I opened the floodgates, and now all I want to do is write it seems!
Today I want to talk about what I call the Toolbox of Trauma. We all have traumas. A lot of them occur when we are young. We either make mistakes and end up in bad situations, or bad situations just plain happen. I have done a lot of thinking around answering the question of why trauma happens, but often there really isn’t a why. Sometimes bad things just happen to us. Though I do believe that we invite or deny significant experiences both consciously and unconsciously, I don’t believe that there is a cosmic accountant in the sky keeping track of our good deeds and bad, dishing out help or trauma to us according to whether we’re nice to elderly people or rude to waitstaff. The vast majority of events that occur in this crazy universe are completely out of our control. The magical thing though, the secret power we all have, is to transform our traumas into tools of healing for ourselves and others. That is some serious sh*t into gold alchemy, people.
When I started down my healing path in 2004 it felt like I got 100% hazed by the universe. I know I wasn’t being hazed but it sure felt like it. I had never, and have never since been so sick in my entire life as I was during my first semester at MTI. I got walking pneumonia, had a systemic spontaneous allergic reaction to the high dose of amoxicillin given to me for the pneumonia, causing me to be hospitalized three times and pumped full of IV antihistamines and steroids. I don’t even remember moving to my new apartment because of how loopy I was fighting off the inflammation with medications. Other traumatic things occurred during this time involving my body and my relationship with my then partner. It took six solid months before I felt like myself and I wasn’t ever really my former self again. Somehow I got through that year of massage school with passing grades. In the months following my initial recovery I quit my job, ended my relationship, and moved home to spend some time healing with my family.
Was it traumatic? Absolutely. It was the first time I’d ever felt truly at odds with my body. I had to spend some time making friends with it again. After being so physically betrayed by the medications that were supposed to heal me, I started looking into alternative approaches to healing and immune support. Through bodywork, yoga, mindfulness practices and herbal & whole foods healing, I regained my health. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have these tools to offer my clients, the most important of which is how to heal your relationship with your body after trauma.
Watching someone we love make the same mistakes we have made, or feel the same pain we have felt, can be very challenging. We can set good examples, we can educate people on how to avoid trauma, but part of loving others is letting them have their own experiences. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been very good at learning from other people’s experiences. The thing we do gain from watching others go through similar challenges to our own, is a depth of empathy. It can be especially hard as a parent to watch your child walk headfirst into pain, but you have to let them. They’re going to do it anyway, no matter how hard you try to stop them, and they need you to stand next to them instead of in front of them. You have your toolbox at your disposal to help them heal after the fact. You have to trust that they are building their own toolbox.
My toolbox is heavy. My arms are strong.
I have experienced other, more dramatic traumas before and since my “hazing”. I’ve spent a lot of energy opening myself up to the lessons and strengths to be gained from them. Some involved forgiveness that felt impossible. Some contained lessons I will keep learning for the rest of my time here. We have the power to transform these experiences into teachings, into tools for healing ourselves and others, into emotional/spiritual workout plans for badass warriors. Each experience offers us a choice between allowing ourselves to believe that we’ve been victimized (either by life or by a specific person), or to believe that we have the power to choose what has agency over our lives. The more we choose the former, the more power we give away. The more we choose the latter, the more powerful a warrior we become.