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Bowmanville, ON

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Trauma Lessons

Trauma has been a part of my life since I can remember. Unfortunately life decided I could handle it and trauma of various kinds continued to be part of my life. My experiences aren’t something I openly talk about. For me what I’ve found is that it empowers the pain, instead of empowering me. There is just too much, and the retelling costs too much. To be clear this isn’t about avoiding, I’ve been there, done that. I acknowledge the experiences happened, but I give attention to my survivor-ship, my resilience, instead of what happened to me & the things that weren’t in my control.

I felt compelled to not let others go through the rough moments I had, alone. I say that knowing that I wasn’t alone, I’ve reached a place far enough from the pain that I can see, I was definitely walked with. I volunteered and worked in crises agencies, rape crises, and women’s centres. Eventually with hopes of being pro-active, I pursued working in the domestic violence field, primarily with perpetrators of violence. I came to a point where I had to close that chapter. I branched out and eventually started working with mostly clients seeking support voluntarily, not necessarily in crises or because they were mandated to. Through the variety of clients I saw, who were came to counselling for various reasons, many had trauma histories.

There is much that can be said about trauma, but 4 simple lessons stick out for me:

  1. What resonated with me from my personal and professional experience is that you never know what other people have gone through or are going through. I’m usually smiling and unassuming, as is many others with horror stories of their own.
  1. If I think of my past as a whole, I can feel hopeless, I can feel grief, I can get caught up in that pain, and the unfairness of it, the lack of control I had. I can also flip the script and think of all the times I took control. The choices I made to cope, or pick myself up after unhealthy coping. It may not be fair choices, but there are choices.
  1. Even when you feel like you don’t, you have capacity. There are moments I chose to laugh instead of cry. There are moments I didn’t feel enough, but had enough to help others.
  1. We all have power to make or break someone else’s day. Every small interaction or opportunity for interaction that power is there. Choose to be kind.