NOTE: the quotations for this piece are taken from Healing Trauma by Peter Levine
"Trauma is the most avoided, ignored, denied, misunderstood, and untreated cause of human suffering". It is the "often debilitating symptoms that many people suffer from in the aftermath of PERCEIVED life-threatening experiences....it is true that all traumatic events are stressful, all stressful events are not traumatic." Actually, as more has been learned about how we operate, it has become clear that the event isn't what defines stress, but our reaction to the event defines it.
"The effects of unresolved trauma can be devastating. It can affect our habits and outlook on life, leading to addictions and poor decision making. It can take a toll on our family life and interpersonal relationships. It can trigger real physical pain, symptoms and disease. And it can lead to a range of self-destructive behaviors. But trauma doesn't have to be a life sentence."
In some cases, the response to trauma may not show up for years. Trauma, contrary to common thought, does not have to be one big event....but, can be a series of smaller, less obvious events. I always liken it to termites eating at the foundation...the effect may not be known until the house becomes less stable. I remember reading an account several years ago of a woman who had been molested. She had pushed the memory of her experience away into the shadow. It re-emerged in a startling way as she was nursing her newborn baby. The unconscious does it's best to protect us...and for that reason, it can be sneaky and if it erupts into consciousness, it can be a big surprise.
"...trauma is a loss of connection....to ourselves, to our bodies, to our families, to others and to the world around us. ...there are hidden effects to trauma....we may not feel quite right," It may be a "gradual loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, feelings of well-being and connection to life. Our choices become limited as we avoid certain feelings, people, situations, and places." This can result in "gradual constrictions of freedom, loss of vitality and potential for the fulfillment of our dreams".
Baffling physical symptoms can be the result of trauma that happened many years before. The places the body holds stress becomes the vulnerable part of us and eventually, over time, can result in one or more physical symptoms. We all know about how ulcers are often the result of unattended stress. Life style changes are very often called for and sometimes taking a pill is easier and less threatening than making the difficult decision to make a difficult change.
If you relate to any of the above, just know that healing trauma is very possible. It takes time, commitment and a good guide to walk with you through the experiences, memories and feelings to the other side where the symptoms can be reversed, where the sun can be shining and life potential feels within reach.