When it comes to writing on here, the only rule I have is that I write when I feel like it and not because I have to. I kind of didn’t feel like it the last few weeks. But last night I was sitting on my bed after having a panic attack because of a big black spider in my room. And since I had to do anything else but thinking about this spider, I thought about writing this. And here we are.
Trauma is a weird thing. It descripes a “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience” which influences our future behavior. After writing my last post about sexual assault, which is definitely a traumatic experience and called a “trauma”, I thought I was really lucky that I never experienced any kind of trauma. But that’s not entirely true.
Let’s go back to the spider, I’m trying really really hard not to think about. Fears often are a resault of traumatic experiences, we’ve had at some point in our lives. Now, I do remember a loooot of ecounters with that said spider when I was really young. My reaction was always the same – freaking out. Always. However, I never really know why I have this phobia and how it was created.
Anyway, I know that panic attacks and PTSD, which a lot of people experience after living through a traumatic situation, are not the same thing. Panic attacks accure because they are triggered by certain events, like me meeting the spider in my pitch-black room at 11pm. PTSD however, is an illness which often happens after people went through a traumatic experience like wars or being a victim of a crime. I think the main difference is that PTSD is triggered by something, that reminds us of a situation that actually happened to us. Panic attacks however are a more of a reaction towards something that scares us so much, that we think we might die. And our body reacts like we could. (Obviously, you could still get a panic attack because you’ve got PTSD and got triggered. But I think it’s easier to understand if you seperate those two things.)
Back to my spider phobia. Again, I don’t know why I’m that afraid of spiders. And I know that “ThEy ARe sO mUcH SmaLLEr thAn me” (always really helpful btw) and that they won’t kill me. (I guess.) But even tho I know all these things, my body reacts really different. And sometimes, when we go trough traumatic experiences, we can’t remember them. We suppress them and forget about them. But our bodies don’t. Babies who get abandonend by their parents at a really young age can’t recall that consciously. (That would be really creepy.) But a body knows and remembers what it feels like to be left alone. Even at this young age.
So much about trauma our mind forgets, but our body remembers. But what about trauma we actually remember? I’ve said before that I’ve never went through traumatic situations. But if trauma is something that influences our behavior, I’m wrong.
Someone I knew committed suicide, which probably counts as a traumatic experience. However, grief is another topic I don’t wanna talk about today.
But three years ago, I had a car accident. It wasn’t my fault (which made it worse because I realized that even tho I have everything under control, someone else doesn’t and this other person affects my life. And I can’t do anything about it.) The accident wasn’t that bad in the end. In that moment tho, it felt worse. The “funny” thing is that I can’t remember the 3 or 4 seconds of the accident itself. It’s like my memory cut this part out. And I was freaking out (kind of like losing it last night). However, I drove again the next day. I was scared as hell. Especially in the dark. And I was really scared when I was just the passenger and not even driving by myself. I had all these flashbacks, which lasted like a second or two and it was just those lights from the car coming towards me. (That’s more PTSD than a panic attack btw.) And it scared me so much. But I knew the only way this PTSD wasn’t gonna last was if I confronted myself with the reality – which was: I had to drive. I like to drive. And 99% of the time when I’m driving, I will be fine.
My brain learned from the accident that it wasn’t save to drive. Which is actually smart, because it wants me to survive. (Most of the time at least.) However I knew that it was an accident. It was a matter of seconds and a matter of contretemps. (I never took this road, until that day. I don’t know why I did it that day. But I did.) So I had to relearn that driving is safe. That accidents aren’t the normality. And I did. By driving. During the day in the beginning. And then during the night. And today I can even drive on this road again (and tell who ever is in the car with me that THAT is the exact place where I had my car accident. Lol).
I’m not gonna lie it took about two years for me to not go around cars anymore, which were appearing from the side road and almost causing accidents in the opposite lane. But today, I can honestly say, that I don’t do that anymore (well 95% of the time). I overcame this trauma, by doing exactly what I was scared of.
Now, I know I’m NOT a therapist or psychologist. I’m just a girl who reads and thinks too much. And I know that there are “worse” traumas than a car accident. But trauma can’t and shouldn’t be compared. There is no little or big trauma. And there isn’t one way to cope for everyone because trauma is indvidual. With the car accident it helped me a lot to confront my fears. However, I would never ever voluntarily confront myself with a spider. Never. (To me the right solution for this fear is just to run and close my eyes tbh.)
And I do think that most people just want to forget about what happened to them. Which is understandable. But suppressing emotions almost never work. Because even if you are able to forget, your body will remember. Your reactions will show you that. And I don’t think that you can “solve” traumas. And maybe you don’t have to.
Last time when I wrote about a survivor of sexual assault, she said something that stuck with me. “I know that what happened to me is a problem. But I know that it doesn’t has to be one in a year or two. Because I get to decide how I feel about it.”
You maybe can’t solve trauma. You can’t change the past. But you can accept that it is an issue that happened to you but that it is something you can heal from. You can overcome it, because you get to decide how you feel about it and what you want to do with your experience. And with overcoming I don’t mean to completely forget about it like it never happened. Because it did. But to live a beautiful life despite of it. Experiences shape us. They make us us. The good ones but also the bad ones. You are your beautiful self because of what happened to you.
So maybe, at some point in your life, no matter how long it’ll take you, you’ll only remember your trauma as something that was a terrible experience, but that made you even stronger. And maybe today isn’t the day. Some days, it’s just enough to get up in the morning. But other days will come.
And maybe after time, even your trauma becomes a beautiful part of you somehow.
That being said, I will try to overcome my latest traumatic experience by leaving my bed in the dark. Or maybe today, I’ll just try to leave it with my flashlight on.
Because it’s about all the small steps we take along the way. But the important thing is that we keep walking.
Love, Lea. ♡