The #metoo campaign has brought a very important and often taboo topic to the forefront recently. What started on social media is now fueling dialogue over dinner tables, happy hours and therapy sessions. As a counselor, I’m thankful for opportunities to give expression to traumatic events that have lurked in the dark because that is where healing begins. However, as with any issue that has spent so much time in the dark, once it’s open for discussion, the pendulum can swing in both helpful and unhelpful directions. All you need to do is peruse the comments of those who have shared via #metoo to see that this is a vulnerable, complicated and even divisive topic.There is no way that one article (or even one conversation) could cover all of the nuances and complexities involved in these issues. That said, I think it is helpful to start by defining terms.
A traumatic event is anything that causes or threatens harm to us or our loved ones in which we are powerless to change the circumstances. In many instances, trauma happens on an individual level where one person or a small group is affected. In cases of natural disaster, whole populations can be exposed to trauma.
As I sat across the counseling room from Diana, who had lost her daughter in a tragic accident four months prior, she said something I’ve heard from so many others in the midst of pain. She said, “If I just knew why; if God would just show me how He could possibly use this for good so that I could be confident my daughter didn’t die in vain, then I could move forward.” I believe that her pain and grief are completely justified and I could certainly identify with the question. Who hasn’t shouted “Why?!” in the midst of despair?
Burdens. That’s what I see most of the time in my office – people carrying heavy burdens desperate to find rest and peace. This is my work, and what I have done for the past 10+ years is meet hurting people in their dark moments and support them to a place of strength. I’ve been doing this for over ten years, but I have to say that the last six months or so have been different.I’ve seen a new burden and have been hesitant to speak to it, and when I say what it is you’ll know exactly why I’ve been reluctant.
The news lately has been full of horrors: mass shootings, international terrorism, police brutality, brutalizing of police. The reality of trauma in our world has been impossible to escape in recent months. But when it affects you personally in some way, you are stuck trying to figure out how to deal with trauma – how to work through it and move on. And it helps to know of tools that are at your disposal.