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 ……

Enduring Sadness

deep sadness sits 

at the base of my belly 


ready to explode 

any time. 

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 … 

empower others, 

but that is little comfort when 

the enduring sadness takes hold 

of me. 

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.


Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health.

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About me

Rosalind Lewis

Rosalind Lewis

Professionally I have 33 years experience as a Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and work in Mental Health. I have a particular interest in supporting and empowering women and men to be all they can be, by assisting the discovery of tools that help them find strength to transform difficulties into opportunities, enriching their lives both personally and professionally. I am a New Zealand Registered Psychotherapist with PBANZ, member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists and have a Masters of Health Science (Psychotherapy) First Class Honours. My research thesis was about the long term consequences of intimate partner violence for women. I am influenced and informed by both my professional experiences and my own personal journey, which has involved many challenges and celebrations along the way.