Monday, April 17, 2017

Trauma, Arrested Development, and Grace

Photo by thomas henke on Unsplash
It is difficult when victimized people get stuck, because yes, something(s) awful happened.


At some point we have to own our stories and decide whether the hard times DEfined us or whether they REfined us.

Maybe we were completely blameless for whatever incident(s) occurred against us. This is most often the case. The traumatic event was absolutely beyond our control. 

But after? We have control of what happens next. Trauma, either via force of nature or executed by another person who chose to act from evil, is not the author of our stories. A pivotal plot device, perhaps, but not the outcome or source of definition for our souls.

We are the ones who can choose between escapism and moving our futures forward; between hardening our hearts against future hurts and becoming vulnerable, to the point of brokenness, so that love and all its risks might live again; between living a life of emptiness as just a skeleton of who we once were, and [re]building a life with fullness and meaning; between constantly carrying the heaviness of our shame, projecting it on others with deflections of blame for the way we act now, and letting it go, accepting responsibility for our actions during the after.

These are agonizing choices; they may leave us more battle fatigued and scarred than the initial trauma ever was. But, when we choose the path of survivorhood rather than that of victim, we rise like a phoenix from the ashes, emerging more powerful, awesome, and beautiful than we were before. We can pour that beauty into others yet to be preyed upon by evil, ignorance, hatred, or abuse, and multiply the impact of one victim's transformation by supporting others as they seek the same path.

Or, we can become paralyzed, holding on to the burden of trauma so tightly that everything else slips through our grasp. The trauma feeds on us like a parasite, creating a shell of the person we once were. We are blinded to good deeds, thinking only the worst, allowing no alternate possibilities to exist in our minds. And we push loved ones away with this skewed reality until the worst becomes reality, indeed. We become stunted in our personal development, unable to support and help others without ulterior motives or manipulations in play. It all becomes a vicious game of Hurt or Be Hurt, either option becoming the fuel for that perpetual prophecy birthed from our fears, unforgiveness, maladaptive coping mechanisms (those things that numb us from life, addictions to sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, bingeing, compulsive lying, etc) and we are never truly free.

I choose to be a warrior.

I honor my fellow warriors marching to claim suvivorship.

And I extend my hands to those who desire that for themselves. I can help. Will help, if you're willing to work for it. At times, my help may feel like challenges designed for you to fail because I might ask you to think about somethings from another perspective, and you may resent me, but that's the battle.

Sometimes there is clean-up to be done, debriding the scars, or pruning if you will, before we can climb the path. And it can take a lot of time before we are ready. It can make us want to retreat.

We have to win our minds back to take the trek. 

And it's arduous, fatiguing, and bloody, hard work. 

Like, "why have you forsaken me" anguish. 

It's going to rehab. 

It's calling the doctor and saying, "I'm on anti-depressants and my grandma just died in the midst of a bunch of family drama and I'm days away from being laid off from the best, most fulfilling job I've ever had and I'm scared AF that the meds can't compete with the stress hormone bath my brain is getting these days - can we adjust my dosage?" 

It's questioning our knee-jerk reactions to events and conversations, asking ourselves, "Is it possible they didn't actually mean to hurt me?" and giving the benefit of the doubt. 

It's calling out to our tribes and telling them we don't know what to do, but can they just come and sit with us? 

It feels like rock climbing without a belayer - and if you are scared of heights like me, that's freaking terrifying - but what feels isn't always what is. 

So whether you just arrived at the base camp of It Hurts So Bad, or you've been camped out there for awhile - it's ok, this isn't a race. And God is tender to us, especially at the IHSB base camp, so I will be too.

I can/will be your loudest cheerleader, but I will not be party to self destructive habits that may shelter you from the work you have to do.

It's what survivors do.

I've been REfined through my trials, not DEfined by them.

Who's ready for a hike?

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