Well looky here, it’s the Founder of Sol Sister’s turn to write a blog post and what does she choose? Trauma. Other fabulous sisters wrote about impactful things like meditation, balancing your budget, how to love yourself, and what do I choose? Trauma. Maybe I can defend myself by saying that I have a background in marriage and family therapy and I’m in the middle of a doctoral program on the subject. You can say I breathe, sleep, and eat trauma. Or maybe, you’re more interested in whether or not I have actually experienced trauma of my own. To answer your question, yes. I have experienced a variety of trauma, and at times throughout my life, I didn’t even realize that what I had gone through was indeed, traumatic. Sound familiar?
I had a really wonderful childhood. I grew up with a strong and supportive family. I went to a good school. Ask mama to pull out the home videos and you’d see a cute, chubby me laughing the entire time. I mean, entire. I was a happy kid, and I am grateful for that. I was raised by a single mama because my dad was in and out of the picture. They divorced when I was 3. At 12, I discovered he had moved back to his home country, Iran. My Mexican mother, grandmother, cousins, tias, tios, the village did a phenomenal job in raising me with good values, strong morals, instilling self-esteem, all a’ dat. Meanwhile, my father abandoned me, and with his inconsistent presence throughout my childhood, I in turn learned that men are not dependable, will abandon me, will come and go as they please, and that I was, in a sense, unlovable.
Throughout college and my early adult years, I learned some tough life lessons. Many of the issues stemming from the abandonment of my father (not to mention, that thing called divorce) manifested themselves. I was involved with unavailable men who were many times physically and emotionally abusive. But what did I know? I wasn’t traumatized, how could I be? I was in college, then grad school, working in the non-profit sector, doing everything opposite of what traumatized people do. As if traumatized people all just stay frozen in their trauma. While that can be true for some, many of us dust our shoulders off and push through some of the hardest things in our lives so that we don’t ever have to feel just how painful all of these real feelings actually are. It’s amazing to me how powerful the human body and mind is. Like, we really do get through a lot of ish, y’all.
The problem is, we can cope and thrive through, or better yet, past our trauma, but until we really stop and consider how that trauma has affected us, we may not realize just how deeply rooted these issues are.
I had a hard time attaching. Nice men were available, kind, and respectful. I didn’t like them. I wondered why I was single and approaching 30. I was a good catch, right? And hello. Did anyone remember what I said at the beginning of this post? I’m a THERAPIST. I know this stuff, what to look out for, etc. What was wrong with me? Maybe I needed to lose weight, change my wardrobe, be more social, put myself out there, work harder, or not work as hard. All of those things. Pray more. Ask God to send the man of my dreams through the clouds of the heavens above. I tried everything, or so I thought. I did not allow myself to recognize just how much the “attachment trauma” to my father, the person who made me and then left me really impacted me. I didn’t allow myself to recognize that the physical abuse made me believe that men just do that. I didn’t allow myself to recognize that being lied to and cheated on was actually a bad thing, but more so something I deserved (because I was unlovable, remember?).
Some of you reading this are probably nodding your heads, like “yass sis, yasss!” and others might be thinking, “How is her situation traumatic? I’ve gone through so much worse.” And to you, my sisters, I say, absolutely, I hear you. The level of our trauma is on a really realllly long continuum. A trauma like rape might not compare to a trauma like divorced parents. But what I really want to emphasize is that in the end, trauma is trauma. SO many of us face it, and so many of us simply do NOT know how to deal with it.
So what now? Well first, note that trauma is complicated. It just is. There are so many different types, there are so many ways we try to cope with it, and guess what? So many of us are actually okay, including me. I have made it through, even though in my heart I truly believe traumatic events stick with us, they just might not be as apparent as they were during other parts of our lives. The first step in this journey is facing it. You have to be honest with yourself and own your traumatic experience. Even saying, “I have been through something traumatic” can be incredibly empowering for you.
Next, you want to start processing it. Maybe you want to tell a close friend or family. Maybe you choose to see a therapist, join a support group or church. Maybe the only thing you can bring yourself to is writing in a journal. All of these things are okay. Eventually, especially if your trauma has greatly impacted you, you will want to get professional help. That may take time, but you will want to get there. And guess what, YOU DESERVE IT. Because guess what YOUR TRAUMA IS NOT YOUR FAULT. And, YOUR TRAUMA DOES NOT DEFINE YOU.
I want to personally invite you all to our upcoming event, “Facing Childhood Trauma: Support + Tools to Begin Healing” on September 22 from 6-9pm in Oakland, CA. More details can be found at solsisters.org. This will be a great time to start facing that trauma that no longer serves you. You’re not alone, we are here for you throughout this journey.
Your Sol Sister,