Understanding Your Own Trauma

Just so everyone is clear, the comparison between our lives is really no comparison at all. My life is my life and your life is yours. We all have our own history. We come from different ends of the universe or maybe we live on the same side, but still, the one thing we can never see is what life looks like from behind another person’s eyes.

I will always see things the way I see them. I might grow or advance. I might change my mind or my level of awareness will improve. My level of consciousness might improve too, which means if this happens, I can reach an optimal level of understanding. But still, I’ll be me and you’ll still be you, which is fine, no matter how we see things. 

People forget there is no law that guarantees people will see eye to eye or understand one another. Besides, even if this was a law; even if there was a rule that said we have to get along — the one thing I’ve learned is that people are fabulous at breaking laws. 

There is no point in me comparing my life to anyone else’s. And the same goes for you. None of this is helpful. There is no comparison. For some reason, people forget they are their own separate entity. We come with our own DNA. We all have our own advantages and disadvantages. What was easy to me might be hard for you. And the same is true when going the other way. 

Were you good at math?
I wasn’t. In fact, I’m the guy thankful for the invention of the calculator.
Ever been humiliated in a classroom for stuttering while you read?
You hear the kids laugh like an echo that burns through your soul.

Or wait, did you ever get picked on?
Abused?
Ever been hit?
Ever been touched?

Ever wondered why someone that is supposed to love you the most shows it the least, and yet, there you are, just wanting to be a part or feel involved?
As a result, you allow infractions and violations because otherwise, you might be left out.
Or —
Maybe something happened. Maybe something that you keep a secret has dragged you down to the point, which, no matter what you do or say and no matter how you try to move forward — the unresolved tension seems to linger like a hook, dug and torn into the membrane of your thoughts. And this is more than just a resentment by the way. This goes deeper than a simple scar. 

Have you ever been marked with an instance of personal shame? Or have you ever been hurt in such a way that the pain sort of echoes in your behaviors? You act out as if to say this happened to me once and no matter what, I’ll never let this happen to me again for as long as I live. And you rage or you yell or you scream or you do nothing, instead, and you suffer and you cry like the child you were.
Ever suffer from rejection or been hurt, abused, or stained by a violation of some kind? Ever felt a personal intrusion when someone crossed a boundary that was never supposed to be crossed? By the way, this changes the way we relate to the world.
Ever realize that you’ve been betrayed so badly that when you come to the realization of what happened, the sense of shame and foolishness is like being hit by a truck, a hundred times over?

Or wait, even more effective to us is loss. There is a natural fear of loss. No one wants to lose anything. And for the record, I don’t mean just any loss. I don’t mean a game or a bet.
When I say loss, I mean a loss of time or loss of a loved one. Or how about the loss of a childhood because of a sickness or an event or personal so-called defect that prevented you from joining others?
Ever suffer an injury?
Ever lose your place in line; in which, I mean have you ever had a position and worried that somehow, you’re going to lose your spot because someone else crept in and that maybe they might be better than you?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, how has this impacted your life. See, either way, the answer is relative because some responded well,. others sunk in. some died. And some live in a lifeless way because this (to them) has limited their potential.

I sober-coached a young man that explained he had the best childhood. He was never in trouble. He was always a great student. His family was well-to-do and the home was nicer than average.
He was an athlete. He was good. In fact, he was the best on his team. I will leave out the sport on purpose. I will leave out the background and the draft to a college.
I will leave out the attention received and the mention in the papers. I will leave out the need to switch schools and why because more importantly, after an injury and a few rides on the bench, the athlete switched to a different school.
The pain in his knees was all too real. The loss of his status was something unlike anything he had ever experienced before. This pain was not physical but the brain doesn’t know the difference. Pain is pain.
Going to a new team was different for him. And going from being the go-to man to a low-level support was humiliating and painful to say the least. 

Some people wonder how he fell from grace. But I don’t. Everything he dreamed of or believed in was literally shattered when he hurt himself.
And the pills?
Well, the pills just mask the pain. They don’t solve the problem. The prescriptions run out but the pain is still there, which is why people look for an alternative. Pain is really painful (know what I mean?) and it’s downright uncomfortable to be uncomfortable all the time.

Now, I get it. Some people would say they have no feeling over this and say, “So, what? You want me to feel sorry for him?”
Not at all. This is just to show a symbol of loss. This is a simple way to explain trauma.
Loss is traumatic. Pain is traumatic. Fear is traumatic. To lose yourself or to feel threatened or so intimidated by an instance that you cannot seem to redeem yourself is traumatic. To see something and not get a picture out of your head is traumatic.
Life is traumatic. And trauma to me might not be traumatic to you. But that doesn’t mean the effects are not harmful.

There is a true difference between us all. We all see what we see. We hear what we hear and feel what we feel. Between you and me and the rest of the world are literally billions of different backgrounds, interpretations, and both perceptions and misperceptions of how things go. 

There is no reason to compare pains or losses or upbringings or backgrounds. There’s no reason why we say, “Oh, that’s not so bad,” and relate an experience to the severity of our own. This is why people seldom come forward, by the way. This is why people fail to move forward and seek help. 

Here is what keeps us stuck:

  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Guilt
  • Fault
  • Regret

All of the above lead down to the roads of rejection and personal imperfectness. This is where trauma triggers the idea machine and holds onto fears that we’ve learned from either violations of boundaries or through suffering natural, unfortunate losses. Loss can be anything, such as the loss of a loved one or a friend or to undergo a life without the so-called “Normalcy”.

I hear people ask about the reasons behind people’s behavior. And I seldom think that we understand that people behave for a reason. To behave is neither positive or negative. Behavior is an action. That’s all. The science behind the action is important. This is the pathology. All else is just a symptom.

I behaved on behalf of trauma for most of my life. Now, to some, my trauma means nothing, which is fine because obviously, my trauma meant something to me. I needed to learn this so that I could move ahead.

We’re all looking for that place where we can feel “Okay.” We all want to be liked and wanted, invited, and included.
The fear of rejection, which is a fear of pain and disappointment as well as fear of being stained or tainted because of a violation — and the concern of previous betrayals happening again, or the lessons we’ve learned through public humiliations or after we experience the suffering, which is tormenting enough, we react and shut down or painfully implode.

Trauma based problems can last a lifetime. And I used to blame myself for this. I blamed me for the violations and the times when someone I depended on for protection; thus, violated my safety or hurt me, which, regardless of their intention or their dysfunction; I adopted this as my problem. This was my fault. There had to be something wrong with me, right?
Wrong!
And I knew this. I understood this from a logical and intellectual perspective; however, emotionally, I was just a little kid that was hurt and violated. 

We are always learning. Our brain picks up messages and records the past. Our brain is a record of what happened, what we went through, how we felt, and how we reacted or redeemed ourselves. This is where our subconscious programs come from. This is how we learn to cope and protect ourselves. And more importantly, with regards to mental health, this is what needs to be addressed.
Yet somehow, we focus more on the symptoms of our behavior instead of recognizing and working on the “Thing” behind the “Thing.”

Know why people love pain killers?
Look at the name . . .
But this doesn’t help. It just masks it for a while.

The way to improve is by creating a sense of awareness, which enlightens a stronger sense of consciousness, which results in a better level of understanding — because this is what freedom is.
Freedom is to be unhinged and disconnected from the past or the opinions of others and free to live and breathe without the impending doom of shame, blame, guilt, fault, and regret so that all roads can no longer bring us back to rejection or a sense of imperfectness. 

We hold our trauma. And this is what can kill us, yet, we’re too afraid to let it go.
Why, you ask?
Because what happens if we let it go and it comes back again?
What happens if we feel that shame of a violation again?
What happens if we feel pain again (and take it personally)?

The truth is we learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable truths or the perception thereof. We become so comfortable in fact that we let this define us. We let this describe us. We let this be us. And we become this way because to live without it would be so absolutely foreign that the adverse of living comfortably would almost be too uncomfortable to bear.

And lastly, before I close, I remember thinking for most of my life that I was just stupid. I can’t do things like you or other people. I have mental blocks or mental illnesses. I have learning disabilities. I have something inside of me that makes me different and unwell. 

I remember taking a test, which I knew that I failed. I swore that I failed it too. I lived a lie for so long. And then one day, I got a letter in the mail. It took me a long time to open it. I’ll paraphrase here for a second but put simply, the letter read:

Dear Mr, Kimmel

Congratulations on passing your High School Equivalency exam . . .

See, to you this might not seem like much. To some this might be like, “Well, so what’s the big deal? You’re not stupid”.
But they never lived in my shoes or in my head or saw anything from behind my eyes. And people like this would never understand what it meant to learn how long it takes to get over an internal lie.

I cried for a while after opening that envelope. Yet, the news hurt me. I suppose what hurt me most was the way I allowed myself to be put down — or worse is that I allowed me to put myself down and never dared to rise up above my expectations. 
This is me. This was one of my internal or should I say “Moral” injuries.
This is my life and most importantly, this is part of my recovery.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Your Own Trauma

  1. I have to post this on my page if you dont mind.. Its such a struggle to get grips with traumas we endured we were not allowed to know the full effect of due to a thousand forces of stoic societal conditioning.. I think of all the traumas my two parents endured that I knew nothing of until I got sober in 1993 and started to take an interest in such things.. I know when my sister had her aneurysm in 1980 six months after i nearly died in a car crash there were myriad multi-generational forces playing out.. I wish we recognised as a society how trauma is carried silently and how it can be buried a body in a society that refuses us to protest or try to shack it off seeing that as some kind of sin. Anyway thanks for this post.. Trauma masquerades and I have seen one sister die due to fucking medication and narrow diagnosis.. That nearly shredded me to pieces.. and much as I tried to say I was ignored.. I never would take a single drug after getting sober.. despite pressure.. we are just sadly a society in flight from pain.

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