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Tonight with Lester Kiewit
Lisa Joshua Sonn on Trauma

Lisa Joshua Sonn on Trauma

16 October 2019 9:06 PM

Guest : Lisa Joshua Sonn |

 You are not what happened to you :

I believe we underestimate the impact on trauma on our lives. Trauma is not about
language. It is about feelings, memories, messages, fears, doubts, anxiety, vulnerability
and so many common triggers.
Mostly triggers are everyday things: a banging door, a setting sun, footsteps towards
your bedroom, quick walking behind you, the sound of thuds behind a closed door,
someone shouting, a stare, a look, the sound of a belt or zip being undone, the rustle of
leaves in a bush as you walk by, the list of triggers is endless.
They talk about the fight or flight response to trauma, but what about freeze? When we
are traumatised we choose one of these options, some people take the risk and the
courage to fight back and others take the personal safety option of fleeing the situation.
There are countless examples in our lives where people flee, there are children who
choose to live in the streets, there are adult children who choose to move to other
countries, or there are those who as soon as they have the means will terminate toxic
relationships which cause them trauma.
There is no wrong way to deal with trauma as in my opinion, we are individuals born to
connect with other people and have relationships. Babies yearn for a parents’ touch,
toddlers are always seeking attention and acknowledgement. No man or woman is an
island and can possibly operate in isolation from the rest of the world. Many try, even
though it is unnatural. We need human contact, support, acknowledgement and love.
As people we have become so accustomed to masking hurt, pain and trauma. We have
put on pretences to ensure we navigate through the challenges, drawing as little
attention to ourselves as possible. The other options include people living in the misery
of the trauma and not really knowing what their options are. They become their trauma
as opposed to counting the trauma as something or many things that happened to them.
They are not what happened to them, it is part of their lives and their history. There are
various processes we can embark on to not take our trauma into our futures. We must
be willing to take a look and to change how we see it. Trauma is part of life. Some get
more than others; few escape this life without trauma.
Eventually we all have choices to make and it is the quality of our relationships that
inform the actions we take. When we feel supported and heard, it is easier to share life
challenges with professional therapists, close friends or members of your family. I have
discovered that sharing with people I trusted helped me to heal and to move on from
the events. It isn’t an easy process and it is a lot more complex and difficult until you
choose to acknowledge that you have been hurt by someone or others whom you loved,
trusted or had an unfortunate traumatic engagement.
A reality for me is that the world is moving so fast, everyone has a “get on with it! get
over it!" attitude. These approaches have not worked ever. Until you work on healing
and being in recovery from trauma, it will not leave your thoughts, your actions and
reactions in the world.
We need to know our traumas, we will do ourselves a service acknowledging what
happened and what we made it mean. Sometimes, what happened is so traumatic that
we make it mean something about ourselves: I am weak, I am not enough, I am not
worthy, I won’t amount to anything, it is me not them. The other outcomes of trauma are
that the person who is traumatised has no other role model but to cause trauma
through the way they show up in the world. There is a truth which teaches us that hurt
people hurt people. Nobody is born to be a bully or to cause pain and problems with
their being. We are all formed by our experiences and what we witness as normal.
For me, trauma always goes with violence physical or silent violence, every type of
abuse where one person or group dominates another. It is always interesting for me to
hear the stories of some people who appear to have the most successful, enviable lives
or jobs and when we actually listen to where they come from, many made a decision
when they were young to leave a legacy, to prove their worth or to never be poor or
vulnerable again.
Sometimes the trauma we experience runs our lives, we become like machines. We lose
our empathy, we are defensive, we are doubtful or suspicious. It really is such a waste
that more of us don’t take the time to show each other love, empathy and
understanding. A problem halved is a problem shared. Not everyone who wants to know
our stories are comforters, some are just curious busy bodies but we get to choose how
and whom we trust. It is such a personal process; it takes small steps or big audacious
ones. We get to choose.
There is an inspirational story about two brothers who grew up in a violent, abusive
home. The one became a loving family man and the other became a violent abusive
adult. When asked how and why, both of their responses were: "When you come out of a
home like that, what are your choices!?"
As a society many live with wounds and traumas, we need to be kinder to ourselves and
to others. It is actually pretty hard to be kind to ourselves and being kind to others is a
lot more rewarding than living alongside, and not with, the groups you associate with.

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