January 15th. It’s a date that seems like another cold, winter day. But for me – it’s a day that I can never forget: the day I experienced a miscarriage in the hospital.
The day my life changed forever as the doctors uttered the words, “there is no heartbeat. Your baby is gone.” I fell down to the ground in the parking lot after being discharged; I never knew pain quite like this.
Trauma never forgets the date or anniversary. Trauma keeps a record. And doesn’t care how many years it’s been.
It remembers every single detail, including things you wish you could forget.
My mind and body take me back to a painful place where I’d rather not be. A place that’s scary and riddled with dark memories, reminding me of how little control I actually have.
When the rest of the world moves at a fast pace – I stand still, frozen in time. Unable to move or to breathe. I feel numb. And I cry uncontrollably at times.
Trauma spills out into every area of our lives, whether we realize it or not. There’s a feeling of heaviness, fear, emptiness, and sadness that we’re unable to put into words or explain to others.
It’s all-consuming. It has a tenacious grip on our minds and won’t let go.
As the book, The Body Keeps the Score (a must-read if you haven’t) suggests, trauma makes a home within our minds and bodies in more ways than we realize. The author uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain.
Some ways I see that trauma has impacted me…
It reminds me that this world is a dangerous place that I should be afraid of, alert and hypervigilant, waiting for something bad to happen.
It sucked all the innocence out of my life. Now I see that many babies will never be born. One minute they’re living and breathing, and the next they’re gone.
It has taken parts of my heart that I don’t think I’ll get back. There’s a void that can’t be filled by anything else but the person I lost.
I know how fierce trauma is, but I also know how malleable our brains are and that things can always change for the better.
This is what keeps me going and drives me forward despite what I’ve been through.
This is why I’m choosing to hang on to hope.
Some days, I know I’m doing okay. I realize I haven’t thought about my child, and I have peace about where I’m at. Other days I feel like I’m breaking all over again as the wound is reopened. I can’t stop thinking about the child I never met or what happened in that hospital.
I have the awareness that my mind is still going back to that place, but I don’t know how to stop it or how to lessen the impact it has on my life.
I’ve discovered that inevitably triggers will happen and I need to learn to face them head-on. Masking or hiding difficult emotions only makes things worse. I’ve realized that it all starts with the awareness of how past trauma is impacting your brain, behavior, and life.
Then the healing can begin or continue.
We can’t change what happened, but we can change our perspective on what happened and how we respond to it.
We can address trauma when it crosses the line from bearable to unbearable.
We can always pave new pathways in our brains.
We can always choose to work with a qualified therapist and utilize trauma-informed therapies.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy strives to reprocess what we remember and repair the mental damage from that memory. (I’m giving this therapy a try for the first time to reduce the hold that trauma has on my life.)
I do believe the time has the power to heal, but only if you choose to diligently work through your trauma during that time. Time doesn’t heal on its own.
I want to assure you that if your mind or body feels stuck in your response to trauma, the truth (and science supports it) is that you are never truly stuck.
You can put in the work to take back the power over your mind and rebuild a beautiful, joyful life.