Meaning Making

Question

I feel like my trauma will always be a part of me. Is that a bad thing to think?

Answer

Now let’s talk a little bit about how trauma can be a part of your identity after you recognize it’s severity. Once the numbness or minimization subsides, depending on the nature of your trauma, you may experience feelings of hopelessness or overwhelm. In this phase, you can feel overpowered by your feelings or triggered by many things around you. This is the most difficult time to engage in healing work, but also can be the most critical. To get through this time, try acknowledging and naming your feelings without ruminating on them. You can also try looking at your trauma objectively or work through some trauma self-education to build recognition that you are not to blame, regardless of your experience. To help with this, you can try talking to another survivor, a trusted loved one, a therapist, or crisis counselor. Remember healing is not linear and you do not need to go through this alone. Through engaging in trauma work, you can also feel consumed and that perhaps being a survivor is your only identity (or maybe even just your main identity). Survivors who feel consumed can appear more functional than survivors who are overwhelmed, but may be unable to focus on things outside of their survivorship. This is not always necessarily a bad thing. It can fuel a lot of positive things like advocacy efforts, social justice movements, and community building. It may not be sustainable, however, if you do not have things outside of survivorship that are important to you. In this phase, try to be honest with yourself and reconnect with things outside of the survivor space that make you feel whole. If you cannot find anything, look inward with curiosity and begin some self-exploration. You never know what you may stumble upon that may make you feel like “you” again. Finally, the most sustainable way to manage your trauma is to integrate it as an important part of who you are, but not all of who you are. We are the product of many positive and negative experiences in our lives. Recognizing and amplifying the parts about ourselves that we love, while accepting the parts of ourselves we cannot change, is an important part of the process. You are not broken, but you may be different than you were before. That is okay. So the long answer to your question is no it is not bad that your trauma will always be a part of you. In fact, it is healthy. It is important to recognize, however, all the other things that make you who you are outside of your traumatic experience. That way you can amplify and build on those things to allow you to move forward. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. You are not alone.

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