Trauma affects us all a little bit differently. For instance, if a group of four are in a near death car accident, they will each come out with a different perspective, different triggers and a different level of trauma (The Body Keeps Score). The driver might have severe anxiety resulting in an inability to drive. The front passenger might be in therapy to work through triggers. As for the back seat passengers, one might not be affected at all, and the other may be slightly affected, yet not quite as acute as the other two passengers.
I use this analogy often to remind myself that my trauma is my own. It’s my experience not to be compared to anyone else’s.
We are all so unique in our trauma and yet similar in the experience
In other words, we are never alone in the general traumatic experiences. There are always others who can empathize with abuse victims, near death experiences, sexual trauma, losing a loved one… To identify as part of one of these groups is to also acknowledge others have gone through a shared experience. Your reaction, though, such as your triggers, are completely unique to you.
I am learning a lot about how trauma affects a person through Mr. Sexy’s journey over the past two years. He began working with a counselor after taking himself to the ER because of an irregular heart beat and shortness of breath. When the doctors had nothing to offer other than recommending less stress, Mr. Sexy realized he needs to take action.
To begin, counseling seemed a bit silly to him because there was nothing productive coming out of those hours (at least, that’s what his traumatized brain believed). For every issue the counselor would bring up, Mr. Sexy already knew the problem and had a plan of action to fix it. Again, I believe this was his trauma talking.
He actually almost quit counseling, feeling it was a waste of time for him and a great tool for others. But then they started to finally unpack his triggers… The anger. The shaming self talk that brought tears to even the counselor’s eyes.
Thus, the hard work of beginning to heal from his trauma from over 20 years ago began.
It turns out Mr. Sexy has severe PTSD from abuse in his previous marriage and possibly some triggers from childhood
Mr. Sexy now has a trauma tool kit, of sorts. The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk is at the top of his list. It’s fascinating to me what Mr. Sexy shares as he reads through what is basically a dense textbook, overflowing with valuable information. Every chapter brings something new to the surface that will help him, me or our kids.
What most people don’t realize about our family is that we have two traumatized kids we are raising. Some reading this might acknowledge the current trauma period our family is walking through. That isn’t the case, though. My kids are traumatized from years ago. As their mom, I often fight off the overwhelm of how to help them now. Today. For their future.
The most encouraging thing I have learned about raising traumatized kids is that L-O-V-E can fix the brokenness
So this your permission to love the heck out of your kids regardless of any gross behaviors, deviancies or being just plain annoying. You are your child’s biggest advocate. If this subject is hitting you in those vulnerable, squishy places, then please grab a copy of this book. Your BEST tool is ALWAYS arming yourself with knowledge.
Many of us are likely walking around completely traumatized by something that happened recently or long ago, and we have no idea we are stuck on a hamster wheel leading to more trauma
Early in my relationship with Mr. Sexy, I would make fun of him for, in my mind, over reacting to normal news. Here’s what I mean: He picks me up from class and I excitedly start sharing details about my day. I love a mystery, so to share the news that I had a pop quiz that day, I say, “Guess what?” Mr. Sexy’s full attention is now on me with big eyes, raised eyebrows and a gasp.
At first, this was cute and a little goofy. A charming quirk, if you will. The thing is, he reacted this way all the time. Any type of unexpected news (silly unexpected news like a text from a friend telling me she is curious about having a Pure Romance party) would result in some sort of gasp or look of concern. EVERY TIME.
It might sound silly to complain about this. It might sound totally mean to read how I gave him a hard time. I get it. It was just so weird! He eventually stopped doing this, which I assume is because I brought it to his attention time and time again. Though now I believe he only stopped showing me his reactions. It took me all the way into 2021 to see his “over reactions” to mundane life is/was part of his trauma talking.
We are all walking around with trauma to some degree. Today I choose to view the people around me with the sense of love and an understanding that I don’t know what I don’t know.
Will you join me?
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Email Jessica B. your questions: Jessica@jessicaleighbiles.com