Trauma likes to play games with your mind. It likes to distort your perception. You start to lose your trust. Trust in your doctors. Trust in yourself. Trust in the people who are supposed to care for you. Trauma with a side of paranoia.
You wake up one morning and life is normal and then suddenly all of the things you knew suddenly are so far away. You don’t recognize who you are or where you are. And there’s no moving forward because everything is dark and you don’t know if it’s forward or backward or if you’re moving in circles. And that’s where the panic happens. Because suddenly you can’t take anything for granted. You can’t expect that the doctors will do their jobs. You can’t expect that you will be okay at the end of the day. You can’t expect that you’ll ever see normal again.
“Bekah, when was the last time you felt safe?” I remember this moment so clearly. My therapist asked me that question about a year and a half post-trauma. I hadn’t ever thought about it. When you spend most of your life being safe, you don’t think about whether or not you are safe. It’s a questions I’ve thought a lot about since then.
In a lot of ways I think that I tried to find safety by only trusting myself. I’ve always been dependable. If someone needed my help, I would be there. But I also didn’t spend a lot of time asking for help. And for a while after surgery I did accept help, because I had to. But once I didn’t need help, I held people at arms’ length even more. I was keeping myself safe. Safe from disappointment. Safe from change. Safe from uncertainty.
What I didn’t realize is that by trying to protect myself in this way, I was forcing myself into stagnation.
You can’t grow if you’re on an island by yourself.
I’m still not good at it. It’s hard, like really, really hard for me to trust other people. And when I trust people and that trust is broken, it hurts really, really bad. And every single time, I go into fight or flight mode. It’s not something that was necessarily triggered by my trauma–I did this before, and maybe I’ll write more about why in another post–but trauma took it to new heights.
But here’s the thing, being around people I trust also makes me feel safe. And when I feel safe, I feel like I can be me, be Bekah without worrying about them leaving or thinking I’m too much or too intense or too much of a chaotic mess. And when I’m in that place, that’s where I’ve made the most progress.
That’s where I realize that it’s community that makes us feel safe. That trust means accepting people where they’re at, knowing that we’re doing our best with what we have. It’s knowing that progress isn’t always linear and it might not always look like we’re making progress, but trust allows us to depend on other people and to allow them to depend on us. It allows for vulnerability and truth and growth. And when it’s there, we feel safe. And that’s where beauty comes from.