I don’t know you personally.
But if you’re reading this, I’m presuming you’ve been through some shit.
A trauma or life experience that took you down.
You’ve got the scars to prove it – check your arms. Search your heart.
Somehow you managed to pick yourself up, pick up the pieces, keep living.
That “somehow” drives me. Trying to understand it has been a huge part of my own life and work.
How I heal from, not just deal with, emotional trauma is important: I just spent two years in an Ishita-specific hell that threatened my concept of “family.” At other times in my life, I’ve been leveled by heartbreak, spent sleepless nights worried about making $$ with my skills (not a job), suffered acute anxiety flying (I’d plead with the pilot to let me off), got depressed after my grandmother died & skipped every class for a year – donuts and video games all day err day. My college roommate (now BFF) will attest: every week when the donut box arrived, I’d empty it out in an hour and leave a bright “IOU” post-it in the box.
Shame doesn’t stop you when you’re in survival mode!
I’ve been scared and uncomfortable so many times, I’ve learned to rely on myself and find tools to help me function when stuff gets real. It’s the foundation of what and why I teach.
I recorded an audio clip about emotional trauma.
*Warning: I spontaneously recorded this while journaling so it’s informal and I swear; please be mindful if you take offense or have kids.
#1: Emotional trauma is REAL.
As real as the coffee you drank this morning and the nerves you feel if you speak in today’s meeting. Trauma *directly* affects your life, including your body, brain, and your ability to perform. People who say, however, “I compartmentalize” use a necessary skill to survive trauma and function, which isn’t bad – you need to shut off your brain to get relief – but it is temporary.
Ultimately, trauma needs to be dealt with or it’ll keep showing up.
Hard as hell.
Trauma changes you at a cellular level. In 2016, I lost hair, got weird bruises, and developed Gout, a Arthritis typically found in old men. When the doctor told me I had what my granddad had, I guffawed! What luck to have a funny doctor! Then I saw he was serious and got crazy eyes.
Trauma is full-contact wrestling with the big pile of shit life deals you. Some people come out unscathed, but that’s never been my experience. Post-trauma’s always been an entirely new reality I have to re-build from.
Our avoidant society makes people feel sheepish or weak confronting their pain. We’re trained to think we need bigger, more “tangible” problems. I see it when people email me and want to talk about emotional stuff but disguise it with work. When I dig deeper, it’s always, “Actually, I guess work is okay or whatever…but how I feel about X is messing me up.”
Guess what: Emotional trauma IS a business issue.
Emotions are what make us uncomfortable and vulnerable in our careers, and make it risky to deal with people at work and in businesses.
Seth was compassionate with me after my breakup, but he also had a lot of patience: I wasn’t functioning as I could’ve because I was going through pain.
For years, I remember feeling so confused by society’s herd cry, “Work is work. Don’t bring emotions to work.” It jacked me up because I was smart and capable, but this always eluded me. I could. not. do it. For a long time I questioned myself because of it! Deep down I knew a human couldn’t entirely separate the two…and more importantly, why?
Now I know emotional pain needs to be managed if you want to serve at your highest level. You don’t have to share or be useful right away, but when the time’s right, trauma has to be healed to access your full potential.
#2: When going through trauma, give yourself whatever you need to heal: space, time, and with zero expectations of what it should look like.
Honestly, there were times I should’ve set my bar lower than I did; it may have sped up my healing process, instead of prolonging it and zapping my nervous system. Some days, I simply could not work. It scared me and made me so sad because my purpose IS to create – first and foremost help myself thrive – and then to make use of it to serve. I know that now. But not being able to produce when I wanted was painful as AF. Healing has taught me that my natural energy totally comes back, bringing with it ability, stamina, and creativity. I wish I’d known this then when I put a lot of pressure on myself!
#3: The world isn’t ready to deal with YOU, post-traumaticky person with post-traumaticky feelings.
In the audio clip, I talk about how Dave Chappelle left – to everyone’s surprise – his highly successful show in 2006 and came back a decade later. I listened to 5 hours of his interviews because I love him, but also because when I heard him speak, I was so intrigued by how he described why he left; he spoke very differently about the experience than the interviewers. He revealed emotionally traumatic events that led to his departure. Sometimes he couldn’t find the words & I understood: sometimes there ARE NO words. When he did find them though, he spoke in such a real way that it was hard for audience/interviewer to process it.
The world isn’t ready to talk about trauma in a real way. It’s used to avoiding discomfort and scariness and dancing around it.
So if you’re post-traumatic, be ready to be dismissed.
“You worry too much about it,” “It’s not that big a deal,” “It’s time to focus on something else now,” were the most common phrases I was told.
For a smart, discerning woman, forgetting about a genuinely distressing event isn’t really an option. But thanks for the tip, Aunty!
It’s not crazy to want to, and have the courage to deal, with things head on.
Seeing Dave struggle to talk about his experience “reasonably” affirmed what I felt: trauma isn’t reasonable. It’s actually unreasonable. It’s NOT normal. It doesn’t makes sense. It IS weird to confront.
Society avoids, forgets, and does everything but deal with it.
Well, love. If they don’t know how to deal with theirs, they’re not gonna know how to deal with yours.
If you’re going through trauma or are healing yourself, the people of the world may not be your people right now. You’ll know your people when they hear you differently; quiet and open and you won’t feel nuts.
Your body, mind, and heart know what’s going on inside, but the world will continue to spin. And somehow you’ve been tasked with the most precious, most difficult job of all: to find your footing and learn how to stand in the middle of all the spin.
It will confront you, but it’s also an opportunity to make space for what’s real.
Loving you and hearing you.