You probably know what trauma is. You may be familiar with the symptoms, either because you have experienced them, or because you know someone who has. You already know that the worst thing about trauma is not the experience or experiences that caused it, however terrible they were; the worst thing about trauma is what happens to you after.
This is the way I explain it to those who don't know. I've adapted it from something a social worker who deals with trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Angela Hovey, told me. It will mean more to you if you do this exercise while you're reading.
Take out a piece of paper. On that paper, write down your important relationships, and briefly, your role in each one. Using my daughter Caroline, for example, my relationship to her is mother, my role is to protect and care for her. For Ian, my relationship is spouse, one aspect of my role is to love and support him.
On the same piece of paper, write down your profession or job, and one main skill you use in it. Below that, your financial status. No details, just very generally: I own a home, a car, I have some savings, I earn enough to take care of myself and my family.
Now list a couple of your hobbies and interests, and some plans you have for the future, things you're looking forward to: a trip, a social event, a promotion, a planned vacation. And finally, write down what you see as the meaning of life. One sentence: I believe God loves and watches over me; I believe we're here to help each other; I believe I can take care of myself and those I love. Whatever you see as giving life meaning.
When you have finished, pick up that piece of paper, and for the next 30 seconds, tear it to pieces. Don't stint--keep ripping for the full 30 seconds.
Now, put those pieces back together again.
Severe trauma shatters your whole life: your relationships, your ability to perform the roles you previously had, your job and financial status, your hobbies and future plans, your concept of life and what makes it meaningful. Often in as little as 30 seconds.
And then, when you're feeling frightened and betrayed and ripped to pieces, the toughest part begins: you have to find a way to put the pieces back together.
In 2003, I was in a severe car accident. Every aspect of my life was affected.
Because I believe that the most important thing we can do is increase our understanding of ourselves and of others, I will be blogging about the things we feel deeply, about the things that separate us and that unite us. I hope you will respond and share, as well.
Has something happened that changed your life suddenly? How did you deal with it?