Trauma – 101
Trauma is a big word and a big concept, whether you use the little “t” trauma or the big “T” Trauma. Its effects are far reaching and can be long lasting, so handling with gentle, tender, compassionate care is necessary.
In general, it would seem that it is also one of the words that is being misused, not necessarily intentionally. But given the importance of healing true trauma, it is critical that we never underestimate it’s impact.
There is also a tendency to diminish its impact by somehow “scaling” it and comparing it to others experiences and making our own experiences – more or less than, someone elses’ to either minimize our own situation and perhaps avoid dealing with it, or expanding it as a larger calls or help. Any and all situations dealing with trauma deserve love and care, no matter what the experience.
Another interesting fact perhaps is that all trauma affects our bodies and minds in essentially the same ways. For example, a child will experience trauma by seeing others being hurt and it will have the same affects on their system, as the one being hurt. The physical pieces i.e.: bruising will be different, but the meanings, interpretations, fears, emotions, actions and effects on our nervous systems etc., will essentially be the same. That isn’t to minimize either, but is to show just how impactful experiences are – no matter how they are experienced by any /all of our senses.
Before we go too far, or into too much detail about trauma, I thought I would start with a few examples that perhaps you haven’t considered before.
Some examples of trauma / a traumatic experience is/can be:
- A subjective experience
- A single or multiple incident experience
- A product of enduring conditions i.e.: ongoing abuse, violence, war
- An experience of threat to life, bodily integrity or sanity
- An experience of neglect and/or abandonment
- A result of medical or surgical procedures
- A result of losing a parent or caregiver
- A result of witnessing violence or threats
- A result of being removed from any caregiver or safe home / attached person
For children, as I mentioned earlier, if they see their mother being beaten, it is traumatic and has the same affects.
Also for children, if their caregivers use abusive wording /threats i.e.: “If you do that again, I’m going to kill you”, they do not have the ability to know that this isn’t true, so it too is considered traumatic and will have lasting impact.
Obviously there are many many more, but I wanted to start with some “basic’ information on some pieces of trauma. If you look externally there are so many definitions of what trauma is, but if you look at some key factors, it is easier to determine. Basically trauma is anything that overwhelms our systems ability to tolerate, adjust and regulate. Hence its also subjective nature as what may be traumatic as a child, may have a lesser impact if experienced as an adult.
We are just starting at the outer edges of this topic, so this gentle start is intentional. My main purpose is also to invite you to be curious about being gentle with yourself and allowing yourself to not “scale” your responses by diminishing their value and impact in your life, compared to what may have happened to others that is different. Just be curious, that is all… this is a step and it counts.