“Trauma is the unthinkable. The unbelievable. The unbearable. The unspeakable.”
Trauma is extremely hard to talk about. And this burden is intensified by lies that we believe. These include the lies of shame, of fear, and isolation.
1. The lie of SHAME – This is tied to the belief that there’s something wrong with us. That there’s something very wrong at the core of who we are.
We become convinced that we can’t talk about a trauma.
This lie result in us adopting a Jekyll and Hyde existence where we appear to be ‘one way’ in front of the world … whilst carrying a painful secret inside. A secret we feel we have to hide from the world.
Because no-one can ever know the painful truth, we work hard on maintaining our public façade, and we live with the dread of being “discovered”.
We are absolutely terrified that someone will find out – and then gossip about us, and spread painful lies.
We are absolutely sure that if others find out they rush to will rush to spread gossip, trash our name.
We fear being judged, humiliated, and rejected.
We think we won’t be able to bear the shame ofbeing judged, humiliated and ostracized.
It is important to find someone who is safe to talk to. Some who will listen, and understand. Someone who will witness both our story, and our suffering, with kindness, compassion and true empathy.
When shame is brought into the light, it slowly starts to fade and dissipate.
We start to see that lies we are believing are just that: they are lies with no basis in reality.
We start to understand that this isn’t about us. We are innocent victims who have suffered needlessly.
We slowly start to discover – and begin to believe – that others truly care about our suffering and our grief.
2. The lie of FEAR – which breeds a lifestyle of fear.
We fear being triggered (often unexpectedly).
We fear reliving painful memories from the past.
We fear the emotions this might stir up in us. Emotions which are painful, negative, intense, often overwhelming, and hard to control.
We fear the reactions other people might have (to reactions which seem crazy, over-the-top, an inappropriate to the situation we are in.)
Although the fear persists, the trauma is now over. It’s located in the past … And we’re living in the present.
This means that it is safe to bring our fears into the light.
As we find the strength to do this, we learn that we survive.
And, eventually, we even start to feel a little better. We find they haunt us less, and they lose some of their power.
That is, we need to face our fears if we’re to overcome our fears.
3. The lie of ISOLATION, and bearing this alone.
This is summed well in the following statement: “You feel you must keep it a secret and so you don’t share. Because you don’t share, there is no validation or conversation of others who have experienced trauma. Because you don’t hear about others, you feel alone. Because you feel alone, you keep it secret. This cycle is vicious. It is a cycle that cultivates isolation.” – Nicole Kauffman
This can lead to burnout and to PTSD. It can also lead us to withdrawal from life.
Refuse to believe the lie that’s taken root: that there’s no-one anywhere who will understand or care.
Refuse to believe that you must do this alone, and there’s no one anywhere who’s gone through what you’ve gone through.
Make the decision to reach out for support. You don’t have to share everything with everyone you know – but try to find someone who’s walked this road you’re on.
Start by taking baby steps, and see how you get on. You can take this at your pace, and can choose how much you’ll share.