Rising from the Rubble — 3 Timely Reminders about Trauma

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Hello Friend,

Today’s post is one I’ve had a difficult time writing for two weeks now.  The horrific blow of last Sunday’s shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas has left me pretty numb in the way that this type of fear-generated evil does.  I hate it. 

I don’t know how you’ve processed it, yet if you are like me, layers and layers of hateful behavior tend to leave me feeling helpless, and often as a result, apathetic. 

How can I help?  

Is our world going to hell in a handbasket? 

What next? 

The grim reality sets in and my callouses begin to peek through.  

Wait a minute though, that’s me responding to fear with fear…  or even worse, apathy!  

This is perhaps the greatest danger possible: that fear would settle into apathy, and we might surrender to a new normal of acquiescence and cynicism.  

Fear, in the very least, elicits some reaction.  Apathy does nothing.

After a week of wallowing, I feel a healthy dose of righteous anger rising up and simply can’t back down.  

I’m grateful not to have lost anyone in the tragic attack. However, I’ve witnessed several who have been directly affected, unexpectedly saying goodbye to loved ones and life partners as well as having a branded traumatic experience filed away on a cellular level.  I cannot begin to comprehend that depth of sorrow, and I sincerely pray for comfort in their desperate time of need.  

How are you doing in light of all of this?  

Do you find yourself in the throws of pain and powerlessness despite not being directly affected by the shooting?  I’ve found that highly creative people also tend to be highly sensitive to what is happening around them.  You fall in this category.  

You are drawn to the interior journey towards wholeness and integration which is something not everyone signs up for.  Your willingness to connect is in and of itself intrinsically a creative, out-of-the-box endeavor.  

Here are a couple of reminders regarding trauma as we assess the damage, lean into the conversation, and rise from the rubble:

1) Trauma is trauma no matter how you slice it. 

I like the definition of trauma that says it is anything unwanted or unnatural that happens to you.  Just because you weren’t there in that open amphitheater in Vegas does NOT mean you aren’t suffering secondary or tertiary trauma.  

Simply being victim to 24-hour news coverage of the terror can be enough to blanket you in a thick layer of indirect trauma.  Knowing our limits to information and “breaking news” is a good thing. 

We’ve all been affected on different levels, and no one is comparing trauma to trauma: it's all relative, and we’re all in this together as different parts of the collective body.  

2) Grinning and bearing it is old news and going the “stoic” route won’t cut it.  

Inevitably, when we try to stuff our trauma or any emotion for that matter, it will eventually come out somehow and not in the loveliest of fashions.  

Any time we experience loss, we must grieve it.  What I’m learning about grief is it MUST be witnessed by safe people in our court whether it be a family member, a trusted friend, and/or a therapist/spiritual director.  We cannot grieve in a void.  

3) Find a creative outlet.

For me, this is writing.  I’ve damn near filled up two journals in the past month boiling over with unfiltered and unapologetic responses to natural disasters, political conundrums, and most definitely, the recent shooting in Vegas.  (I may as well be committed if anyone were to read said journal entries.) 

I devoted several pages to Tom Petty in there as well— he was surely a brave and gifted soul, iconic and irreplaceable on every level.  

What is your outlet?  Painting, baking, sculpting, guitar, yoga, or dance?  Whatever it is, pour your heart into it.  Emotional energy must be expressed, not repressed.  Repression and avoidance are siren songs that allure numbing agents like booze, food, drugs, work, and the like to make their seductive pitches.  We’ve got to get out in front of them by tapping into our inherent creative essence.

I’ve got more resources coming to you here very soon, but for now, here’s the invitation for you and me: we all have our own work to do in keeping our interior landscapes clean so as not to fall asleep in a stagnant pool of apathy.  

If you or someone you know is currently experiencing a fall-out from recent tragedies, reach out.  Don’t let lack of resources, fear of judgement, or perhaps the unknown, hold you back.  Nashville is fighting back from a place of love and accountability.  Join me on this path to connection, integration, and courage as we bridge the gap for the broken and openly talk about our wounds.

Take heart, my friend—you are not alone.  We are all inexplicably in this together.  That is the invaluable, stunning nature of the human spirit in its purest form: our pain joins us together and binds us into a beautifully broken patchwork that heals us over time.  Let this be your anchor as chaos and loss sweep heavily over our hearts.  It has surely been mine.

Love & Gratitude,