Do not get freaked out by the words “trauma,” “dissociation,” or even “recovery.”
I know— they ARE evocative words. And they DO refer to serious concepts.
But there are lots and LOTS of people who won’t go NEAR the skills, tools, and philosophies of trauma recovery— skills, tools, and philosophies that could help them feel and function a LOT better on the daily— because they don’t feel that they “belong” in the tribe of trauma survivors.
Trauma does this thing where it tries to convinces us that we’re not REALLY “trauma survivors.”
It does its best to throw doubt into us about whether what we experienced REALLY qualifies as abuse or neglect.
Trauma likes to convince us we’re big fakers— regardless of what we have or haven’t experienced in our lifetimes, or what we do or don’t experience now in terms of symptoms.
The concepts associated with trauma— especially “abuse” and “neglect” often evoke shame and doubt in us.
We don’t want to think about them. We very much don’t want them to have been real, actual parts of our life story.
And we DEFINITELY don’t like the idea that things that happened to us once upon a time are still affecting us in our daily functioning.
We have ALL kinds of feelings about how “weak” or “screwed up” that would make us.
So we try to keep it all at arm’s length.
I’m not REALLY one of those “trauma” people, we tell ourselves.
I’m not one of those people who are stuck in a “victim” mindset, always focusing on their past “trauma,” we say.
We spin this whole fantasy that if we don’t use the words associated with trauma and recovery, then it’s not quite real.
Maybe we can just opt out of it if we don’t acknowledge it, we think.
The thing is: our nervous system doesn’t especially care if we use ANY of the language associated with trauma or trauma recovery.
Whether or not we like or buy into the word “trauma,” our nervous system was STILL injured in EXACTLY the way it was injured.
We STILL have EXACTLY the symptoms we have.
We STILL need EXACTLY the time, space— and skills, tools, and philosophies— we need to meaningfully recover.
I completely understand why anyone— hell, everyone— might be ambivalent about making “trauma survivor” part of their identity.
The culture does its best to reinforce that ambivalence, by telling us that too many people are identifying as “trauma survivors,” especially on the internet.
All I know is what I know: the hundreds of people I’ve worked with in trauma recovery have very rarely (that is: never) had a problem OVER-identifying as trauma survivors.
Most of them have had the exact OPPOSITE problem: actually identifying things that have happened in their past as having had the painful, cumulative impact they ACTUALLY had.
That is to say: the problem, from my point of view, ISN’T that “too many” people are identifying as trauma survivors.
The bigger problem I’ve seen is that too many trauma survivors have been shamed and gaslit into rejecting the very IDEA that they COULD benefit from the skills, tools, and philosophies of trauma recovery.
Don’t let the label freak you out.
Look past the label— for now— and peep the skills, tools, and philosophies we’re talking about.
Are there things in the trauma recovery paradigm that would help YOU be safer and more stable, today?
Are there things in the trauma recovery paradigm that would help YOU feel and function better, today?
Then let’s not get lost in the vocabulary.
Let’s get to work creating a life worth living, TODAY.