Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Trauma overwhelms listeners as much as speakers … and talking about painful events doesn’t necessarily establish community – often quite the contrary. Families and organizations may reject members who air their dirty laundry; friends and family can lose patience with people who get stuck in their grief or hurt. This is one reason why trauma victims often withdraw and why their stories become rote narratives, edited in a form least likely to provoke rejection.”

Is this, perhaps, something you relate to as well?

Chelsea had always been a very private person. She was open, warm and friendly in most social situations. But no-one really knew what was happening in her life. To outward appearances, it looked like things were fine. 

Then, out of the blue, Chelsea’s world was blown apart – when she learned that her husband had a hidden secret life. Dating apps, pornography, webcams, and so on.

Who do you talk to when you learn something like that?

If truth be told …. It wasn’t easy. But occasionally she tried. She’d introduce the subject in a vague, non-threatening way, and try to share a little of what things had been like.

But on the whole, it was disastrous. It only made things worse. Her close friends shut her down. It made them feel uncomfortable. They didn’t want to hear this. No, they didn’t want to know.

Apart from one young mother she had met at the school gate. Her husband had walked out on her, and left her with two kids. They weren’t really close, but they would always wave and chat.  Sometimes they’d grab a coffee. Half an hour. No more than that. And it was comforting to know that someone understood.

She didn’t have to say much. Words can be superfluous. But kindness is a language that communicates so much.

The lies and the betrayal had left Chelsea traumatized. Her life had changed forever. It was ordinary no more. The grief was overwhelming. Way too much to bear alone. She often felt so desperate. How she’d love to be consoled.

Most people cannot handle pain. It feels too threatening. It leaves them feeling vulnerable. They have to look away.

This mother knew what it was like.

That lifeline was enough.

It helped Chelsea to heal. It got her through the toughest times.

The validation she received helped her to face the day.

This woman was a gift. Her presence transformed Chelsea’s life.         

14 thoughts on “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

  1. Very true. Talking about the difficult things of life can put people off or maybe traumatize them as well?

    You don’t need someone who understand fully what you have been through but someone who will listen. Just a little bit is enough to feel accepted.

    I think often what I should answer when people ask me how I’m doing the casual way. Or how my mum is. I’ve learned to answer short and vague. But what to tell if you feel that someone really cares? The whole story can blow them off but I find it also difficult to tell a part of it.

    To return to your post, one person can really make the difference. I can imagine that those coffees they drunk together were precious moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, some can be traumatized when they hear something very traumatic, especially if they have a close relationship with us. Others simply can’t related because it’s too far from their experience. Just too alien for them to understand. Others feel threatened and vulnerable so they close their ears to stop themselves from feeling anxious. There are so many different reasons!
      I can definitely see why you resort to a short vague answer when people ask you about your mum. It’s likely the wiset approach.
      But, yes, it is crucial that we’re able to find someone who seems to simply get it, and is there for us – in a quiet and gentle way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like I’m this for a couple friends and yes, sometimes their emotions can be intense. Yet not me but Messiah within me, I will all things. Praying for patience to continue being a sister. This was a great post to not only let me inside the heart of the broken, but to remind me of my own dark periods of brokenness too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. It’s so wonderful that you can be this for a couple of friends. You may well be their only lifeline. I think when we have suffered and have experienced quiet compassion and understanding from someone who cared about our suffering, then we want to do that for others too. I pray that God will strengthen you … and if He’s called you to this, then He will. Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, this is truly relatable. It is a tremendous gift to both give and receive caring validation with another person. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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