I've been asked to write about "trauma" and the topic has been on my mind since. There are so many different angles to this topic and I am not even sure that its something I can completely summarize in one blog post. I say that because, for me, traumatic moments seem to have happened regularly since I was originally diagnosed in 2013. The most prominent have been, obviously, my diagnosis...but even more difficult than that : Death. I'm not entirely sure I want this entire post to be about that but I do want to talk about it.
The majority of us have experienced death or trauma in some form. Death doesn't always mean, SOMEONE or SOMETHING dies, but the end result will most likely always be grief. To me, trauma is a situation or event that has happened in our lives that has the ability to completely change the way we view life, or the way our brain processes, what most might comprehend as "normal circumstances". In all honesty, I feel like trauma and death can go hand in hand. I have experienced both more times than I would like to admit or accept.
I am not sure how many 40 year olds can say that they have consistently lost 3-4 friends a year. The amount of hands I have held in the last 24 hours of life is a number I'd like to forget. With each beautiful heart, a little piece of me dies. Every. Single. Time. This part of my life is one I consider extremely traumatic. Losing a loved one, is one of the most heart-wrenching, traumatic events I think we, as humans, experience. It truly does feel like a piece of your heart goes along with them. It's so easy to question every thing you did or didn't do, what you did or didn't say, and if you had just done that ONE THING differently. We grieve, we question, we accept, and we learn to live a life without that person’s physical presence.
That’s death in its most raw and obvious form—death of someone or something—but I’m not just talking about that kind of death. It can be in the form of a divorce, loss of a job, your home, your health, a friendship... I feel whatever brings a feeling of pain and feels like it breaks you to your core, can be classified as a traumatic experience or a death of some form. How we cope as individuals is a personal choice and my position as I blog is not to tell you how I think you should move through it. It is simply to share my experience, my thoughts, and my perspective with you.
In my experience with trauma, I feel as though a little piece of me has died with each traumatic experience I have had. I have grieved the loss of myself through those experiences. I've learned that this is such an important part of trauma. Why, though? My answer is this: Trying to hold on to the person you were prior to your trauma is like holding a broken glass and hoping its gonna look exactly the same when you put it back together. I have learned to accept, for me, that it is not possible to do that, so I grieve and I allow myself to grieve. I give myself that space, time, and patience to move through it and to come to a place of acceptance. With each trauma, with each death, a little piece of me dies. Does it mean I am broken? Absolutely not. I can't change what has happened, and I have learned that coming to a place of acceptance is where the healing truly begins. Accepting that the glass is broken, but you are not. You can still be put back together, and you can still thrive and find the beauty in life and within—beyond that trauma.
Acceptance has been a word that I have returned to often this year. I accept that I have stage IV cancer. I accept the moments I have sat in front of a doctor to be told treatment isn't working anymore. I accept that I lost my breasts. I accept that my life looks much different than the lives of most people my age. I accept that I have and I will continue to lose friends because of what I choose to do as my life purpose. I accept that we live in a really messed up world right now and there isn't one ounce of normalcy about it. I accept that all of these moments have happened.I cannot change them, and I accept that. Most importantly, I accept that I will likely continue to lose little pieces of me with each piece of trauma that falls upon me. I acknowledge and internally verbalize that it doesn't mean I am broken. It just means that I may look a little different each time my glass is put pack together. I have learned to be at peace with that. It is how I choose to handle my trauma.
Life is full of peaks and valleys. From experience, I know how hard it is to climb out of the valley, how traumatic that valley might feel in the moment. I know how hard it can seem to envision the view from that peak you so badly want to climb. Getting there means work and it might mean you come out with bruises and scars. It might mean that you're leaving a little piece of you in that valley and THAT'S OKAY!!!! You are still you. Your heart is still your heart. Maybe you choose to love a little harder. Maybe you choose to take that extra 10 minutes instead of rushing time away. Maybe you choose to forgive a little easier. Maybe the impact of your trauma is meant to transition you in a way that forces you to love a little harder. Maybe it forces you to re-evaluate your priorities and what brings you happiness.
As I have personally navigated trauma, loss, death, and everything in between, I have discovered new pieces of me that I personally choose to give attention to and work on. There is absolutely NO time limit on healing from a death or a traumatic experience. You owe yourself kindness and patience as you move through it. As we learn to accept what has happened and what our "new glass" looks like, I truly feel it is when we begin to heal ourselves. I truly believe it is when we begin to discover who we truly are. Give yourself permission to forgive you! Give yourself permission to heal you! Give yourself permission to accept you might be a new you!
There is so much beauty behind it all, and what an incredible gift it is to give yourself. Whatever it is that is making you feel broken in this moment, whatever trauma you might be experiencing, I hope you can take a moment to pick up the pieces, put yourself back together, and accept that this life is so far beyond our control—and that you are never fully broken. Even if those little tiny shards are impossible to find, the beauty can simply be in the light that shines in them, the light that shines within you, and the light and love that was left inside of your heart through them.