Trauma is the intruder at the dinner party of your life. It doesn’t ring the doorbell. It storms through your front door, chases away your guests and mocks your meticulously planned agenda. You watch, in horror and dismay, as trauma, seemingly in slow motion, greedily devours your lovingly prepared food, the very thing that nourishes and sustains you. In other words, trauma is that blindsiding life event that devastates your inner core of being.
Trauma arrived in my life with a literal bang on January 7, 2011. The face of my trauma was the grill of a transport trailer truck in my driver’s side window as it pushed my car sideways down the highway. The sounds of my trauma were deafening screeches of metal colliding with metal followed by my own screams of terror. In the midst of terror came the spiritual face of my trauma: Disconnecting from my physical body, I floated up to the roof of my car and witnessed myself screaming. Yet, simultaneously, a profound liquid-like spiritual peace flowed through me as I witnessed a group of angels around my car, literally holding my Honda Civic and I together. No, I was not going to die on the highway that day. In fact, I survived that accident with all limbs intact! I, Krysia Marie, am a walking, talking miracle.
Post-accident, I just assumed that I’d return to life as I knew it, perhaps with a few weeks or, at the most, a few months of recovery time. What actually happened was the onset of some devastating health issues including flashbacks, chronic pain, fatigue, grieving cycle emotions (shock, denial, anger, despair, depression), overwhelming anxiety and a strong urge to hibernate etc. etc. etc. Eventually, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is like living in a parallel universe in which your inner core of being is shred into teeny, tiny fragments, while you look “perfectly fine” on the outside. It is being painfully lost in your own life as your physical, emotional, behavioural, psychological, social, cognitive, and spiritual aspects of self are all in disarray.
As a well-educated, goal-oriented experienced teacher with a strong work ethic and positive spirit, I assumed that I would just relentlessly persevere and get on with my life. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” had always been a successful solution for my life problems. Oh, the additional pain, struggle and heartache of trying to push through and control the aftermath of my accident trauma!!!! Thus began my personal power struggle with trauma. Pain upon pain upon pain. It was time to start redefining my post-traumatic life experience.
“Redefinition” offers the possibility of looking at life in a different way, starting with the most manageable time frame, “just for the moment”. It is a psychological reframe with my own personal and poetic twist.
To redefine your thoughts, feelings, actions etc. is to empower yourself on your journey through trauma. Take courage, my friend, you are not alone. Take it one moment at a time.
Just for this moment, I will be gentle on myself.
I will loosen my grip ever-so-slightly on my definitions of how my life “should be”.
I will, just for this moment, surrender the need to control and replace “control” with “self-compassion”.
I will feel all the feelings that arise–the pain, the fears, the hope, the despair–yes, feel it all.
I will consciously be gentle with myself.
For gentleness is power.
Gentleness is strength.
Be gentle. Be still. Just for this moment.