This morning I sat at my dining room table and wept as I scrolled through facebook and had to explain the effects of trauma on the brain to another asshole who has never experienced anything remotely resembling trauma in their life but still managed to think he was an expert on the subject. I am tired in my soul of this. There is a wealth of science based information on trauma and the brain. We live in a world where the internet is literally at your fingertips and you can choose to educate yourself on any topic in a matter of minutes but people still sit behind their keyboards and spew hatred and ignorance at others who are experiencing deep pain and suffering. And right now with current events in this country there is an abundance of pain and suffering. An abundance of people having to relive their trauma each and every day. My heart aches for each and every one of them.
I have a lot of experience with trauma in my life. Trust me when I say I have experienced more than my fair share. And each event has left its mark on me. Each one has shaped the way that I experience and react to events in my life. Mostly for the worse. These traumas have been a source of so much frustration and pain and suffering for me. They are really the gift that keeps on giving in that way. Not only do you get to live through the traumatic event but the effects fuck with you for a lifetime. Making it impossibly hard to react like a normal human being to a totally normal conflict or situation. Making you seem like a complete fucking lunatic when even the smallest thing goes wrong. Making you feel like your entire life is spiraling into a giant flaming pile of garbage because of one small hiccup.
I could write multiple posts about my own personal traumas and the way that I have dealt with them but that is not the point of this post. My point for this post is that trauma is complicated and each person experiences it and processes it differently. Each brain deals with it in a different way but I think the main goal of our brain is to try to protect us from it as best as it can. That looks different for each person and varies depending on a number of factors like their resiliency and ability to process. It depends on the severity of the trauma and the age it was experienced. It even depends on the type of trauma. Everyone’s experience is different.
Every single person is different.
Some of us may have similarities but there is no cookie cutter response to trauma. We are all doing the best we can. We are all trying to make it through one more fucked up day without throwing our arms in the air and giving up because it is just too fucking hard to keep doing this over and over. We are all just trying like hell to learn from another failed interaction, response, friendship, or relationship. We are all trying not to make the same mistake again and again and again. We are trying not to believe the voice in our head telling us that no matter how good things seem right now there is no way they can stay this way because life is chaos and happiness cannot last. We are all just trying to do better. To pick up the pieces over and over. And it is indescribably hard with this monster riding shotgun in our brain. Sometimes impossibly hard. But we keep going.
And do you know what helps most? I will give you a hint… It is not criticism and judgement, both of which I have seen in abundance over the last few weeks. It is your compassion. It is your love. It is your understanding. It is your offers of help and your willingness to learn about us. It is your gentleness. Your kindness.
I want to share that with all of the traumas I have experienced in my life the memories that I carry with me vary from each event. Almost none of them do I remember in vivid detail. Most are missing huge pieces, especially locations and time. I couldn’t pinpoint the age I was or the even the year that they happened for most. The one thing that I remember about each and every trauma my brain has allowed me to remember are the feelings associated with them. The fear, the terror, the hopelessness, the anger. These are seared into my brain and they are what flood my senses when a song or a smell or a word or a voice or a memory triggers them and makes me re-live them.
So I ask you this… Do not dismiss somebody’s experience, their pain, their truth because you cannot understand. Because their memories of an event do not check off the neat little boxes of what you think they should remember. Because their reaction to the event is not how you think you would have handled it. I guarantee you they have done the very best they could do in an impossibly unfair and shitty situation. The kind of situation that I pray you never have to go through. That nobody should ever go through. Their brain has dealt with this situation the best way that it could to try to protect them. And your judgement is not necessary or helpful.
I encourage all of you to be gentle with each other. You have no idea what each person you are interacting with is dealing with. What they have carried with them for a lifetime. What they may be hiding or masking. What kind of pain may be present under the surface at all times. The enormous amount of work they have put in to make it to this point. The setbacks that they may be encountering. The constant fear that they may be living with. Think about your words, your actions, your judgements.
And if you are a survivor of trauma in this current shitstorm please be gentle with yourself. Give yourself grace and love. Practice your self care. Think about setting up an extra therapy appointment. And for fucks sake stay out of the comment sections. That shit is not doing anybody any good right now.
Most of all remember that you are important in this world and we need you.
Love to you all, the unconditional kind.