Here’s something interesting about trauma. It stays deep inside of you, always shaking in its cage. Even if you have worked your ass off in 18 years of therapy, including groups, including every self-help workbook on self esteem and abandonment and fear and anger. Even if you have learned how to parent yourself. Even if you learned your power and almost every minute of every day you are standing in that power. Your trauma is still there.
Shaking. Afraid. Wounded. Waiting to be poked with the next stick.
And there are sticks coming at it all the time but most aren’t long enough anymore. Before the books and the work and the therapy and the empowerment, every stick was long enough. Everything hurt. Everything poked. Everything woke the pain and fear and panic and the trauma filled your whole body and you lived inside of it. There were times you were insufferable then, in all that rage and fear that didn’t know where to go or how to protect itself from most sticks.
Now, you don’t mind being insufferable in your empowerment. It’s better for you here even if some folks would prefer you to be small and shaking inside your trauma all of the time.
But every now and again, the stick is big enough. It gets all the way through. It reaches through you, into the deepest part of yourself, into the cage that tries to contain the trauma, and it pokes. It gets in. The trauma, like any wounded animal, shrinks, lunges, bares its teeth, shows its claws, its fangs. It rears up on its hindquarters and it gets big.
Your trauma gets so big. And it rages. Your trauma WILL have justice.
This isn’t a bad thing. The energy your deepest hurt self can produce is astounding. It will help you work through many sleepless nights. It will keep you going when you thought you’d given all you could give. Looking back, you’ll realize you’ve done that so many times. Held so much space for so much injustice with the help of that animal-pain, that hurt, howling, poked-with-a-stick rage in your heart. And in that place, you did some good. You connected with the animal-pain in others. You might have even healed them a bit. And that’s good.
But it’s a wild thing, that hurting animal inside of you. Your trauma cannot be tamed and while, for some time, it can be directed, eventually it will thrash against your own self and even possibly take control of you. It is so powerful when it has been roused. It doesn’t mind taking over before you can even make sure it knows what it’s doing, what it’s saying. Eventually, your trauma will hurt you... again.
It doesn’t mean to. It’s just so scared. It’s just so enraged. And your trauma has a right to be sad and scared and angry. But you have a right to take care of your trauma too.
You are the only one who can place your hand on its back, whisper careful calm words into the fur of its neck, scratch it behind the ears, and calm it back down. You are the only one it will listen to.
You can get your trauma back in its cage. And instead of letting it be in control, you can be in control. You can honor your trauma, care for your trauma, heal your trauma by giving it a soft, sweet place to rest. You can take the stick out of its side, mend the wound.
Then, holding that stick in your hand, you can march back to the place it came from and in a calm, measured, rational way, break that motherfucker in a million tiny pieces.
And while you are breaking the stick, you can remember you have children to feed and the sun is shining and the dog is all love for you. You can remember you love your lover’s kiss, you love the feel of the flannel sheets on your bed, and the sound of the birds in the early morning. And your trauma can sleep or rest quietly while you do this. And you can keep breaking the stick in between deep breaths. And you can keep going after the place the stick came from in between nights of sleep where you rest on your lover’s chest.
And in this way, you will be able to sustain yourself on the long road ahead. In this way, the place where the stick came from doesn’t steal your life from you. In this way, all the work you’ve done to learn to care for your trauma wasn’t for nothing.
You may be an individual, with personal trauma. You may be a community, with intergenerational trauma. Either way, it works the same.
So for a moment, the stick poked all the way down to the flesh and you let your trauma take over. For a moment, you raged in whatever direction felt like it needed a snarl, an attack, a growl, a set of bared teeth. You forgot you are in control, not your trauma. And then you remembered how much bigger you are than your trauma. You remembered your power.
And NOW, you are REALLY ready to fight.
is an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer; an ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor; a certified Yoga Teacher; a Certified Intuitive Eating Professional; and a degree-holding Health, Fitness Specialist. She lives in Frankfort, Michigan and owns Every. Body. Fitness and Yoga Studio.