Saturday, September 05, 2015

trauma and grace



Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their emotions.



It’s recently been acknowledged to me that what I’ve been through in the last few months is an actual trauma. I didn’t go through a terrible event, but rather a series of challenges that added up to a trauma, according to my counselor.

So basically, for me, this just means that I’ve been screwing up a lot lately. It has not been a good time for me to make decisions or deal with the stress of transition and job change and moving. Plus so much more. I mean, let's go down the list. Unpredictable emotions? Check. Flashbacks? Everyday. Strained relationships? Several. Physical symptoms? Quite a bit. Difficulty moving on? Hell yes.

I could use the excuse that this behavior is all about my response to my situation. And there may even be some truth in that. But I also make my choices. It’s important that I own what I have messed up. That I ask for forgiveness where I need and that I work toward reconciliation with those I’ve hurt. My response is all I have control over, and my response must be repairing what’s been broken.

To be honest, I’m just so tired of feeling sad. I’m tired of keeping record of wrongs (clearly my own sin), thinking about how many hours I spent with people listening and supporting them through their hard times and now when things got bad in my life and needed someone they weren’t there for me. This is part of my trauma. It’s no sprained ankle, my counselor said. This is a car crash will multiple broken bones. So to some extent, my choices are at the mercy of my trauma and how my emotions are handling this trauma.

I guess what I’ve found to be most thankful for in this whole process is the grace of Jesus Christ. When I don’t offer grace to myself and others don’t offer grace to me, I always know that Jesus is extending his.  To be honest, it’s all that is getting me through.


4 comments:

KC Bob said...

I am holding back tears Stephanie. I wish I was there to cry with you. To help you in this hard time.

Trauma is definitely the right word. I can relate to PTSD. Trauma hit me the first Saturday in May and I regressed to a similar previous traumatic event - I hated that I relived that old trauma. That said, it is very normal. Understanding the normality of it has helped me.

Even so, it is also appropriate to say that it sucks that Christians are sometimes so superficial and abandon us when we need them the most. I sometimes feel that this 'personal relationship' aspect of Evangelicalism has created a generation of religious narcissists. Religious takers can be so toxic.

On the flipside (is there one?) I continue to embrace the idea that God is even using religious a-holes to make me more like Jesus. Who he had to deal with a few a-holes himself. ツ

Much love to you sister, Bob

meredithsterk.com said...

I love you. The fact that you are feeling and writing and breathing means you will get through this. I was so relieved with the realization that I had been through trauma and how I was feeling was actually a natural response to such a hard thing. One tiny baby step at a time. Hugs.

stephanie said...

I am so sorry you had a regression moment, Bob. That must have been so difficult. While I guess it should be of some comfort to me that all I'm experiencing is normal, I just don't wish it to be. And I wish to not screw up and hurt others in the process of dealing with my trauma. And the struggle for me is to not become toxic and narcissistic myself. I've seen some tendencies in that direction, I am need people to keep my accountable for that behavior.

I'm still learning to love... still learning what it looks like to become more like Christ... This all feels like going backwards instead of forwards.

KC Bob said...

Take care of yourself. Sometimes victims are unfairly blamed. Try not to blame yourself. It is okay to stay down for a bit. Recovery from a traumatic event is (much like grief) a process. The journey back can be painful in itself.

And I have found that the path forward always involves a few steps backward. ツ