please always let people know how you feel i cannot stress this enough
1. Trauma permanently changes us.
This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.
This is not a wholly negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life — warts, wisdom, and all — with courage.
2. Presence is always better than distance.
There is a curious illusion that in times of crisis people “need space.” I don’t know where this assumption originated, but in my experience it is almost always false. Trauma is a disfiguring, lonely time even when surrounded in love; to suffer through trauma alone is unbearable. Do not assume others are reaching out, showing up, or covering all the bases.
It is a much lighter burden to say, “Thanks for your love, but please go away,” than to say, “I was hurting and no one cared for me.” If someone says they need space, respect that. Otherwise, err on the side of presence.
3. Healing is seasonal, not linear.
It is true that healing happens with time. But in the recovery wilderness, emotional healing looks less like a line and more like a wobbly figure-8. It’s perfectly common to get stuck in one stage for months, only to jump to another end entirely … only to find yourself back in the same old mud again next year.
Recovery lasts a long, long time. Expect seasons.
4. Surviving trauma takes “firefighters” and “builders.” Very few people are both.
This is a tough one. In times of crisis, we want our family, partner, or dearest friends to be everything for us. But surviving trauma requires at least two types of people: the crisis team — those friends who can drop everything and jump into the fray by your side, and the reconstruction crew — those whose calm, steady care will help nudge you out the door into regaining your footing in the world. In my experience, it is extremely rare for any individual to be both a firefighter and a builder. This is one reason why trauma is a lonely experience. Even if you share suffering with others, no one else will be able to fully walk the road with you the whole way.
A hard lesson of trauma is learning to forgive and love your partner, best friend, or family even when they fail at one of these roles. Conversely, one of the deepest joys is finding both kinds of companions beside you on the journey.
5. Grieving is social, and so is healing.
For as private a pain as trauma is, for all the healing that time and self-work will bring, we are wired for contact. Just as relationships can hurt us most deeply, it is only through relationship that we can be most fully healed.
It’s not easy to know what this looks like — can I trust casual acquaintances with my hurt? If my family is the source of trauma, can they also be the source of healing? How long until this friend walks away? Does communal prayer help or trivialize?
Seeking out shelter in one another requires tremendous courage, but it is a matter of life or paralysis. One way to start is to practice giving shelter to others.
6. Do not offer platitudes or comparisons. Do not, do not, do not.
“I’m so sorry you lost your son, we lost our dog last year … ” “At least it’s not as bad as … ” “You’ll be stronger when this is over.” “God works in all things for good!”
When a loved one is suffering, we want to comfort them. We offer assurances like the ones above when we don’t know what else to say. But from the inside, these often sting as clueless, careless, or just plain false.
Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us, and just let it be terrible for a while.
7. Allow those suffering to tell their own stories.
Of course, someone who has suffered trauma may say, “This made me stronger,” or “I’m lucky it’s only (x) and not (z).” That is their prerogative. There is an enormous gulf between having someone else thrust his unsolicited or misapplied silver linings onto you, and discovering hope for one’s self. The story may ultimately sound very much like “God works in all things for good,” but there will be a galaxy of disfigurement and longing and disorientation in that confession. Give the person struggling through trauma the dignity of discovering and owning for himself where, and if, hope endures.
8. Love shows up in unexpected ways.
This is a mystifying pattern after trauma, particularly for those in broad community: some near-strangers reach out, some close friends fumble to express care. It’s natural for us to weight expressions of love differently: a Hallmark card, while unsatisfying if received from a dear friend, can be deeply touching coming from an old acquaintance.
Ultimately every gesture of love, regardless of the sender, becomes a step along the way to healing. If there are beatitudes for trauma, I’d say the first is, “Blessed are those who give love to anyone in times of hurt, regardless of how recently they’ve talked or awkwardly reconnected or visited cross-country or ignored each other on the metro.” It may not look like what you’d request or expect, but there will be days when surprise love will be the sweetest.
9. Whatever doesn’t kill you …
In 2011, after a publically humiliating year, comedian Conan O’Brien gave students at Dartmouth College the following warning:
"Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.”
Odd things show up after a serious loss and creep into every corner of life: insatiable anxiety in places that used to bring you joy, detachment or frustration towards your closest companions, a deep distrust of love or presence or vulnerability.
There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.
10. … Doesn’t kill you.
Living through trauma may teach you resilience. It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.
It also may not.
In the end, the hope of life after trauma is simply that you have life after trauma. The days, in their weird and varied richness, go on. So will you.
Catherine Woodiwiss, “A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma”
geesh this was nice to read
[Gifset: Laverne Cox speaks at the GLAAD media awards, she says,
"Each and every one of us has the capacity to be an oppressor. I want to encourage each and every one of us to interrogate how we might be an oppressor, and how we might be able to become liberators for ourselves and each other."]
That awkward moment when I bear shows more humanity than humans.
The bear literally has no reason to do this other than kindness.
|—||Robin Sharma (via pureblyss)|
“There has been a lot of evil in the world. But to me, none as great as slavery. It’s the worst thing that has ever happened. They take you from your home. They take you from your family, your history. They make you work. They tell you when to mate. They chop off your foot if you try to run away. And I’m sorry to say this, but white people did that. And black people are still living with the remnants. For over 200 years, black people built this country and didn’t get a single dollar. And sure, it isn’t happening anymore, but we’re still living with the remnants. We don’t have the same connections, the same powerful friends, the same access to capital. I tell young African Americans that they’ll do just fine, but they’re going to have to work twice as hard. I tell them that they will need to go out of their way to search for their identity. They aren’t going to find much about their heritage in the history books. Even the constitution classifies black people as three-fifths of a man, and that was supposedly written by the most enlightened, glorified white people of that time. I tell young African Americans that they are going to have to dig hard to find out the giant contributions that Africa made to civilization, because they aren’t going to find it on the television. And I tell them that just because it’s a tough road does not excuse them from personal responsibility. I tell them that God put them on earth to build and not destroy. And I tell them that some opportunities cost money, but books are absolutely free.”
|—||Jonathan Carroll (via theremina)|
|—||Attachments, Rainbow Rowell (via stellablu)|
|—||Tracee Ellis Ross (via wordsthat-speak)|
What do you think about all the people who don’t understand feminism? Especially the women who supposedly “are against feminism because they don’t hate men”? Should we argue or is it a lost cause?
No, we shouldn’t argue. We should teach. We should enlighten. We should in the friendliest of spirits and without the slightest trace of condescension drop so much fucking knowledge on those people that it crushes their flawed and simplistic understanding of gender politics.
We should be patient in the face of ignorance until we know for sure that it is willful. We should give them every opportunity to change their minds, because at the end of the day, very few people are built around a core of malignant, incurable misogyny. Very few people have a world view so grotesque that they actually believe women should be subjugated. Very few people will openly admit that equality isn’t a noble pursuit — especially women for whom so often their only fault is being misguided about the fundamental concepts.
No one is a lost cause until we find out for sure that their identity is tied to an aggressively misogynistic belief system, and when we come across those broken souls, we don’t argue. That’s wasted breath. We simply mark them with red flags and keep them at arm’s length, because those are the ones who aren’t safe to be around.
While we celebrated LGBT Pride in June, four trans women of color were murdered across the country.
|—||Junot Diaz (via virginalvalour)|
- date the kind of people who will still respect you when you no longer love them
- date the kind of people who will still respect you when they no longer love you
- do not waste your emotional capacities on people whose respect for you is conditional
this is terribly important