“All drama is trauma.”
The words floated though my head while sipping my black coffee. I saw my group mates ponder as my mentor held the silence, as was common when he arrived at his conclusion. My mind hummed, “and you know what, everyone has had a dramatic childhood.”
Now let me say this, many people can attest to having heard my response to” how was your childhood?” be the standard, “Good, I have a pretty normal family.” (Seriously the craziness is 2 generations removed.) But ironically, it was merely a statement of ignorance that lacked the self-awareness to admit or even identify the stress and “drama” of my own life and it’s tangible ripples.
The thing I find is that trauma is the experience of drama or significant stress; (whatever phrase makes you happy). I break up trauma to ‘Big T Trauma’ & ‘little t trauma.’
- Big T Trauma is what most people think of when they hear trauma (or PTSD): physical abuse, sexual assault, military combat, neglect, murder, etc. Obviously dramatic experiences. Typically these experiences are very psychologically stressful and activate ones’ brain stem as seen with fight, flight, or freeze responses. Yet, the little t trauma often goes undiscussed and unexplored. Here is where we explore…
- Little t trauma are the stressful experiences that do not quite register as life or death, yet are stressful enough that people are operating in their limbic system or amygdala instead of the more logical and even keel prefrontal cortex. The trauma may be life or death or may have no real tangible basis of danger, yet that doesn’t matter. The major factor in the categorization of trauma is the individual’s perspective or perception of the dramatic experience. For example, one can see the range of trauma of the impact of parental divorce on a child. For some children it may seem like a world ending apocalypse, while others quickly accept it as the assumed and inevitable path of the family and life. Such is Trauma.
Thus, I encourage everyone to explore how the dramatic experiences in their own life have help shaped them, often leading to over and under developed character traits (a post forthcoming on this). The key is to take time to grieve ones’ traumatic experiences to allow healing. Such healing allows one to respond to the present as it is, rather then to react in the now to unresolved trauma is the past.
How Your Past Affects your Present Series 1