A Few Things I’ve Learned From Trauma

This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.” – Catherine Woodiwiss

Here are a few things I’ve learned about trauma:

1. Trauma upends everything. It undermines your whole reality. Everything is open to question now.

2. Life doesn’t go back to the way it was before – and neither do you.

3. Trauma is disfiguring. At least for a while, it turns you into someone you do not recognize. You lose your spark and sparkle. You withdraw from life. You experience the symptoms of PTSD. You feel you’re going crazy. That you’re losing your mind.

4. Suffering alone can feel unbearable; but it’s hard to find people who’ll be there for you. It’s too big and scary for most people to handle – so people don’t show up when you’d expect them to. This adds to the grief, and the sense of isolation.

Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.” – Catherine Woodiwiss

5. The journey to recovery is a wilderness journey. It has seasons. It is long. And it’s unpredictable.

6. You experience insatiable anxiety. Why would this surprise us? Our trust has been destroyed, and our sense of peace and safety’s been completely undermined. We can’t let down our guard. We must protect ourselves.   

7. Small gestures of love go a long, long way. Unexpected acts of kindness can almost break our hearts. They’re a powerful healing balm – for they show that someone cares.

8. Working through a trauma turns you into a survivor. No, you might not feel you’re stronger for a long time. But you develop inner strength and a new resilience.  Hold onto that truth when you need a life line.

36 thoughts on “A Few Things I’ve Learned From Trauma

  1. #4 is a real eye-opener for me. One’s personal trauma may be too much for others to handle. Perhaps they care, but just can’t bear to share our particular burden. Don’t blame them; trauma can be overwhelming for everyone who gets anywhere near it. Like the quote says, some difficult life experiences almost kill you, and that can make people stranger before they get stronger.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, it can be lonely when you’re in the midst of it and feel completely cut off and abandoned. But very few people can handle trauma – it isn’t necessarily personal. Often they care but are at a total loss. Hence, they pull back.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. This is good information. It’s taken me years to understand that what I have been experiencing is the trauma from my past experiences. Once I understood this and got help life is getting better each day.😊

    Liked by 4 people

  3. So much truth. Going through repeated trauma in my life has changed me and so many relationships. Recovery is a process where I’ve learned to manage the triggers; learned the importance of self care. It’s good to know others understand the impact of trauma.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just wow. Outstanding, incredible post. Thank you. The quotes, too, are just remarkable.
    Trauma changes absolutely everything, how can it not?
    And for those of us that are chronically ill, the traumas often are a continual process.
    I live by the words my Therapist gave me: you cannot control what happens, you can only control how you respond to what happens…..
    Easier said than done, of course. But it at least gave me hope that I still have one smidge of control left in all this.
    Thanks for this. I loved it.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. #4 is true – your circle of friends does seem to shrink, but the ones who remain are true friends, indeed. When I was temporarily unable to speak, I was surprised at which of my acquaintances were there for me and patient enough to sit and wait for me to write out my thoughts and feelings. I discovered some jewels that many people overlook. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you had those kinds of people in your life. People who are willing to give you all the time you need to communicate through writing when you can’t speak …. That really sends a message of genuine love, caring and respect. What a gift …

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt and knew every word of this to be true. Since age 4, with some beautiful oasis moments, my life has been a desert storm of trauma. It sands us down to a nub sometimes, and we are always changed. Yet that is life for almost everyone. It is good to find others who understand. Thank you. ♥.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing from your personal experience (so beautifully expressed as well.) It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. As you say, many people experience trauma- trauma we know nothing about. Hearing how it has changed their lives can help us to feel a bit less alone. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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