a reminder on what trauma is not

You are a person with a collection of experiences.  If those experiences do not include a form of trauma, this post is not for you.

Trauma can be an isolated event or it can be a series of them, but regardless, it is hard to separate the experience[s] from you as a person.
Despite this, you are not your trauma.  You were, will be, and always have been more than what has happened to you.  But anyone who says overcoming those experiences will make you better and stronger is full of shit.  Not because that isn’t necessarily true, but because the people who say that usually don’t have those experiences.  And so how the hell would they know if you’re stronger because some awful, horrible thing happened to you?

Because trauma can make you distrustful, scared, vengeful. All the things you’re told not to be because they’re bad qualities? That’s what you can become.  
Not always, but sometimes.  
Sometimes those feelings subside, but sometimes they swell up like an emotional Hulk.  That is alright and normal.  Anyone who negates your emotions doesn’t deserve the time it takes to talk about your trauma or the privilege of helping you heal.

And the healing process is just that.  A process.  Overcoming trauma isn’t a positive experience. It is not a destination or the ending of an uplifting, inspirational direct-to-TV Lifetime Original Movie.
It isn’t something that just makes you “stronger” or have a more nuanced understanding of social issues. It’s a lifelong journey that you never signed up for and the rare moments of accolades or pats on the back by well-intentioned supporters don’t do anything to negate the sense of despair you sometimes (or all the time) feel.

Your trauma is not the moral of a story
or a code to crack in order to figure out why you’re afraid to get into a relationship or walk home alone.

Your trauma is not a side note written in the margins of someone else’s story.
It is not fodder for another exposé, documentary, or political debate.

Your trauma is not anyone else’s inspiration.  It deserves more than being a launchpad for someone else’s success.

Your trauma is your eventual triumph and sometimes your downfall.  It is crying at night, but remembering the day always comes.  It is waves of bitterness, speckled with glimmers of hope and vice versa. It is not something to forget or overcome.  Because overcoming means leaving, and we always know that that pain never leaves, just ebbs and flows.

Your trauma is yours, and yours alone.
And sometimes that can be scary.  Debilitating.

Because people tell you that overcoming it makes you better, more well-rounded.  That people who experience hardships don’t take things for granted, are kinder people, can understand the world in ways others couldn’t.

But the people who say that do it out of habit, to make the world more understandable.

You don’t owe those people comfort and you don’t need to oblige their well-intentioned allyship.  If you are a survivor that doesn’t align with their process of healing and that makes them uncomfortable, that is not your problem.  You don’t need their flimsy solidarity.

In this context, you don’t owe anyone but yourself love, respect, and dignity.  You deserve the dignity your trauma negated you.  And if that dignity includes being angry, being confused, being sad for long periods of time, then that’s what you deserve. Don’t let your trauma or others who want to heal your trauma hold you back from experiencing a full range of human emotions because you don’t want to be seen as weak or depressing.

And if in time, you come to a place where you can write the own ending to your own uplifting direct-to-TV Lifetime Original Movie of sorts, then you damn well get to do that because it’s your life and it’s your trauma and it’s your experience, and no one else’s.

It is you knowing full well that forgiving yourself is harder than forgiving anyone else, but you do it anyway because you have to keep living.

Your trauma is your own, and your own, and still always your own.  And no one has the right or the power to strip you of your truths.

with all the love my tiny body can give,
Christina
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