“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.