Shaping Trauma into Joy

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Trauma happens to the best of us. When we are young, when we are older, when we least expect it, a blow comes that takes our breath away and shatters the ideas we had held of ourselves. It may happen as a single event, or in a cascade that seems to never end. Until one day, it has, and we are left to pick up our pieces and reshape ourselves from the shards.Trauma

Often times when hit with a devastating blow and experience trauma in the reeling, we point fingers in our confusion. We look to the “other” as the cause of our suffering and a maelstrom of judgements is generated. We create rage or deepen fears already held. This sense of righteous indignation, while understandable, actually compounds trauma and gives it roots.

Long after the incident has passed, we are the ones who carry this wound and spark it again and again with flint and tinder that fire up our beliefs of being wronged, until we become consumed in the conflagration again and again, scorching everything in sight along the way.

A radical proposal is necessary, for healing must find clear soil.

Create a space between blame of the other individual that was involved in the circumstance where pain occurred, and begin to see that you are the one carrying this pain forward. Understand that continuing to hold this pain and trauma even after the incident has finished, keeps it locked into place. When you create a little gap between “what happened” and the you that it happened to, you begin to find the story around the event that has been oft repeated into legend. That gap is the beginning of a little tiny space that will allow forgiveness.

The forgiveness is for yourself and around the idea of what happened, as much as for the characters and actors involved in the happenstance. Once you begin to see that you forgiving the circumstance lends to an even deeper sense of clearing, that clearing begins to give even more space, a little bit more release, and a little bit more openness. That place is where you begin to experience more peace.

Once you can hold peace and begin to feel what peace feels like at a very deep level around something that used to cause trauma, the next step after that, allows you to turn to the smallest degree of gratitude. Not gratitude for what happened necessarily, but gratitude for what was learned as a result of the experience.

What was grown into, or even left behind as a result of that experience with the trauma. Gratitude ushers in understanding around how your tormentor truly became your mentor. After we have that understanding, we may be able to get a sense of completion. Completion can then allow a new level of joy within that propels us forward toward new, other experiences in life. New relationships or circumstances are available that we couldn’t notice before when clouded by grief and sadness.

traumaWe won’t necessarily feel joy about the thing that caused us trauma, but we can feel joy within ourselves on the other side of the clearing, by healing that root of trauma within.

I often say that when I look back at the trauma in my life, that most of it feels like a book that I read at some point.

Much of it has no more physical sting or relationship to me at this point. Clearing and cleansing our trauma takes time, but it also takes diligence. We don’t get to a level and then that’s it, because trauma builds roots and carries echoes and resonances that travel deep into the foundation of our being. It takes sometime to unravel the roots woven around other things that we had no clue were connected until we began to dig.

Even now when I look back on some relationships in my past, I notice a sting or an uneasiness in relationship to some people that I hadn’t even considered. So yet again, there is more for me to clear that I am holding onto around that circumstance that may or may not have anything to do with any other human being.

It is purely my own projection, or my own feelings of icky-ness or incompletion that I’m still harboring somewhere deep within. Only when we look and truly become honest with ourselves around these feelings, do we get the opportunity to exorcise them. It is in the allowance of letting them linger that we regenerate our suffering.

We keep closing closets and doors and hiding things under rugs, which means we begin to feel traumatized everywhere. Because everywhere we look is trauma waiting to fall out on the floor. We think we hide it from the world, we think we hide it from ourselves, but in the end we’re hiding it from no one. We’re actually causing it to become pressurized, waiting to leap out and strangle us, or trip us up, or visit us in our beds at night.

Trauma Becomes the Ghost of Everything

It is only when we begin to sit and create that gap between what happened and what we say about what happened do we begin to be able to fill that gap with something else. It’s almost like we have stopped time that kept that loop of our trauma playing over and over again, pacing like a ghost trapped between worlds.


When we do the work and cause the gap to become present, we then stop that loop and begin to create a new timeline.

Our trauma becomes the ghost of everything left uncleaned, uncleared, unsaid, and unfinished.”

A timeline where we become the motivators of a new practice of understanding. First, we must step outside of the wheel that we keep turning like Sisyphus with that rock and the never-ending struggle. We are the rock, we create the hill, and we struggle within, until we decide to put it down and face that we have been generating our story around trauma and flogging ourselves with it. We sometimes even wear it like a badge of honor.

We have allowed our story of what happened to define us, rather than letting our passage through the trauma refine us. Only when we understand and turn the bed of nails upside down, will we allow ourselves to heal the wounds that we’ve kept scratching open, that scab over and are torn up again and again and again.

Trauma is Like a Dirty Mistress

Trauma is a dirty mistress. Sometimes the trauma becomes our only friend. And that’s a dangerous trajectory to allow. Because she is jealous and will ruin all relationships and all endeavors until you are left alone away from everything else deep in her grip. To step outside of trauma is like stepping outside of an addiction.

One often needs help. One often needs support to create this new space. One often needs encouragement to keep creating this new space, and not get mired in judgments about doing it “right”. It takes commitment to build a new habit for a new relationship within ones’ self around a past that is better left in the past, and one no longer created daily for the future.

Trauma is easy to find. It is lying about on the ground zero of everywhere. Peace and joy are mined from deep within, which is why they are considered so valuable. They are uncovered in exchange for the effort of their discovery. They shine through us like an inner light that keeps us going, long after the trauma has ended. This light can then become a beacon for others still trapped in the darkness of their own thoughts and traumas, projections and beliefs.

“Then the way through becomes clear. There is no going back to the event to ever change it. There is only going through to the other shore.”

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