Trauma invades areas of our lives we never thought possible. It leaves physical scars. It leaves mental scars. It leaves emotional scars. It halts you in your tracks at the smallest of memories. Your body tenses in response and you are suddenly alert, acutely aware of every noise and movement around you.
The effects of trauma don’t always show on the outside. Someone walking past you may not even know that your heart is racing, that your throat is dry. They may not see your clenched fists or tight jaw. Your physical scars may be hidden beneath clothes. You may not have physical scars, just those etched into your mind, onto your soul.
Trauma can be an extremely lonely experience. How do you find someone who understands when you don’t know how to explain it? How do you find someone who will understand why you are quiet for long periods? Who will understand why you are fidgeting and looking nervously around at nothing? How will they understand how real the nightmares are? Who will understand why you want to stay in bed today?
Recovery from trauma is hard. Being a survivor doesn’t mean you forget. Living your everyday life doesn’t mean you’re healed. Being able to laugh all night with friends doesn’t mean you won’t be crying on the way home. It’s not something that goes away. It stays with you for life. It burrows deep inside of you.
Trauma is like your shadow. It follows you everywhere even when you are completely unconscious of it. The memories, the feelings, the emotions…they can be as easy to trigger as a light switch. It’s frustrating and painful. It’s agonizing and stressful. It’s paralyzing. It’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. It’s lonely. It can’t be erased. It will never be forgotten.
Yet, as a survivor, you take that step forward. You get up in the morning. You shower. You get dressed. You go outside. You go for a walk. You go for a drive. You head to work. You hang out with friends. You grab a coffee. You go to lunch. You keep up with the news. You read your favorite books and watch your favorite movies. You do everything that is “normal”.
You are a fighter. You carry the weight, but in silence. You know you will have lapses and you know you will have bad days, but you don’t let it stop you because you are stronger than your trauma. You are stronger than the memories, than the scars, than the triggers. You are not your trauma and your trauma is not you.
You have dark days when all you see are the images playing in your head. You hear every sound that takes you back to that place. You smell those familiar and hateful scents. Those dark days do not define you. You know they don’t. You will let them run their course and then get up and carry on.
You will carry on with your life because you are strong enough to know that you can continue on one more day. You are strong enough to take another step. You can live a normal life. You are not your trauma and your trauma is not you.
You are strong. You are brave. You can hold your head high. You can be proud of every small step you take. You don’t have to explain anything to anyone. You can carry on because you are not your trauma and your trauma is not you.