We all experience trauma. The level and degree of our trauma is individual to us. The world can rate our experiences and compare our experiences to others, but a system of measurement does not do us justice. Our physical bodies are wonderfully different and, in turn, experience trauma differently. There is something that we can all do. Talk.
The video above is an example of the effects of trauma. The men and women of our armed forces put their bodies and minds at risk for a truly noble cause. Our freedom. The statistics of the number of men and women both in the armed forces and civilian that suffer from PTSD is staggering. We are all holding on to trauma mentally and physically. To say that the trauma you and I experience is any less is not to slight any of what they sacrifice for us. It is to say that we all need to talk.
When we carry something, it puts pressure on our physical body. When we carry something emotional, psychological, and traumatic, it puts pressure on our physical body. Our physical bodies are effected regardless of the origin on the stimulus. The only difference is that one can sometimes be seen by others (a cast around a broken arm, scrapes and cuts from a dog attack, or the lose of an appendage) and the other may never be known to the world. A physical cut may be followed by the phrase “suck it up.” An emotional turmoil over the lose of a loved one can sometimes be met with that phrase as well. Love is not the ability to cause physical harm to someone, physically, psychologically or emotionally. So when we tell someone to “suck it up” then we are telling them to live with the pain. And the pain grows.
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” This quote comes from Brene Brown. She is famous for her stand on vulnerability and shame. As we go through life, we will all continue to encounter trauma. It is part of the human life experience. What we have choice over is how we choose to deal with the past in the Now. Will we talk and start the healing?
Yoga provides a means to talk, but not necessarily with others. Our ability to feel safe in giving parts of us comes from first talking to ourselves. In the moments of meditation where the eyes are closed and we are left to our own mind, the ability to feel and talk to ourselves is healing. We love ourselves and we talk to those we care about. Take a moment to let our eyes close and have a conversation with the one we love. Us.
Learning to “Suck It Up”
Psycho-emotional trauma – the kind of trauma caused primarily by social conditioning. Situations that threaten our social self such as rejection, shame, fear of failure, and negative judgment by others cause us to react in the same manner as if we were being threatened physically. The body takes up a position of submission and withdrawal, slumping forward with the head down – the precise posture it assumes when threatened by physical trauma.
A case in point. When an African American girl turned eleven, her parents decided to send her across town to a junior high school in a culturally different neighborhood. Her experience up to that point had mostly involved middle class African American and Japanese American families. So when she was put on a bus to attend a school in an all-white affluent neighborhood, she wasn’t prepared for the culture clash she was about to experience.
Her first traumatic experience came when, because her stop was one of the last stops of an already overcrowded school bus, no one wanted her to sit next to them. Since she was perceived as “shy and nerdy,” they didn’t care to scoot over and allow her to share their seat. Each day, the bus driver ordered one of the students to move over, and even then the young girl found herself with one three inches of seat.
Each day, for fifteen miles, she balanced herself on the edge of the seat so she wouldn’t fall into the aisle. Next to her sat a resentful student who had yielded almost no space, but who enjoyed taking advantage of the African American student because she was meek, mild, and non-confrontational.
Unfortunately, kids can be cruel to each other at certain times in their lives. For the one who is being shunned, it’s a stressful, anxiety-ridden, traumatic experience. Most days, this young girl cried silently all the way to school.
At school, the culture clash didn’t turn out to be as bad as the girl had imagined. She found she had much in common with one of the local girls, and they became friends. The kids in her own neighborhood began whispering and laughing as she walked by. Soon, they were taunting her, telling her she was a traitor, calling her hateful names that stabbed her heart.
It’s stressful growing up in our schools. Most of our kids exist in a state of high anxiety. All they can do is “suck it up.”