This is a difficult thing to talk about—it’s an even more difficult thing to experience. And yet, as with most subjects you and I get into….there are two sides to consider.
Of course, there’s the obvious aspects of experiencing trauma…the brutal, painful reality of it. No one wishes for this to happen to ourselves or to our loved ones.
At the same time, I believe there is a post-traumatic growth or wisdom that can come out of this negative experience….IF we are able to work with it and get down underneath the obvious pain to a deeper awareness of our life.
I know…it sounds simplistic but let me explain more about what I mean.
There are three kinds of trauma that we humans may experience:
- Direct Trauma – This is the actual event or experience that we have – the car accident or the bullying or the attack…physical, mental, emotional, sexual or spiritual …on our person. We feel the shock of this experience. There is nothing positive or desirable about this happening.
- Indirect Trauma – This occurs when our traumatic experience is denied or made light of or ignored by others. For example, a child is sexually abused and when he/she tells her parent, the parent denies that that could have happened or says you’re imagining things or exaggerating. Now the child experiences indirect trauma…a much more damaging and long-lasting effect.
- Atmospheric Trauma – Let’s say that a child gets bullied or abused but he intuitively knows that there is no space for him to express his feelings about the trauma. There can be many reasons for this. His parents may be overwhelmed by their own problems, there is no acceptance of emotional discussion—no room for this kind of expression. The child picks up this kind of energy subconsciously and knows there is no space for his feelings. And so the traumatic experience gets buried deep inside and can create a world of anxiety, depression, difficult relationships etc. as that child grows into an adult.
What I’m saying here is that trauma can happen on several levels. IF the original traumatic experience is dealt with in an empathetic way …acknowledged and given importance to the child, then healing can take place and lingering negative effects may not happen.
If the child’s traumatic experience is denied, ignored, made light of OR if the child cannot express her feelings in an unaccepting atmosphere, then the trauma will go deeper and could take many years to be accessed and healed.
Now let me get back to the idea of post-traumatic growth.
Underneath the trauma is a wisdom we can achieve if we are willing to delve into what happened with the intention of self-healing and huge empathy for our inner child’s painful experience. Part of the reason that I’ve seen this happen is because there is an awakening that happens as a result of the traumatic earthquake. Trauma shatters our world…everything familiar and safe and trustworthy blows up into a million pieces. We can be shocked into a kind of awakening. Wisdom can then emerge. We can see our life in a deeper, more meaningful way.
Even if we experienced Indirect or Atmospheric Trauma, we can sink into that pain still buried in our bodies and we can heal not only the original trauma, but any residual trauma that may have occurred.
This is deep difficult work. I know this from my own personal experience, but I also know how worthwhile it is. It can take your life to a new level. You can open a door to a richer, more alive life experience. You can dive into that ‘river of sanity’….at long last.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about any of this. If you feel the call to do this important work. If you are tired of skimming the surface of your life, please reach out. I want to support your commitment to you living your most meaningful life…now!