Do you ever wonder what life would be like without trauma? I simply cannot fathom it, even though it has only been eight years since my family began to become intimately familiar with the term. Only eight years, but those years have taken us on the steepest learning curve of our lives. Trauma does something to a person–it totally reshapes who you are and how you relate to other people. I can’t say it has done me any favors… but maybe they are still to come.
My family and I have completely redesigned our lives to acclimate trauma. It has found it’s way into our lives and we’ve learned to make the necessary changes as we go along. My husband Dean says, “It was either sink or swim, so we started paddling, hard!”
I often say I wear trauma glasses, for it has made my world look different. I look at clothing and think, “Will this color, design, texture negatively affect the child who will be wearing it?” The mother of one of our adopted children frequently dressed in black. The child was terrified of people wearing black clothing for a long time after the adoption was finalized and mom was no longer in the picture.
Trauma covers my planner, I have to make sure I figure in enough time for it. I must make sure I don’t make my schedule to full, or trauma will take over and we will pay dearly.
We treat trauma like a baby. We are like parents who’s child has just begun to crawl, they check the floor to make sure it is safe for their child, removing anything that could be a danger to him. We do the same thing when we go away. We automatically look for things that might upset trauma.
We take trauma to church and I view the service through trauma’s eyes. When Old Testament stories are told, I can sense, rather than see, trauma becoming uneasy. Those stories can bring back memories or stir up sleeping ones. I take trauma with me wherever I go. If the children aren’t with me, my phone is right by my side, waiting for the phone call or text that things aren’t going well. When my phone rings, I think, “Uh oh, trauma is upset.”
After upsetting trauma and dealing with the after effects, we vow to be extra vigilant and we are for a time, then we get sloppy and forget how needy trauma is, until we are jerked back to reality by a shrill scream or kick from one of our adopted children. As much as I despise trauma, it is so much a part of life at our house that I probably wouldn’t know what to do with all the extra time I would have in it’s absence.
Sometimes I am tempted to simply ignore trauma. After all, what can it do if you refuse to acknowledge it’s presence? But when we acknowledge the fear, hunger, cold, tiredness, or whatever has brought trauma to a head, it tends to fade into the background. We have learned that trauma simply becomes bigger, louder, and more prevalent until you acknowledge it.