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Blog

Trauma Tuesday

Amber Adrian

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I look fairly normal, right?

Nope!

Turns out, I’ve been a walking bundle of traumatized nerves my whole life.

I, hand-to-god, had no earthly idea.

While the world is a traumatic place, I haven’t been through any noticeable trauma (dead dads and miscarriage and breakups aside), so I assumed the word didn’t apply to me.

But there’s a whole subtle trauma underground. Emotional trauma, systemic trauma, empath trauma. They’re like the ninja turtles of trauma: Big, green and will karate chop the heck out of your throat, but no one quite believes they’re real.

After a charged but ultimately no-big-deal conversation on Tuesday night, I catapulted into a 24-hour period of shaking, must-flee, all-my-feels-are-like-fingernails-down-the-chalkboard-of-my-system panic experience.

Needless to say, it was zero fun.

It didn’t really cool down until I ran to the network chiropractor’s office the next day for the first slot they could give me, threw myself down on the table, and yelled “FIX ME!” Which they did.

In the past, I thought I was just being an overly-sensitive drama queen.

That’s the thing about emotional neglect and self-abandonment. (Two terms I don’t particularly care for but have been reading about anyway because they seem to explain a lot.) They’re more or less invisible.

We humans are deeply adept at normalizing and sweeping things under the rug - mostly because we don’t realize it’s an issue or know what to do about it if we do happen to notice.

It’s only been recently that I’ve recognized that this sort of reaction to a fight or any kind of harsh energy or emotion isn’t normal. Or maybe it’s all too normal and few of us really know what to do or how to talk about it.

After my system kicks into high-octane fight-or-flight (but mostly flight), I cease functioning in any normal fashion. I flood, my brain goes hazy, and I become one giant throbbing nerve.

Which is just as much fun as it sounds.

I’ve done a lot of emotional and energy healing, but my poor physical nervous system is so tweaked it can take me down in a hot second at the first sign of trouble.

This is why I have never allowed myself to do any kind of drugs or keep any kind of sleep aids or alcohol in the house, because in these flooded, panicked, in-severe-wracking-systemic-and-emotional-pain moments I will toss back anything handy without giving the first damn.

Which means that on Tuesday night, when I was mid-trauma-trigger, I didn’t have so much as a spare melatonin tablet.

So I went for a drive instead, which may have not been the best plan, all things considered. Luckily, it was after midnight and no one is on the road in Marin. I drove around Tiburon until I calmed down enough to go home, then I worked until I calmed down enough to go to sleep. Then I woke up with a pounding heart, a deep sense of dread, and no idea how to feel better.

The hardest piece of this is the Having No Idea How To Feel Better.

Suddenly, my attraction to energy healing makes sense. For the longest time, it was the only thing that helped me feel better.

To be fair, I have a much better idea of how to feel better than I did in my twenties. Sometimes I can even remember that the trauma spin cycle will eventually end, leaving me much better off. But it’s hard to believe, mid-trigger.

What I learned to do was avoid trauma-triggers. Which means it’s very hard for me to have an argument with someone or, really, any kind of meaningful relationship. Because something jagged eventually and inevitably crops up that requires normal-person communication and possibly a bit of a disagreement and my poor overloaded system just can’t deal. So I run away, silently screaming.

Empaths end up wrangling insane amounts of trauma. Because every human on the planet has been traumatized in some way or another, and very few of them have the privilege of the time, money, help, and knowledge needed to heal. So we just go around sucking it up, all day long.

Energetic boundaries are great, but - as I am currently realizing - very difficult to hold up when your physical system is compromised.

Add in inherited ancestral trauma, whatever you got growing up (because your parents got it growing up), and any of the things that actually happen to you in your life, and it amazes me that anyone gets out of bed. Much less holds down a job and goes to the grocery store in any sort of regular fashion.

Long story short, I had no idea my system was holding so much trauma, and now I know so I guess I get to do something about it.

Big hug to all the other traumatized bundles of raw nerves walking around out there like normal people. You’ve got this.