a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
Everyone feels or experiences trauma to a different degree. Some handle it well, others do not. Some go through small things, while others experience drastic ones. Unfortunately for me, my traumatic events like to keep happening. Especially recently — I feel like I can never get a break. After going through family issues, being in my second abusive relationship, losing a grandparent for the second time, going through a nasty breakup and a big move, and switching from a job I had been with for over two years, I thought it was done and that I would have a moment to breathe.
Boy was I wrong.
In 2019, I turned 21. I couldn't wait to be opened to a whole new world with my friends and family. I celebrated my birthday with my sick grandma because ironically enough, we share the day. After seeing her, I had an awesome night with my family (who got me JONAS BROTHERS TICKETS???!!!) and my long-term boyfriend. I returned to work the next day, feeling happy and refreshed, and feeling like I was about to get the break I deserved.
Not even 24 hours later, my dad called me to let me know my grandmother had passed. I was distraught, left work, and rushed over to my family's house. The worst part was seeing my grandfather lose his best friend. The whole situation reminded me of when my maternal grandmother died, and a lot of old memories came back to me. As if things couldn't get worse, not even five days later, my mom called me on my way home from work to let me know that my cousin had been in a life-threatening car accident. She followed up the call later to let me know he had passed. I spent the rest of the day wondering why everything had to happen at once. "Is this what turning 21 gets me?" I remember repeating that all day every day.
The following week was Thanksgiving, but because I had two family members pass away on both sides of my family, no one really knew what to do. It was a really awkward and sad holiday. The funerals were set for the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. I had to go straight from a funeral to trying to have a good time seeing my favorite boy band. I just remember asking myself if I even deserved anything positive that I was getting amongst all the negatives.
After that, my job started getting less fun and more annoying, I didn't talk to my friends quite as much as I used to, and I just felt unmotivated. Life started getting harder, and every single thing that had happened in the last two years was slowly creeping up on me. Even things from years ago that I wanted to forget were resurfacing.
I knew I had to do something before I got completely sucked under.
I started appreciating the positive people in my life, and either letting go of the negative ones or accepting the fact of them letting me go. What is the sense of trying to keep around a toxic friend that doesn't uplift you, even when you're trying to uplift and interact with them?
I thanked my mom and boyfriend for their support. They were so concerned about me and my well-being, they would get together and work on ways to help me feel better. Rather than tear my support system down and try and handle things on my own, I accepted the help and felt appreciated.
I started going to therapy. Am I afraid to say that? Not at all. Talking to someone who knows nothing about you and has an outside opinion is AWESOME! You get to see from more than just one side, and it actually helps you a lot.
I started a new job. I found a job I had wanted for a long time, and after years of saying I was going to apply I actually did — it paid off. I'm blessed to work at a place with an amazing support team and to have found something I'm naturally drawn to.
Am I 100 percent OK? No, not at all. Will I ever be? Maybe not. But doing all this helped me and kept me going. I have hard days here and there, and some things will never go away, but I have come so far, I know I can only go up further.
When faced with trauma, you have two choices.
1. You let it completely engulf you until it eats you away and you are lost.
2. You take the trauma, learn from it, and grow into a beautiful human despite anything you may have been through.
I know first hand that doing the second one seems nearly impossible sometimes. But it's not. There are so many small things you can start doing to slowly heal yourself. You have to remember that YOU are amazing, YOU are worth it, and NOTHING you have been through can define you.
Also, never be afraid to ask for help every once in a while.
A cry for help doesn't make you weak, going to therapy doesn't make you crazy, and needing a support team to give you a push doesn't make you unstable.
In fact, in my opinion, it makes you braver. The fact that you can stand up after being knocked down, start picking the pieces up, and acknowledge that you might need a little help is super amazing.
Healing isn't a quick process. It's not even a pretty one. It's quite ugly. It's mood swings, PTSD flashbacks, nights of crying or not being able to sleep, and tons of overthinking. But as the days go by, you'll feel naturally happier and more positive, your tears will come less, you'll be able to think at the moment, and sleeping will be normal again.
I promise you, you are not your trauma.
You are bigger, you are better, you are way more than that.
Your trauma is part of your story but it does not define you.
Your healing is the end result.
YOU are you because you walked away from it stronger.
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