When most people think of the word “trauma”, they conjure images of dramatic events…bombs, car accidents, death, etc. The reality is that trauma is any event or series of events that leaves an individual with a negative sense of self…sound simple enough? Maybe not…but when you experience it, you know it.
The truth is that trauma is relative. Meaning that what may be “traumatic” to one person may be of little consequence to another. Trauma is generally categorized into two types, “T” and “t”. “T”s are easy to identify. These are events like the aforementioned bombs, car accidents, deaths, etc. These are the things that we recognize and accept as “traumatic”. What may feel arbitrary and sometimes confusing, are the “t” traumas. These are events that, in and of themselves, are not generally significant; however, repeated over time, they become traumatic. They are things like bullying, neglect, and other repeated “jabs” that eventually have the same impact as a “T” trauma.
What this means is that trauma cannot be defined as an event as much as it can be understood by the impact it has on the individual. Trauma lives actively in the brain, causing present reactions to past events. It creates a visceral/body feeling (often drawing from all 5 senses) when thoughts of the event(s) are engaged. This visceral feeling can be triggered by any of the 5 senses and, suddenly, the individual is “taken back” to the event.
Re-experiencing trauma is certainly not an event that most people enjoy going through and the tendency is to avoid it at all costs. The primary way to avoid re-experiencing the trauma is to simply avoid people, places, events, or any other method of triggering the memory. For some people, this coping mechanism is enough and they feel they are able to move forward in a healthy manner. For most, this is not always possible and this coping mechanism, as well as the trauma, can greatly have a negative impact on the quality of an individual’s life. Additionally, there may also be times where an individual has what appears to be an overreaction to an ordinary situation. This is an uncomfortable way to live, and is not a necessary. Experiencing trauma is a part of living, being stuck in trauma does not have to be.
Let us help you get unstuck. Together we can identify what is holding you down and give you the tools to move forward in your life. What are you waiting for? You next chapter begins now!