The uninvited happened this week. Even though I did not witness it first hand, I felt the horror, the pain and the relief for just a moment.
A man jumped from the 5th or 7th floor of an office building. The screams were heard and the rumour spread quickly, which was soon confirmed by factual evidence. A body, still alive down below. The reason unknown. The horror unfolding before many unbelieving eyes, trying to make sense of what just happened.
The day after a lady simply said to me:
“We do not know what people are carrying!”
And it’s so true. We do not know. Our lives are so busy with work and deadlines, family responsibilities, friends losing their jobs and others declaring bankruptcy. Everyone just trying their best to get by. Everyone just trying to live the life we have, trying to keep moving forward. Until it happens. Unexpectedly. Uninvited.
Without your permisssion, it writes a whole new chapter in your book. It epitomizes the very things you don’t like about yourself. It sometimes even makes you think you are a different person. It grips your heart and mind and becomes the one nightmare you cannot wake up from. It becomes a critical turning point in your life.
Initially this is what trauma does to you:
T – Threatens your existence
R – Reacts inappropriately
A – Anaethetises your brain
U – Undermines your ability
M – Maims your response
A – Accentuates the negative
The event itself sometimes takes a while for it to actually hit home. Once all the adrenaline starts to slow down in your body, only then does reality set in and the facts begin to come to life. Blurry at first and totally mixed up for a while. One’s existence begins to feel threatened because your initial reaction of fight or flight is not what you expected of yourself and somehow your entire world becomes a place of inappropriate reactions and outbursts in any small circumstance. Unable to understand why. Emotionally numbed with feelings of being utterly incapable of just living. Nothing makes sense. It all appears to be out of control. And then we start asking the most famous question of all time: ‘Why?’
Fourteen years ago I experienced a traumatic event that turned my life upside down for 3 long years. All the above played out, in and out of sequence, over and over again, leaving me feeling totally and utterly helpless. One day I will share my story, but for now I just want to say that trauma can be turned around into something positive and life giving. I am a living testimony to that.
Even though it was a long time ago, when a traumatic situation occurs often it is normal for one to have flashbacks or simply feel the horror, pain and relief (as I have found) for just a moment. These moments shouldn’t be ignored. They are all part of the healing journey and process which really does not end at any given time. It’s what we do with it that determines our way forward.
This is what I learnt:
- One cannot compare traumas at any given time, ever! Each and every person is in a totally different state of mind and level of emotional maturity. Comparing will not do you any good.
- Some things may always be black or white, but there is also a bit of gray. This is sometimes a hard one to grasp and to be honest, I only managed to see this truth when I was working through my trauma. The idea is to just accept it, don’t fight it. We don’t need to know all the answers right now!
- Being a hero comes at a cost even when unintentional. It was a ‘position’ you were unanimously placed in when you were looking out for those around you. And it costs more than anyone will ever know or understand.
- The last point is simply this: One cannot get over a traumatic situation, but one can certainly get through it. It takes time and perseverance and each new day does get easier.
I honestly dont think anyone is exempt from experiencing trauma. And I’m in no way dismissing the rough, unbearable journey one goes through. It is extremely hard. I do however, believe that it can be turned around for great purposes if you allow it to. Maybe we could start to see trauma in a new light (#when you ready).
Something like this:
T – Transforms our lives
R – Remedies our complacency
A – Affirms our ability
U – Unshaken in understanding
M – Masters of meaning
A – Authentic
All the above can be powerful and positive responses to the initial trauma reaction. Be authentic, be true to yourself. Embrace an awareness that we can control many aspects of our lives despite how difficult it may be. Maybe this could change our world as we know it!