When trauma re-surfaces…
There are a lot of myths about trauma, one of which is that you process what happened straight away and that you can process it quickly. For some people this is true, but for others the impact of trauma can push to the front of your daily life at unexpected times, in unexpected ways.
The impact of trauma is very powerful as it forces our lives and sense of self to be re-configured. It also makes the timeline of our lives difficult to manage and understand, as the past re-enters the present.
However trauma re-surfaces, it isn’t a personal failure. It doesn’t mean you aren’t handling it well enough, that you should be over it, nor that you’re letting other people down by not being okay.
Lots of people worry about suddenly being affected by something traumatic that happened a long time ago, especially when they have been coping with it well for most of that time. For some certain life stages are re-triggering including the anniversary of the traumatic event, a perpetrator of violence dying, and one’s child reaching the age that they were when they were abused.
Other events are re-triggering such as letting others know about your experiences, whether this be loved ones or formal institutions like the criminal justice system. Seeing someone else struggle with trauma can remind you what you’ve been through, making psychological and embodied contact with something you haven’t thought about in a long time.
Trauma is not only interwoven into the lives of those who survive it but within families, communities, institutions, and societal systems. It is normal to be triggered by a world that is traumatising, especially if your traumatic experience included being hurt by other people.
When trauma re-surfaces it’s helpful to think of it in the context of your own chronology to understand why now, as well as what you want to do about it right now. The ‘why’ might not be clear, but the truth is that you have survived and lived with trauma so far, so you’re not starting from scratch in continuing to cope.