I find trauma so interesting, the behaviors it creates. People have learned many responses to trauma; some shove it down, others attempt to erase the memories and some disconnect. Realizing it or not, trauma impacts our everyday lives and touches most behaviors. It can show up in so many ways. It isn’t just the behaviors most discussed like addiction, violence, or weight that might be trauma symptoms. It is expressed in everyday decisions and actions, some with negative consequences and some without.
Since beginning to openly discuss some of my trauma as part of a cathartic release, Mr. Freud, the jury is still out on that one. It brought up more responsive behaviors. First, I felt like I should be ashamed of my trauma. Somehow discussing my trauma is a negative thing I should not be doing. As I expressed myself, I realized this view of myself as damaged and not good enough. By allowing others to see my trauma, my feelings are that they will view me in a negative light. Instead of having compassion and respect for the strength that it takes to openly share such deep parts of the self I had disconnected from, I felt more toxic shame. Like I need to hide these parts of myself and pretend the experiences never happened. Just keep swimming, is what I say.
This response is two-part, one is what trauma taught me in my experience and how I internalized what that must mean about me, and the other is how society reacts. My writing is an attempt for me to release some very deep and intense anger. My anger is multilayered, and I observe the struggle created within my daily life. The lack of accountability for others’ actions and within that is the reversal of toxic shame onto me. I am tired of how trauma is processed and perceived by society in general, especially for women. I can think of many examples of women whose lives were destroyed, yet for the men who took advantage of them, they never experienced their actions’ ill effects. Society does not seem equipped to deal with trauma. There are these automatic responses we view as expected and that no longer sits well with me.
After writing yesterday’s blog, I did get to discuss a few things with my sister. Honestly, I did not realize she read my blog or that anyone really reads it, for that matter. I rarely receive feedback, which is probably a good thing because I am so insecure, always trying to measure up. Mind you; we haven’t spoken in a few years, interesting that the blog triggered a response. But after talking, we came to an agreement. My sister wants to repress and erase all memories of her childhood. This response is how she has chosen to deal with it, and I respect that. However, for me, I want to understand why I have particular behaviors. I asked her, don’t you wonder why we have such a problematic relationship? How was this created? Or why you have this specific behavior and belief that is impacting your relationships? I desire to understand myself and make the changes to my actions to create the life I desire, which is one of compassion and deep connection. To do that, I have to reframe how I look at trauma and revisit what I once detached and erased from my mind.
Erasing these things or removing these experiences from our minds, often accompanied by stating I cannot change the past, does nothing for my current situation. With this approach, we stay in our current relationship dynamics and struggle with the same issues over and over in a repetitive cycle. Only by courageously looking at and reframing our experiences can one bring awareness and a depth of understanding, creating a space for possible change. For so many years, I was numb, numb from disassociating as my primary coping mechanism. And I found ways to bolster that disassociation and escape. After years of being fully present and allowing myself the space to feel, I feel everything and very intensely. I am learning to work through these emotions and to understand each one without judgment. I step back and observe how connected experiences are to my behaviors and relationships. I choose something new, no longer accepting a particular experience as a necessity. I’m reminded of the saying “it is what it is,” IS IT?
My feelings of being overwhelmed are beginning to dissipate as I pull the layers back and take a deeper dive with radical authenticity and honesty. I am learning to observe with compassion, looking at each piece and part of me with new eyes. I deserve to be at peace; I deserve connection and to experience fulfillment. And while I have created those things in my life with my husband and immediate family, I feel there is so much more. I am in gratitude for all I have and recognize I have only accumulated this through my willingness to take a more in-depth look at myself and my beliefs. Even with all this active awareness, I still struggle with confidence and self-esteem issues. These issues can only shift when I understand where they stem from and how to shift them. Because while awareness is the key, it is not quite enough to bring change.
I am still deciding what and who I want to be when I grow up. It is time to build my legacy. In part, I want to look at the social constructs that keep society locked into particular ways of thinking and behaving. Through my work here, I get to explore, and I certainly am an explorer.