Adversity / Challenge / Denial / Emotional Evolution & Spiritual Growth / Empathy / Escapism / Facing Reality / Forgiveness / Relationships / Self-Help / We Are Connected

Unresolved Trauma: Like Dying on the Cross

cross

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

After reading a book this week on the sometimes debilitating effects of unresolved trauma on a person’s life, I couldn’t help but make the correlation to what is referred to as Holy Week in the Christian faith. This is the week where Christians around the world reflect on the last days of Jesus. It is the anniversary of the week that Jesus was betrayed by his loved ones and those in a position of authority, and ultimately died on the cross for sins he didn’t commit.

A person suffering from the aftereffects of trauma, whether or not they’ve officially been medically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), can feel the way Jesus might’ve felt up on that cross–completely perplexed at having been betrayed and feeling the enormity of that betrayal until his dying breath.

For a person suffering with trauma or suffering with what I’ll call “second-hand” trauma–that is, a spouse or family member who is in the precarious and treacherous position of trying to have a normal relationship with a victim of trauma– life can be filled with confusion, uncertainty, and periodic jabs of pain so severe that everyone involved feels as though they are hanging on a cross. For the trauma victim, severe depression and outbursts of anger express what they cannot put into words. Reckless behavior and suicide speak to a desire to stop the pain.

“Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”

Trauma victims are so deeply affected by wrongdoing upon them that they often have no awareness of their own dysfunction and the affect of their actions on others. They don’t know what they are doing to themselves and to others. Initially, they suffer at the hand of someone else, and then, if they are unable to work through the trauma successfully, eventually suffer at their own hand. They may even, in a wicked twist of irony, harm someone else in the same way they were initially harmed.

“He is risen.”

Today, and always, I want you to know that there is help for you. I want you to know that you can work through this–either by yourself or with the help of a professional. I want you to know that you are not alone, that you are loved, and that you are loveable even when you find it hard to love others and to let them love you. You can rise out of the darkness of trauma. You can live again. You can love again.


 

Here are some resources for help:

SELF-HELP: Do a search on Amazon for:  PTSD and trauma self-help books. If you are concerned about privacy as you do this search, then open a privacy window in your Internet browser so no information is collected during your browsing session. To open a privacy window for YOUR internet browser, do a Google search including your internet browser name (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.) and the following words:  private browsing in Firefox OR private browsing in Chrome OR private browsing in Internet Explorer 

PTSD Help Page through the Veterans Administration

National Suicide Prevention Lineline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

 

15 thoughts on “Unresolved Trauma: Like Dying on the Cross

  1. My heart aches for all of those out there suffering and trying to make it through another day. How kind of you to give some guidance and hope as I suspect you have had personal experience with this and have found your way through. Happy Easter, Sue!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I do have personal experience with this. The one thing that I know for sure is that we can’t save others unless they want to save themselves. There is a deep sadness in those words for spouses/friends/family; there is hope in those words for the victim of trauma. Sadness and hope. That’s pretty much what this holy season is all about.

      Happy Easter to you as well.

      God bless,
      Susan

  2. Thank you for this post. I was wondering whether you had been able to get over your trauma of his trauma. Bring separated now, have you been able to emotionally detach yourself from his reality?
    (Just asking because I still battle with this sometimes).

    • You’re welcome, Elizabeth.

      No, I haven’t been able to get over it entirely. I realize now that someone else’s severe trauma can become trauma in itself to spouse, family, or anyone who must closely interact with that person. I originally intended to study trauma in order to understand my past situation better, to make peace with the difficult choices I’d made but came to recognize myself as I reviewed the potential effects of unresolved trauma.

      But it’s not enough to recognize and understand. Serious work must be done to resolve and alter any ignored traumatic reality that we have been unable to process, label, and deal with properly. Any of those things that we have not been able to talk to ourselves about, let alone anyone else, have the power to own and shape us into a lesser version of ourselves.

      • I think that you are correct. I tend to brush the trauma aside or try and bury it. I don’t have to make it own me but I do believe now that I do need to deal with some past issues. One thing I have found is that I am now able to separate his trauma from my trauma, even though my trauma was dealing with him not dealing with his trauma. But now there is that distinction (and that is separate again from the trauma of the marital split).
        I hope you are well and think of you every time I sit down to my large desk and imagine you without that amount of space and yet you are still able to write such magnificent words. 🙂 .

      • You are sweet, Elizabeth. Thank you.

        Perhaps the biggest fear I have is allowing the past to mess up the present. I have a wonderful relationship now, but my periodic lamenting of the loss of financial certainty (and things symbolic of it–flexibility in choosing a safe and happy place to live, the comfort of a steady income) in the wake of divorce is wearing thin. I have all the most important and valuable things right in my hands right now–primarily, a loving relationship with my now partner–but my momentary relapses hurt both my partner and I deeply. So, there is still work to be done. I need to dig in deeper, label the source of my pain and find a better way of dealing with it. In a way, I’d love to just gloss over it and dismiss it, but I know better. It will not go away until I face it head on.

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this tender topic. I think of you as well, every time I’m scrawling on a pad in a poorly lit part of the room! 🙂

      • I think you hit on an important aspect that no-one wants to talk about – that of the financial impact. We are all supposed to think in terms of values and people. Money is not important. Of course it isn’t. But what you can buy with money is. It is the destruction of the security that stings. The discretionary things people tend to associate with money do not even hit the radar. That is something that I think every divorced person battles with.

      • I have to imagine most divorced people do. We build a kingdom when we enter into marriage, filled with love, trust, and enforced with a gradual acquisition of wealth and security. These are all the things that make us feel ‘safe’ as we get older. Divorce at later stages in life is particularly scary because there often isn’t enough time anymore to rebuild wealth and security. We may no longer be in the height of our careers or may have had significant disruption to career because of time and energy spent on caring for an ill spouse or functioning in a disruptive relationship. That was my predicament and it’s been harder than expected to rebound. There is just so much that this touches on; I could go on all day. But let me say this, Elizabeth. It helps to talk about it. Thanks for your continuing interest in wanting to hash this one out with me.

      • This resonates with me deeply “time and energy spent on caring for an ill spouse or functioning in a disruptive relationship. That was my predicament and it’s been harder than expected to rebound.”
        Except that I would say there is no rebounding because there is nothing to rebound to, so one must transform instead of rebounding. That is the solution, albeit a challenging one.

      • True. There is no way to recover time and energy. It is spent and gone.

        I stand corrected. It’s been harder than expected to transform.
        (You might have caught me in a my own snare. Thanks for the moment of enlightenment!)

    • Thank you, Val. Trauma is an expected element of life. We can’t stop bad things from happening, but trauma becomes a perpetual storm (at it’s worst) or that recurring ‘something’ in our lives (as in “Why does these keep happening to me?”) if it doesn’t get processed correctly. I hope to write about this some more in the near future.

      Peace,
      Sue

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