, reputations and lives on the line to speak out. While my trauma is not of this nature, I do have some sense of where they live. I salute their courage and strength. #MeToo