Some Things I’ve Learned from Trauma

1. It requires specialist counselling. Although it is essential to talk about what happened, and to have your experienced witnessed by another, a counsellor or therapist needs additional training. They need to know what is normal when you’ve been traumatized, and especially when it comes to managing flashbacks, re-experiencing the trauma, and dissociation.

2. You feel you’re going crazy; you don’t recognize yourself. You fly off the handle at the smallest provocation. You react in scary and unexpected ways; and you no longer live on an even keel.

This is not who you were, or who you want to be.  You feel you’ve lost yourself, and you’ve lost yourself forever.

3. You experience emotions you never felt before; and these feelings can be hard to bring under control. They’re overwhelming, intense and can be hard to dial down. And you never really know “what is going to set you off.”  

4. You feel ashamed and embarrassed at the way that you react, and this further undermines your very low self-esteem … for the trauma has already undermined your self-esteem.

5. So much of what you’re feeling cannot be articulated. Rational thinking is shut down when emotions start to rise. The subconscious mind is driving things, and trying to protect you. You can’t explain to others what is happening to you.

6. There are very few people who will truly understand. They will judge the situation and give you trite advice. Unless you’ve walked this road yourself, then you don’t know what it is like. You don’t understand the terror, the despair and hopelessness.

7. Be careful who you talk to. This is crucial for self-care. If you talk to the wrong person, you’ll only feel much worse. Be hesitant and wise before you risk sharing with others.

8. Other people who have gone through something similar to you are you best supporters (beyond talking to a counsellor). They’ve struggled with these symptoms – all the same thoughts and emotions. They know what it is like, and they can normalize reactions.

9. Feeling safe in our own body, in our environment, and with a few trusted people is a prerequisite for processing the trauma, and being able to recover.

10. Recovery is slow. It’s so much slower than expected. It plays havoc with your sleep, and it can compromise your health. Daily life feels like a minefield; there are triggers everywhere. You think you’re making progress then the past hits you again.

But there is absolutely hope. It won’t be this way forever. One day you will look back, and you will see how much you’ve changed.

25 thoughts on “Some Things I’ve Learned from Trauma

  1. #4. This is right where I am reflecting back on my own behavior. Reading this post helps. It would easy to just say “let it go” but it’s not that easy. I don’t want to revisit that dark destructive place again—I want to remember it happened and why—but not to punish myself. Any thoughts?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think allowing yourself to feel the grief and sorrow – related to the fact that something traumatic caused you to react in unexpected ways – is important. It highlights how awful the situation was for you, and the depth of anguish you experienced as a consequence. You should never have had to experience pain like that. Your reactions are actually normal, understandable, and nothing to be ashamed of, in their context. Other people, in similar situations, will have had almost identical reactions.
      It is part of self-compassion to frame #4 in this way … And you deserve to experience self-compassion, as well as compassion and understanding from others.

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      • Thank you. I appreciate your kind words. The difficulty is knowing that because of my reactions—which I take responsibility for, I am learning better ways to regulate—I caused a traumatic experience for someone else who also never should have had to experience it. And so the cycle of trauma/abuse continued with me. Humbling. Embarrassing. Shameful. It does help to admit my part—I feel more compassion and understanding for the one who caused me pain. Maybe that is how the healing begins💓

        Liked by 1 person

      • We act very differently when we’ve been traumatized. In many ways, it’s not the real you that’s acting at the time. You would never say or do those thing if you were in your normal state of mind.
        But, yes, we still need to take responsibility for the impact those reactions have on others.
        I think self-forgiveness is hard for the person who has caused the trauma (and often we truly never intended to create a trauma response in someone esle). As you say, perhaps it leads to greater understanding of everyone involved in the end, and greater empathy and compassion … which then assists with the healing process.
        These things are so complex and multilayered.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Just now reading this article online and it sure fits…

        “That said, narcissists often exploit themselves as these tragic, wounded souls. If they experienced trauma, they will draw it out to gain your sympathy. They will use this wound to justify their behavior, even when it’s harmful.”
        https://kimsaeed.com/2021/05/06/is-narcissism-a-mental-illness-or-something-more/

        The more I read about trauma and NPD, the more confusing it gets! Am I the narcissist? Yes, I was traumatized growing up and seeing how it’s affected me as an adult in my relationships—sucks. The way I’ve reacted to another’s traumatic—not in their normal state of mind real them hostile behavior…ouch. If their behavior was just that—not in their normal mind—or we could say in ignorance, then that’s sad for us both…we hurt each other all over again when what we both needed was empathy and compassion—loving kindness. An opportunity for healing was lost to us both.
        Or, was the other person intentionally trying to inflict pain—is this truly their ‘normal’ state of mind—NPD and I reacted “normally” out of my mind—doing things that even to think about doing right now—makes me cringe? Yes, as you say—complex and multilayered.

        Thank you for your insightful and thought provoking posts and dialogue! Lots to think about and learn. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    • If you ask if you are a narcissist its highly likely you are not.. that said my therapist always reminds me we are all on the spectrum somewhere, but a toxic narcissist refuses to feel bad about anything they do.. since they see themselves as inherently superior (while hiding their vulnerability at any cost.)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, shame is huge. It can easily take over our life, overwhelm our emotions, and completely cloud and distort our thinking. Thanks so much for your kind words, too. Much appreciated 🙂

      Like

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