There are so many people that have been through trauma. Sexual abuse, natural disasters, loss of a life, terrorist attacks; the list goes on and on. For people that have never been through a traumatic experience or are able to cope with the situation and not have it affect them as much, that is an amazing feat. Some of us haven’t been that lucky. A traumatic experience has happened and then nobody else knows how it is affecting you, this would make you feel lonely. The beginning stages of depression start taking over and we all know where this goes.
My traumatic experiences came on slowly and just one at a time. First, sexual abuse on 4 different accounts, then my father passed, then I allowed addiction to take over and spiraled down from there. This is over the course of 20 years. None of these situations were handled at the time of the occurrences. It wasn’t until I was at my lowest and suicidal that help was sought out and I began to recognize all of the build-up that had occurred over the years. Built up anger, hate, sadness, worthlessness, and many other emotions were pushed to the side just to function in my day to day life. Holding on to so many different feelings would overwhelm anyone. It was no wonder I ended up numbing these feelings. Who on earth would want all of that stacked against their possibility of happiness? I found ways to indulge in different activities and substances, so I wouldn’t feel anything besides positive nostalgia.
When I started my therapy, I didn’t want to tell anyone about my history. That was my personal secret closet of consuming hatred for life. If I opened that door I would end up looking extremely crazy and out of control. I was only there for my depression and mental disorder. According to me, I didn’t have anger issues. I didn’t have emotional brokenness. I felt things just fine like everyone else. But that wasn’t true. The door was just still closed. Opening that door and letting everything flow between rooms was just a relief. Knowing when to open the door and when to close it is what my coping skills have taught me over the last few years.
When I’m talking with my support people, I open that door and let everything come to a head. When I’m with my kids or need to focus on life in the ‘here and now’, I close that door and lock it. This is what works for me. Imagining the key and turning the knob, is when I sit down and say I need to talk. The people that understand what I’m going though know that their door has to open, too. We share our secrets and then we both lock it back up and know that our secrets are behind two doors makes it a lot easier to handle. For one, you know that the other person has a lock on their hidden room, so your secrets are safe. Two: You’re not alone anymore. And three, you know you can lock the door! It’s not going to open on its own, like in the past. You have the key and you have the power to control it.
For us ‘different thinkers’ this is a strange subtle relief that you don’t even know you have until someone tries to open your door for you. They push your buttons and try to get a reaction out of you. They know you will snap because you always have. The pressure of past trauma has always taken over before, so why not now? You will feel a light wave of relief when you realize you don’t have to let your anger out. Your door is locked. It is the attacker that has their own door wide open.
Keep yourself calm and let the feelings pass. When the time comes you will know when it is ok to express yourself in a drastic manner. Let it all out, cry, scream, punch something, whatever you need to do to put yourself back together, without letting others judge how you are reacting. Judgement is a whole other topic for another time, though. Try to see if you can keep your secrets safe with a friend. You will feel better, just keep working at it. The trail is long, but totally worth the climb.