It is easy for someone on the outside to say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But in reality, for those who have suffered great trauma, it is often the survival itself that is hard to cope with. In an instant you’re back at the moment of impact, reliving the fear, somehow making it to the other side over and over again. These emotional connections to your past are often the hardest to break because they can be triggered by ordinary occurrences.
Seeing a happy expression on a stranger’s face can remind an assault survivor of the smile that lured them in. Hearing a loud noise can bring even the most stoic of people into a spiral of physical pain and emotional turmoil. All it takes is the smell of smoke and suddenly you’re there again, in that memory, living your trauma like it’s happening right now.
You know how real those moments feel. You know that “relax” is a four-letter word. You feel a sense of alienation from your peers that only stands to make the processing of your experience worse. The embarrassment of not being able to move on leaves you in a place of despair where your memories are able to control you even longer. That hopelessness starts to become more comforting to you now than happiness.
Believe it or not, this is all totally normal. You were taught to react this way. It’s how your brain protects the programs it has playing inside you. The reenactments of your trauma on a constant loop in your mind.
It’s time to break the loop. You have it in you to challenge that feeling of helplessness and take back the YOU that you were before the trauma.