Many of us have experienced some sort of trauma in our life, from physical, emotional, to sexual. But what exactly is trauma and what does it mean for everyone? Trauma, at its simplest terms, can be defined as distress caused by an event. Trauma can also apply to injury of the physical body, but this is not the type of trauma we are referring to.
When someone says they have trauma, that often means they have something in their past that has caused them to suffer emotionally for years after the event. Trauma is carried for a lifetime, but how we respond to it can change.
It’s also important to note that trauma is subjective, it is different for everyone. What is traumatic for someone may not be for others. Thus, it is not possible to define what is and isn’t trauma, as everyone’s trauma is valid if it caused them emotional turmoil after the event.
Let’s look at a few examples, a young girl who was verbally and physically abused by her parents, and left alone and neglected for hours on end, may develop various negative coping mechanisms and disorders as a result of how she was treated as a child. Because of her neglect, she may develop borderline personality disorder, and always want others around because she fears abandonment, unable to form healthy relationships.
Another person who dealt with the same exact abuse had a far different outcome and maybe pushes others away before they can hurt them, also due to the same underlying fear of abandonment. Or what about another person who developed no disorder of fear of abandonment?
What is common among all three people is that they endured the same traumatic experience, but they all reacted differently. Many more outcomes can happen with this form of trauma, from narcissistic personality disorder emerging, to severe depression and isolation, and everything in between. But the person who came out unscathed without any serious mental conditions, they may not call this event traumatic to them because they may not have felt it was traumatic. Yet the others will recall the horrific details as it still impacts them today.
Let’s look at another scenario, someone is stung by a bee and developed a phobia of bees and the location where they were stung brings about flashbacks. Their trauma is the bee sting. For most people this event would not be called trauma. However, for this individual, they have flashbacks and terrible memories, they cannot go around the location they were stung or be around places that are similar to it. They were greatly affected by this, but most people wouldn’t be. This is because each and every one of our minds works differently.
One of the worst things you can say to someone who is dealing with past trauma is, “I had it worse than you.” While to you it may seem worse what happened in your life, you cannot delegitimize someone else’s traumatic experiences just because they were different from yours.
So remember, trauma is subjective and while there can be different levels of abuse, each and every person responds to situations differently. But with proper therapy, one can overcome the burden the trauma has on one’s life.
Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!
As someone who has been through various forms of traumatic experiences, I’ve managed to overcome much of the stress and obstacles. Trauma can only impact your life if you let it, and I wasn’t going to take anymore of iit so I took control of my life, saw a therapist who helped me realize what was really going on, and worked diligently at facing my fears and overcoming my challenges. While people certainly had it worse than me, what I experienced greatly impacted my life and I managed to move past it in a healthy manner, and so can anyone else dealing with trauma.