I’ve seen an influx of posts circulating social media lately spreading a similar message: your trauma didn’t make you stronger, you made yourself stronger. Or something along those lines. And I realize the point they are trying to make – you are your strength not the hurt that forced you to be strong. In some respects, I agree.
But I also don’t.
Trauma comes to us in many shapes and forms. It can be ghastly violent and criminal (think rape, abuse, murder), but it also comes in smaller forms (verbal fights, media violence, drugs). I’d argue that trauma goes even smaller… getting baby poop smeared all over you could make you swear off babysitting or give you flashbacks to stinky feces. A partner leaving food-covered dishes piled up and turning rotten might ruin that food for you (it took me over ten years to be able to eat Alfredo sauce after such an incident…).
The point I’m trying to make is.. . trauma exists all around you. Just “being” creates potential for traumatic experiences to pop in. Moving through life will always bring traumatic situations, and whether they’re small, seemingly insignificant or life-changing, show stoppers, all of them will impact the person you are, and the person you are growing to be.
So, how can we use this trauma for the better? How can we get to the point where past traumas are exactly that: in the past? And once its there, is it realistic to say that the trauma didn’t change or affect you?
No! Absolutely not. Trauma does change you.
And before I go further, please hear me now: if you have been victim to something awful and traumatic and cruel, it is not your fault that this terrible thing happened to you. It is not your fault. No matter what anyone else in your life might say. (Okay, in some scenarios it could be your fault, but we wouldn’t call you the victim in that case. Say you drink, drive and get in a horrific car crash. That is one-hundred percent your fault! But the person you hit who’s now paralyzed? They are the victim, and this trauma is not their fault! This didn’t happen to them because they are a bad person or deserved it, or any of that. Same way that just because you made a poor decision and caused trauma does not mean you are a bad person either).
Anyway, so if we agree that trauma changes us, then we have to ask ourselves how does trauma change us? For the better, or for the worse? And whether you say it changed you for the better, or the worse, my initial reaction to this topic is correct.
Your trauma does make you stronger, because without that trauma, without that experience, you would not have been forced to grow. You might not have gone through an uncomfortable metamorphosis that birthed you into a stronger, better, more compassionate version of yourself. And yes, it was you, ultimately, who pulled yourself through the pain and heartache, and it was you who made it out alive on the other side. You took the traumatic life experience and from it gained knowledge, perspective, growth. You molded a new beginning, something to carry you through.
But that never would have happened without your trauma.
Of course, alternately, your trauma can make you worse. It can make you cold, hard, bitter, angry. Would you say its you that made you this way, or your trauma? Again, it’s this remarkable combination of both. If you allow your trauma to overpower you, it is ultimately you who is failing yourself. But you would not be in this situation had it not been for the traumatic experience that dropped you there.
Trauma can harm or help us on this human journey. You’re going to experience plenty of it in this world, and I’ve found the best way to handle trauma is to simply face it. Whatever and however that looks to you will vary based on each situation, but whatever you do, don’t ignore it. Accept it. Be sad about it. Be devastated. Even be angry if that’s what you feel! I don’t believe in suppressing human emotion, but I do believe there is both a healthy and an unhealthy way to express that emotion.
It’s walking away to simmer alone instead of spewing hateful words at someone you’re mad at or fighting with. Go be mad, but don’t say things you’ll regret in anger. It’s crying, grieving and missing someone who was wrongly taken from you, but then celebrating their life instead of hunting down and killing their murderer.
One thing the major religions of this world have gotten right is this: two wrongs don’t make a right. If someone hurts you, the problem is with them. Don’t stoop to that level and create more trauma for someone else. You will create your fair share of trauma in this world as is, so try not to do it on purpose.
These humans who are instigating trauma purposefully, who create horrible experiences that innocents fall victim to, are the ones that need help and guidance the most. They have something profoundly out of whack with their system, whether its a chemical imbalance, a born trait, or from learned behaviors, it is them that has manifested into a hateful, cruel person that thrives off seeing pain and anguish. And it is them that is projecting their hate and anger and cruelty onto other people.
That is not normal! And that is not what your soul is craving you to be. It is this human experience, our human body, the meat-suit and mind, that behaves like this, and we spend our lives struggling to tame it. As we play this game of life, we must learn our human thinker and navigate the bad thoughts, learned behaviors, and physical world that comes with it. We’ll create and be victims to traumatic experiences all our lives; it is inevitable. But we must use these experiences to become better. Once we learn how to accept our trauma as part of our journey, only then can we move past and let them rest. Only then can we live without fear, without letting our trauma control our lives. Only then can we “eat the Alfredo sauce,” so to speak.
We have to stop ignoring our trauma, both the ones we cause and the ones we are victim to. We have to stop thinking that these experiences don’t make us better or stronger people, even the experiences that are our fault. They absolutely will make you stronger – if you are wise enough to see how.
Your life is unique. The experiences you undergo, the challenges you overcome, the trauma you conquer, all of it will play a role in determining what kind of person you are.
And really, the only true goal I have for being a human in this world, the only person I crave to be, is twofold. The first part is understanding the truth, that we are all limitless and worthy just by being, and that this physical world is nothing more than a game. The second part is that by spreading this message, we help others awaken to this understanding and are therefore fulfilling our purpose here.
Only once enough of us have awakened can we move into the next stages of evolution – that which is the evolution of our minds. The evolution of our consciousness.
Accepting your trauma for what it is will aid you in attaining this goal, which I hope someday becomes your goal too. And as hard as this might be to hear, understand that there is truly no good and no bad that will happen to you in this world. There is only what is, and how you choose to deal with it. There is only action and consequence, and what is right now, in this moment. Good and bad are illusions; they are not real.
Maybe you don’t agree with me, and that’s fine.
But I know. You are where you are meant to be, at all times. Even when it hurts. Even when it seems unfair. Even when its cruel. These experiences will make you better and stronger, if you are brave enough to let them. And I hope someday you are brave enough to understand who you really are.
Spoiler: you are not the person you think you are. You are something destined for much, much more.
So don’t wallow in your trauma. And don’t ignore it. Face your trauma head on and keep going. It may take years to work through what happened, and that’s perfectly fine. There is no time table, no set schedule to follow when it comes to dealing with your trauma.
You will figure it out exactly when you’re meant to.
Until next time.
Yours for happy writing –