Every human being on the planet has experienced trauma in one form or another. It is not uncommon to experience trauma unknowingly because trauma is often incorrectly perceived as being a large event that causes significant distress. While that is correct, it is incomplete. Trauma can also be from small events in our life, from traumatic events that occurred in our family history (generational trauma), and from traumatic events that occurred to others on a mass scale. Trauma builds on trauma, so even small traumas combined can result in large trauma, but the size of the trauma isn’t what this is about.
Humans are all individual and unique, no two are the same. Trauma is also unique and individual. What is traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another. What is a significant trauma for one person, may be insignificant to another. How an individual responds to life is as unique as they are and is influenced by their lived experiences, their internal constitution, their conditioning, their environment and the external influences in their life. How they respond is also from a mind, body and soul perspective – again a very individual thing. There are many, MANY things that influence an individual’s response to trauma.
Trauma can come from small events in a person’s life that were of importance to the individual. A child moving house may be insignificant to a child that is carefree and curious, yet traumatic for a child that needs familiarity and comfort for their sense of safety. The loss of a family pet may be a significant trauma for the family member who had primary responsibility for the pet, and sad but not very traumatic for a family member who didn’t. Bullying in the school ground may be significant for a child that has a difficult home environment, and insignificant for a child that is confident and self-assured and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of them. Then there are the big events which humans readily identify as being traumatic, like war, rape, suicide, death, violence and abuse etc.
Trauma comes in many forms, sizes and situations and affects us all differently. What we consider traumatic and how we respond to it is always different.
I have experienced significant trauma throughout my life. In my quest to live free from my past I delve into my traumatic life events to understand how they’ve impacted me, and to heal the wounds and battle scars left behind long after the traumatic events have passed. I am committed to shedding the energy of trauma from my physical body, the mental memories from prominence in my mind, and the conditioning, masks and stories the trauma caused my humanness to adopt. I delve into my trauma not to relive it, but to know who I am at a soul level free from it. It is work in progress but one thing I definitely know is I am NOT my trauma and I am not, and will not, allow anyone to define me by my life experiences.
It’s an ongoing journey because I spent decades unaware of what I was carrying, and then avoiding it all when I became aware. As I work through it I get triggered, a medical term that describes the response an individual gives when something reminds them of their trauma experience. In simple medical terms triggers are “anything that prompts an increase in or return of symptoms”. They prescribe treatments and medications to minimise/subdue/prevent the triggers and symptoms.
I initially followed the mainstream way of dealing with trauma, with some definite results but also a large degree of failure. For me the failure comes from only looking at trauma through a singular lens, trying to apply a set of broad sweeping strategies for everyone, the subduing of triggers and symptoms rather than the removal of them, and failing to look at solutions from a mind, body and soul perspective. If humans are all individual and are influenced by different things, to different degrees, then how can the solution to trauma be anything but individual too?
For me triggers are unthought responses (behavioural and emotional) that activate when the part of my unconscious that houses my traumatic life events is touched upon. When I first began looking at my trauma I was triggered on a regular basis and had no conscious awareness in the moment that I was triggered, what was the cause of my trigger, and that my response was a trauma response. Doing my work, and a lot of it, has increased my conscious awareness but I still get triggered. Deeper layers of understanding come from being triggered, which are both comforting and frustrating. Sometimes I just want to live, not have work to do or triggers to deal with. If I wasn’t committed to knowing my soul and living my life from that place I would stop. Many people do, and I get it. It is not easy sometimes.
I get very frustrated when people judge me by my trauma. When they offer me a ‘one size fits all’ solution or perspective based on an experts learnt knowledge. When people look at me as a ‘case study’ for trauma, no matter how well intentioned they may be. My life is not a case study and I am not a lab rat. I am a soul and a human, committed to being the fullest expression of myself that I can and sharing my story as part of that experience because I know how individual the journey of trauma is and that no expert fully understands the impact of trauma.
Because it is individual like every human.
There are many experts in the field of trauma doing incredible work, with decades of clinical expertise that informs and expands their knowledge base and pioneers new treatments for trauma sufferers. I don’t deny that or discredit it, but I also know the lived experience of trauma brings a wisdom that cannot be gained any other way. No textbook, years of study or decades of clinical expertise can create true understanding of a person’s trauma and what it is for them. It can be understood at a surface level. It can be treated at a clinical level. It can be categorised and labelled. It can be put under the microscope and analysed. But no-one, other than the individual, can understand what it means to the person who experienced it. And even though I share my lived experiences with others to assist them, as a way of relating to them, it is never going to be the same. I can only guide and support, empathise and connect. I cannot truly understand their individual perspective – only they can.
My frustration comes from the judgement, assumptions, projections and advice others make about who I am and why I am me, based on their knowledge of trauma – learnt or personally experienced by them. Trauma is individual. Triggers are individual. Solutions are individual. Offering facts, figures and expert knowledge to a person experiencing a trigger is a trigger in itself, not matter how well intended it is. When a person is triggered they are in the midst of experiencing dis-comfort, the degree of which depends on where they are at in understanding the impact their trauma has on them. They are physically, emotionally and mentally experiencing their trauma and it can be overwhelming.
I have been overwhelmed a lot this year, and it currently feels too much. With conscious awareness and intention I have spent the large part of this year delving into two key areas of trauma in my life. The two areas are my abusive childhood and my adoption at birth. Both areas I have done mainstream work on with some degree of success, but also two areas I have largely avoided because of what I consciously know sits there. Deliberate avoidance and resistance until this year.
Despite choosing to delve into it, and having the wisdom and ability to work through it, I find myself overwhelmed. My overwhelm comes not only from the magnitude of the trauma for me personally, it also comes from other life responsibilities. I am a mum, daughter, friend, business owner, creative, curious soul, teacher, mentor and partner. I have dreams, visions, aspirations, goals and values. I have responsibilities and obligations to others. I also have those to myself.
Those roles and responsibilities can be difficult to manage and maintain when you’re overwhelmed. I find it is where I am easily triggered and lacking in my ability to respond with conscious awareness. When I am not overwhelmed I am quick to catch an incoming trigger and withdraw myself from responding externally. I go internal and sit with the trigger and understand where it is coming from and what is my soul truth about it.
Your soul truth is what you know without the human conditioning, stories and masks that trauma leaves you with. It is when you choose with intention not to relive the trauma and accept the past way of being, instead opting for a new response based on your individual values. It is when you refuse and reject external influences that try to dictate who you are, how you are and what is expected of you. I am normally very good at honouring my soul truth and seeing the truth under a trauma trigger. I have spent four years focusing on clearing the trauma imprints from my soul.
Without doubt this years’ intense focus on two areas of significant trauma for me has contributed to my overwhelm, but it has also come from new life experiences. Some of these new experiences have been traumatic, many are actually great and rewards for the hard work I’ve done in knowing who I am without my life experiences. This is the thing about trauma, as we learn new ways of being and say no to trauma controlling our lives, we uncover deeper layers of impact our trauma has had on us. It’s like our human says “oh no you don’t, I’m here to stay and you are not getting rid of me”. Which is complete bullshit, but makes it difficult to maintain momentum at times. Especially if you become overwhelmed with life!
Life can be hard enough as it is without trauma joining the journey. As I sit in reflection at being so overwhelmed, with my triggers ricocheting around me, I can see how I reached this point. Not all of it was within my control. Some of it has come from life, other parts from my roles and responsibilities, and some of it from my deliberate focus on clearing my trauma. External influences have also played a role, and of course the Universe too as it delivers experiences for our growth at any given time, without consideration for where we are at mentally, physically or emotionally. The Universe, our path, whatever you want to term it, has no concept of time or our human constructed reality. While I understand this I still get frustrated because it contributes to the cauldron of overwhelm brewing within me. It is futile frustration beyond my control, which serves only to add to the cauldron. That I know, yet still feel.
Despite all my work to date, and this year choosing to delve into it deeper, I am overwhelmed, and that is okay. I could berate myself and tell myself “You should have known better”, or I can acknowledge my overwhelm and rest. Take a break from doing and just be. I did recognise my overwhelm coming down the path, and attempted to redirect it, but I allowed external influences to interfere and here I sit. Even in my frustration I can see I tried but not hard enough and then it was too late. A valuable lesson and reminder to always honour what I need when I need it, and to not be influenced by the expectations or well meaning intentions of others. Which is hard when you have roles, responsibilities and life continues around you.
When I followed the mainstream methods of managing my trauma it was easier to cope, but it did nothing to clear the trauma or relearn new ways of being. My trauma still sat there under the medications and the talk therapy. Even overwhelmed I have gratitude for no longer being in that stupor. I still got overwhelmed back then, but I had medications to knock me out and rest my body. Now I am responsible for managing that and I carry a lot less of my trauma. I have wisdom and skills that help me shift the trauma energy, but I am also human. I live a human life as well as a soul life, which means I am going to be triggered along the way if I don’t listen to my soul when it tells me to rest and take a break. When I am rested I maintain my sovereignty and I don’t allow external influences to impact me. I don’t take on the opinion of others and what they think I should be doing, how they perceive me to be failing or succeeding, what their personal opinions of me are. I seek and absorb with discernment the advice of a small number of specific experts.
My sovereignty is like teflon, the conditioning and stories slide off me as irrelevant waste products I won’t consume.
Not honouring my sovereignty resulted in the cauldron of overwhelm brewing and bubbling over into trigger fireworks. A valuable lesson I have already learnt, now deepening with increased awareness, and for that I have gratitude. My anger and frustration is subsiding as I articulate my thoughts here. I don’t need anyone else to understand, but I need to. Yes my overwhelm impacts others and how to manage that better is yet to be understood further, but my sovereignty is the priority. When I am sovereign I am my fully expressed loving self, even when overwhelmed.
Trauma and I are not friends, but we are well acquainted and it continues to be my greatest teacher. There’s pain along the way, but none in comparison to the pain of the original events. Growing pains don’t just occur as we become adults, they continue when we are courageous enough to face our trauma and stand in our sovereignty and soul truth. When we commit to the messy journey of living the best version of ourselves we can.
My overwhelm is showing me where to next, where misalignment for correction sits, but only after I have rested, reset and returned to a place of equilibrium and sovereignty.
It’s time to pick up and adjust my crown.