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Dec10
2015

What No One Tells You About Trauma

By Claire Biggs

This month we’re looking back on 2015 and sharing the most popular blog posts from this year. Want to help us make 2016 our best year yet? Check out our #into16 campaign here

These are the things no one tells you about trauma:

You become someone who has a before and after. You become someone who has been unmistakably altered.

You become fluent in a different kind of dead language, one that you picked up somewhere you didn’t mean to go. It replaces your mother tongue. It falls on deaf ears. The syllables collapse and die in your mouth, a beginning and an ending wrapped in one. You learn that words have a taste, and they taste like shame and regret and guilt and anger. All of them are bitter. I am lucky – yes, lucky – to have several friends who speak this same dead language. We found each other and now hold meetings where we utter truths that sound like curses.

You become a foreigner in your own body. A visitor. On your worst days, a hostage. And, of course, you’re always the one paying the ransom.

You become someone who believes healing is a word that doesn’t apply to you.

You become someone who makes 360-degree turns to ensure you’re not being followed or that the person behind you hasn’t closed the distance between the two of you since the last time you looked back.

You become someone who locks every door and checks that they’re locked every time you walk by.

You become someone who sits with your back against the wall in full view of the exit.

You become someone who panics at the loud noise or the familiar scent.

You become someone who worries when to be on guard. (But that’s an easy question when the answer is always.)

You become someone who leaves your back row of seats down so you’ll see if anyone is hiding in your car before you unlock it.

You become someone who makes jokes to excuse these behaviors.

You become someone who doesn’t find that stuff funny anymore.

These are the things no one understands about trauma: 

It is not something you can just move past, but you try anyway. You try to get over and under and around and through. It seems to block your way forward at every turn. But you keep trying because there’s no such thing as going back.

It is not something that has a reset button. There is no do over. And, worst of all, there’s no off switch. It just settles in your chest and threatens to rise in your throat with every breath.

It is not something easily defeated. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re playing a game where the odds are stacked against you and where the rules were never explained.

It is not something that let’s you pretend you’re all better now.

These are the things I’ve learned about trauma: 

You can build a new after, one you choose for yourself.

You can heal at your own pace, in your own time.

You can find people who will help you along the way.

You can choose what – and who – you become.

You can forgive without forgetting.

You can learn to laugh and love and live again.

You can make it through the unbearable nights and the muted days.

You can move forward even if you don’t like what you’re carrying with you.

You can move forward even if you don’t like what you’re leaving behind.

You can move forward.

If you are struggling with PTSD, please visit our FIND HELP page for helplines and resources near you.

Want to contribute to our blog in 2016? Send an email to info@twloha.com with a submission or pitch. Make sure you put “Guest Blog Pitch” in the subject line of the email.

Leave a Reply

Comments (19)

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015 « TWLOHA

  2. Tanya

    Years and years later it will still haunt your dreams, your relationships, your self worth.

    Reply  |  
  3. Desire

    Ty

    Reply  |  
  4. Sutter

    Beautiful. Thank you for putting gut-wrenching feelings into words.

    Reply  |  
  5. Bonnie 🌲

    Oh, Lacey. I have needed this for so long. …to forgive without forgetting…and then to question if I’ve ever really forgiven. You get it. You probably continue to get it. Dubious honor but true. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  6. keri

    I was diagnosed w/ PTSD earlier this year. Just the diagnosis explained so much. I was raped by my pediatrician when I was 4/5. I remember everything. I remember the feeling of a trigger or a switch being irreparably turned on, one that changed my outlook, my personality, my sexuality. I remember my before & after, I just didn’t understand it for the longest time. What was wrong w/me? I’m a dirty little freak and everyone can see that about me. I’m 45 and can’t go anywhere alone. A good day for me is going into a familiar store or building by myself. My phone phobia? I thought it was just me. TWLOHA has helped me so much. I thank all you dear souls who have laid your hearts to “paper”, & helped to give “freaks” like me a voice.

    Reply  |  
  7. Ashley

    I am finally on the other side where I am starting to find happiness and hope again where a few days ago it seemed like it was a never ending dark hole. Let me tell you it is worth the patience and effort to find that happiness and enjoy being in another’s company again.

    Reply  |  
  8. Stephanie Mitchell

    So true…I guess I’m really not alone after all. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  9. L Lawrence

    Finally, trauma is defined. My doctor told me what I was experiencing emotionally, and even physically, was a kind of PTSD. Thank you for a read I can relate to.

    Reply  |  
  10. Sean herman

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at info@twloha.com

      Reply  |  
  11. Kay Fisher

    One very important thing I learned, that you can survive childhood trauma and learn how to deal with it without being destroyed by it! As said said by Claire Biggs, you can forgive without forgiving, let God handle that part. I have a quote that a therapist gave me and I live by it, “Life is to short to be locked up in a prison of hate and anger”

    Reply  |  
  12. Pingback: Friday Feels -

  13. Haylee

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at info@twloha.com.

      Reply  |  
  14. Haylee

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at info@twloha.com.

      Reply  |  
  15. Skivs

    This right here is what some people in my life need to read…

    Reply  |  
  16. Nicole Bender

    Just a wonderful piece of writing that encapsulates the power of trauma. Find the last part ‘what I have learnt in trauma’ inspirational and hopeful thank you.

    Reply  |