You Hurt. It's That Simple
Your Story Matters. Your Trauma Matters.
While watching a documentary on Netflix about people dealing with mysterious illnesses, my son looked at me and said said, “Now what those people went through was traumatic. Not what you went through with your brain surgeries mom.” Ouch. His words stung, but didn’t surprise me.
Too often, most of us are unaware of the history of trauma in our lives. There are many people walking around with various forms of PTSD and are completely unaware of it. Whether it’s “little” traumas we endured in childhood without even realizing it, or severe traumas we experienced as adults, trauma is trauma. Period. Things happen to us and those events, no matter how big or small, change us for a lifetime.
Too many people have the notion that trauma is something only soldiers face, or victims of sexual assault, or people who have survived natural disasters. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015 and ten days later I watched helplessly as my mom died. I had little to no time to process the shock or grief before I had to endure two brain surgeries and a severe CFS leak. Over and over friends and family questioned (and still question) and doubted (and still doubt) what I was feeling and how I was struggling emotionally—that what I went through couldn’t be that bad because I hadn’t been to war (someone actually said that to me by the way).
Trauma is personal. You hurt and it is that simple. Just because someone else went through an awful traumatic experience doesn’t make yours inconsequential or any less awful. Just because your trauma may not, on the surface, appear “as bad” as someone else’s doesn't mean it’s any less traumatic or has less adverse effects. When we are surrounded by people who don’t understand trauma (like my teen son), it’s easy to feel devalued and invalidated by hurtful comments.
When you go through something traumatic, and people doubt your struggle, it shuts you down. I felt defensive, belittled, and worst of all, ashamed. I questioned myself, berated myself, and blamed myself over, and over, and over. I fell into the comparing game and I tried to dismiss my pain, and I still do this every time I hear of mall shootings, wars, sex trafficking, and other disasters.
Trauma is real and can happen to anyone. ANYONE.
Unresolved trauma can dramatically alter a person’s life. If not addressed, it will manifest in hurtful ways such as depression, addiction, disassociation, or in my case, I experienced debilitating insomnia, anxiety, self-hatred, emotional withdrawal, headaches, and irritability. To me, it was a series of (what I thought) were catastrophic events that hijacked my brain and literally changed the footprint of my life and left a visible scar on my soul.
People don’t respond or recover from trauma the same way. And that’s okay. Your trauma is valid. Even if other people have experienced “worse.” Even if someone else who went through similar experiences doesn’t feel debilitated by it. Even if it happened a long time ago. Even if no one knows. Your trauma is valid. It does matter! It matters because you matter.
If you are someone who is dealing with the effects of PTSD or trauma, don’t allow the opinions of others to deter you from seeking help. We need to acknowledge the wound and then tend to it. Healing is possible. When looking for a therapist, seek out professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma, but beyond credentials and experience, it’s important to find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe. Trust your gut. If a therapist doesn't feel right don’t get discouraged, keep looking for one who does. xo