Remove the Mask of Your Trauma so You Can Shine.
I have spent so many hours with people suffering from childhood trauma that I understand its dynamics like the back of my hand.
For nearly 10 years, it has been my work to not only help people achieve wholeness emotionally, but to go on and actually cast off the personality (habits, patterns, addictions to an internal state of distress) instilled in them by complex trauma. On the other side of this work rests your true face… our true faces.
From these many hours in the trenches, I can tell you that the worst things happen inside of us when the trauma is inescapable. Give me someone with a one-off incident whose life was otherwise constructive of resilience and I will show you a hopeful case.
Complex trauma, on the other hand, is systemic, all-encompassing, often present from birth, insidious, intricate, highly influential in terms of how we see the world, how we process information, how we relate to others… ad infinitum. Complex trauma is perpetually present and disruptive to every facet of our development as human beings.
So, with that as my (truthful) backdrop, I probably won’t have a hard time convincing you that inescapable trauma does grave harm to our inner and outer worlds.
But maybe you have never considered the rest of what I am about to say, maybe it will even offend you:
Within traumatic systems, it is entirely possible, maybe even probable, that the most damage isn’t actually done by the perpetrators, but by the so-called bystanders.
These are the people who are complicit. You should be able to look to them for rescue, but you can’t. They have the power to save you, but they don’t.
Until you meet the fetid soul of the gutless bystander, there is hope of redress, hope that something or someone outside the trauma bond will intervene. Once that hope is gone, you become like the woman sinking into the floor, as in the image above.
You retreat. You shut down. You move into the only realm left to you where safety — or at least, escape — still exists: the far reaches of your own mind and the collapse of your own nervous system. Faced with those who allow the perpetrator to continue, you begin to disappear.
Even when you are not being molested by your father and blamed by your mother, or beaten by your mother and ignored by your father, or, or, or… the effects are with you. You start to live your life like a deer in the headlights or a mouse dangling from the cat’s incisors. A kind of pointlessness inertia overtakes everything in your life.
You are alive, but you don’t see much point. You want to escape, but you know you can’t. So, you make the best trades you can in order to survive in the system, the comprehensive, corrupt, system.
Why am I telling you this?
Because we are in an international, inescapable, ongoing trauma perpetuated by (among others) the President of the United States. And all around him are the complicit bystanders. They make excuses. They gaslight. They defend. They encourage us to question our sanity and to accept this new reality as perfectly normal, perfectly fine. They also hold the power of the tipping point.
Without their intervention, all efforts at diffusing the madman’s efforts will fail. Here’s looking at you, Moscow Mitch.
In this situation, what is happening to us?
Well, at least the percentage of us who are educated, aware, and engaged enough to understand the gravity of the situation?
We are beginning to stare blankly into the face of our lives. We are losing hope about tomorrow. We are frozen in time, frozen in fear, frozen emotionally. We are disappearing inside our own minds, or else we are working our way through the fight, flight, freeze digression into absentee living.
Maybe some percentage of us is still fighting, still running (symbolically or actually). But we are headed for the trauma responses of last resort.
This makes work like mine complicated. How do you help people heal from trauma when the trauma is, yet again, all-encompassing, happening at the hands of people with far more power, inescapable?
What kind of healing process doesn’t actually just feel like a bad case of denial in this situation? To be honest, even I am feeling the impact. I know what to do. I have every tool at my disposal. But some days, I can’t do it. I can’t pull myself up out of the collapse and into proactivity, much less joy, pleasure, investing in the future.
So, I am not here to give you platitudes or to assure you everything is, or will be, okay. I can’t make those kinds of promises and I won’t lie to you.
I am just here to remind you that you have one life to live.
And these are the circumstances of the day. You have to choose. You have to show up every day as a passionate warrior, committed to something greater than yourself and determined to live right now.
You have to wake up every single day and choose to calm your nervous system, work with your brainwaves (to stay out of high beta), engage in logical, sequential thought aimed at realizing the future you desire (which helps create positive emotion), just to drop a few options that will help you live outside the stupor of this systemic loss.
I am also here to tell you that there is every point to healing the pain of your past so you can actually move on to breaking various manifestations of trauma. You are worth it. You deserve to be whole and at peace with what happened to you and that peace can be yours even in these, the worst of times faced in several generations. You deserve to remove the mask of your trauma so you can shine.
Finally, I am here to alert you to the effects of our circumstances. Once you know why you are staring blankly at your own walls, you can start to address your reaction to the situation, which is all you really can control.
I am here if you need me.