Tides of Change and Trauma
Trauma. What is it? How does it happen? Have you experienced it?
We would never wish for another to experience trauma, however, we all do at some point in our lives. In our own way. Whether it is a dog bite or a car accident, trauma is the after effect of an overwhelming, life-threatening or life-taking situation.
If you have experienced a trauma, you may understand that people handle these experiences in different ways. Some of us go into shock, denial, or hide emotions. Others may be overly expressive or relive the scenario. Our reactions manifest in many different forms.
The reason I am writing and thinking about trauma (such a cheery topic, I know!) is because my family recently encountered a traumatic situation. The scenario was serious enough to end my travels sooner than expected and bring me back to my hometown. Overnight, my path changed course. I went from an independent, free-spirit, living and working in Maui, to a full-time caregiver in Connecticut.
Life takes unexpected turns and I embraced the change, grateful that that my family was ok and believing that the Universe was sending me in this direction for a reason. However, it is important for me to share this, to share this darker moment in a time where I was filled with so much light…because none of us are immune to it.
As much as social media is a beautiful outlet for connection and free-expression, I also believe it can paint unrealistic pictures of peoples’ lives. I was fortunate enough to take this summer to travel and move to Hawaii. However, it was not easy! Contrary to popular belief, I was not sipping piña coladas in a coconut bra on the beach all day (although that would have been ideal.) Traveling is hard, change is hard, starting a life somewhere new is HARD. Yes, palm trees are pretty and oceans are vast. Yes, I had amazing experiences filled with new people and a new set of eyes for the world. However, I missed my loved ones, I was sometimes uncomfortable, I was scared and doubted myself at times. Pictures may be pretty, but remember life is REAL. In the end, it does not matter what we see through our eyes, but what we see on the inside.
With all this being said, the point I would like to convey is that life is not a flat road. It is a hilly obstacle course filled with dirt pits and rock walls. We all have times when we get slapped in the face by life. For me, it was an experience that rattled my family and reiterated the fragility of life. So when your life takes a sharp turn, when emotions are running high and the quake of a trauma ripples, what do we do? Continue to fill up our cup! Continue to be grateful for the things we have; including life, breath, waking up to the sun, being able to eat, walk, talk, sing, laugh, smell the roses. We are blessed with millions of gifts every day, but we often choose to focus on what we do not have or what we may have lost. What is that about!? This does not mean we have to be a 24 hour ball of happiness. When going through trauma or hardships, it is ok to cry, to honor the healing process. However, we must stay consistent in taking care of ourselves. To continue to practice gratitude even though it will be harder to see, to continue creating time for ourselves, to fill up with everlasting waves of love.
If becoming a caregiver has taught me one thing, it is that it is imperative to take time to care for ourselves as well. Leaning on our community and taking an hour or so a day to walk through the changing leaves, hike with no destination, practice yoga, read poems, play an instrument, color, meet with friends, laugh. Being a caregiver has reminded me of the simplicities in life. Slowing down and focusing on our essential human needs. If trauma has taught me one thing, it is to be grateful for the good days (because there are many) and honor the bad. To embrace the reality of an ever-changing life with no control. We never know what life will bring. Stay grounded and remember what is truly important. Kiss your loved ones ever day and thank yourself. Thank yourself for being alive. Because that in itself is a beautiful gift.