Yesterday…during my, admittedly, incessant Facebook scrolling…I came across a checklist of how to know you’re healing from your trauma. This list stopped me right in my tracks.
I instantly recognized that three years ago…I was almost healed.
(Not to say it wouldn’t be a part of my life anymore, but that I could feel…OKAY…with my past).
I also instantly recognized WHY I had backslid.
One of the main prerequisites for healing from trauma is recognizing that the shame of crimes against you does not belong to you.
How do we battle shame? Vulnerability and openness.
But people shy away from vulnerable conversations.
Why? Because vulnerable conversations about a less than perfect world make people uncomfortable by threatening their bubble of safety.
Rather than admit that bad things happen that we can not control, it is easier to label someone dramatic or attention seeking…it is easier to assume that they exaggerate or focus too much on the negative.
Uncomfortable conversations are threatening…and should be avoided at all costs.
So, let’s think about this.
You meet someone new…you want to know them…you want them to know you. What makes them tick? What makes you you?
You tell them amusing antectodes about your childhood or early life. You talk about the moments that shaped you. They want to do the same. But…the topic at hand…they have no amusing anecdotes about what shaped them…they have this big THING that they’ve navigated to become who they are…in a way that you will only understand if you understand what led them there.
They have 3 options.
1. They can hide behind their shame and make something up.
2. They can hide behind their shame and say nothing…probably losing the chance at this new friendship because they obviously are hiding something.
3. They can be vulnerable….they can tell their story…with the knowledge that the shame that comes with their story is not theirs to claim.
What should they do?
I had reached a point where I accepted that the shame for the *literal* crimes committed against me was not mine to claim.
I had reached a point where I was able to openly tell my story…without panic…without tears…without fearing judgment.
The thing is…I had reached that point with very supportive people in my life. I felt safe.
But…I ventured out…I met knew people…I took that newfound strength and continued being this vulnerable, open version of me.
Not really their fault…but those people weren’t ready for that vulnerability. They couldn’t understand. They found the topics uncomfortable…scary…and, through their own self defense mechanisms, probably untrue…because it was too uncomfortable to face that it could be true. That this could happen to anyone.
We all recognize judgment when we see it. Those with a particular past recognize it a little more quickly. And…some don’t bother to hide their judgment because they consider that (fairly) being real. (I say fairly because no one should have to hide their feelings…that right doesn’t belong only to the traumatized.)
I recognized the judgment. I handled it in two ways. First…I got LOUDER. I WILL NOT BE SHAMED, DAMN IT!! Then…I reclaimed the shame. OBVIOUSLY THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME.
Annnnndddd…back to square one on healing. Back to feeling like I should apologize for the life I lived. Back to panicking…Back to crying…Back to fear.
You guys…I KNOW that I’m annoyingly vulnerable at times. I do this for my own healing…I do this so I can feel as known as you get to feel…I also do this to show others that it can be safe to be vulnerable.
This is why uncomfortable conversations are so important.
Do you want to know the people in your life as well as you want them to know you? Do you want them to feel safe? Or do you want them to hide behind a harmful, misplaced sense of shame.
But…another made up ratio…let’s say 85% of you are scared of these uncomfortable conversations.
99.99% of the people who read this are NOT actually self absorbed twatopotamuses (twatopotamees? twatopotami?) 99.99% of you don’t want people to feel shame for something done to them.
To you, I ask…are you going to place shame in order to avoid your own discomfort? Are you going to lean away from vulnerability and healing?
Or are you going to lean in?
Please lean in.