Professional Therapist & Counselor Team - New Leaf Counseling Group, LLC - Charlotte, NC
Trauma is, at the most basic level, the destruction of our known worlds. It turns steady ground into a void, taking all that we have known and believed and wiping it away. Whatever the traumatic event (or traumatic period), the effect is a break down - all the way from our daily routines to our spirits. It is a tsunami. A devastating forest fire. A brutal and malicious violation of the person we knew ourselves to be and how safe we feel in The World.
In the wake of trauma comes questions:
1) What is left of me?
2) Why did this happen to me?
3) How could any human being be so fundamentally cruel or evil to do these things?
4) Where do I go from here and am I strong enough?
5) Who will love me, knowing how broken I am?
6) What is my life worth?
7) Why am I so alone?
These questions are also paired with the signs and symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and many other remnants of trauma.
These symptoms - with or without trauma - are made significantly worse by isolation. To be alone, in our earliest societies, was the worst form of punishment. Being cast out of society meant DEATH. It still does, in so many ways. When humans are alone, we suffer greatly.
Human beings are deeply interdependent. We all begin our physical lives in helpless infancy. We have all been utterly dependent, nurtured into being to become who we are both physically and spiritually. Even as adults, we are all still profoundly dependent on the web of relationships with other Humans and with the Earth that supports us. None of us are truly solitary.
This is not to say that we are always raised well, or with kindness. Our dependency can be used against us. We might hate that we were vulnerable or "needy" at different points in our lives. After all, maybe our neediness invited the monster of trauma. Sometimes it might seem far easier not to have human connection:
“I would rather be alone. Nobody would ever be able to hurt me again. I will lock up every part of me that feels to protect myself, then I will be safe. If I cut myself off, I also won’t be a burden.”
When it comes to healing trauma, humans need other humans. Humans need other humans to flourish. You can lock your feelings away or bury them underground or insist that you will be alone forever, but you will not be living your life as a fully functioning Human Being. You will safe from being physically harmed by others, but also NUMB, disconnected, unseen, and unknown - untouched by a web of relationships that Human Beings are designed to function within.
Relationships are hard at times and caring for each other can be messy business. But this is how we find our way back to meaning.
Trauma takes away meaning. It can demolish who we see ourselves to be.
I was in love, and the person I loved abused me and betrayed my trust. I was able-bodied, but a car crash changed my body.
How many different ways can our lives change without warning? It can take a second, or last years, but there is no escaping the fire. As Viktor Frankl said, “that which gives light must endure burning.” But who would raise their hand to suffer?
If you are on the other side of trauma, you have choices. You will never be as you once were. You will carry scars for the rest of your life. But will you reclaim Self as you re-enter the inter-connectedness of our shared life as Human Beings?
Will you seek the web of relationships without which we cannot survive, and which it is our duty to continue? It is not just others caring for you that makes the difference when healing trauma, but also you caring for others - as well as Self. The path back from trauma is hard, but being alone and safe - while also numb - is a kind of living death.
We are all so very fragile here on Earth, and so very precious. We have only so much time.
We need each other. As much as you need to be a part of a community, that community needs YOU. Each individual has different skills and strengths, and if trauma is a fire, then perhaps it has transformed you and burned away the unessential.
You carry something that no one else on this earth does - gifts that no one else has, words that no one else has spoken, or written. You matter. Even if you can’t believe that right now, it’s important to remember.
So if you’re reading this and you feel alone, so very alone but have a deep longing for touch, for the safety of someone to trust, know that you are meant for COMMUNITY! Find an animal to touch; their purfect being is so very soothing. Call a hotline, or a friend you trust. B