The Long Tail of Trauma
I was having a conversation with my therapist the other day. He was telling me about a book he had read about the legacy of war trauma. He commented on ‘the long tail of trauma’.
That language really resonated with me, both personally and professionally.
Although I feel more empowered and fulfilled than ever before at this stage of my life, at times I am still affected by ‘the long tail of trauma’.
The following poem that I wrote earlier this year, illustrates this ……
deep sadness sits
at the base of my belly
ready to explode
grab my throat
choke the words of pain,
the words just sit there
like he used to do to me
so long ago.
in the privacy of our bedroom,
that room reserved for intimacy.
the legacy of this still lives on,
no matter how much transformation
I have mastered over the years.
this is the nature of complex PTSD,
wish more people understood it.
I teach about it now …
but that is little comfort when
the enduring sadness takes hold
I bow my head and cry.
In my work I sit with many people who are still dealing with the ‘long tail of trauma’, many years after the traumatic event or events. So important that we talk about our feelings associated with trauma that still disturb or upset us. This may include talking with our close friends, family, and/or therapist; those that we feel safe enough to talk deeply with. It is not wise to talk with those who cannot understand or meet us in our pain and despair. It is essential to resist judging ourselves for not being over that by now!
Healing and recovery just do not work in a finite way, especially with the tentacles of trauma that may grab us unawares at any time. The grief and loss associated with trauma may always be present in our lives. I have learnt to live with that reality more gently in my life these days.
Let’s be gentle with our struggle with depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, which may all be a consequence of physical, sexual, psychological and/or emotional trauma. Let us respect ourselves and others, for the courage and tenacity it takes to live with traumatic injury, not always visible on the outside, and be patient with the journey that is required to build robustness of heart and soul again.