Everyone experiences some kind of trauma in their life—it’s inevitable—though, not everyone will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We all react to trauma differently and depending on how it is dealt with, determines how we think, feel, and perceive ourselves and the world around us. Whether you believe to suffer from PTSD or not, this can help anyone who has experienced trauma in any form.
They say “Time heals all wounds.” I agree—with those that believe this is a crock of shit. Time only allows you to get used to trying to suppress or dissociate from the painful event. There’s no healing happening.
You’ve probably also heard that “time is an illusion,” because, well, …it is. We see time as a linear measurement of our lives because we’ve been conditioned to think this way ever since someone read or told us the first story we’d ever heard. If we take time away, we get “____ heals all wounds.”
I have experienced my fair share of trauma, and although I understand it is nowhere near the amount some people experience, I do know what goes in that blank.
Traumatized brains look very different from non-traumatized or ‘healed’ brains, primarily in three ways: the thinking center is under activated, as is the emotion regulation center, with the fear center being over activated. In other words, if you are traumatized, you may experience chronic stress, vigilance, fear, irritation, and have a hard time feeling safe, calming down, thinking clearly, concentrating, being aware, and sleeping. All are symptoms of a hyperactive amygdala.
Many therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, etc., will tell you that you need to “talk about it.” But this seldom works. Verbalizing events of the past only reinforces it in your own mind, which can further traumatize you. “The pen is mightier than the sword”—something we’ve all heard, but not everyone truly understands. It’s usually something one hears in times of war and/or violent times. When dealing with emotional trauma, it is nothing short of an all-out, brutal war with your greatest enemy: yourself.
It doesn’t take much brain power to talk, and we can see this with people in our lives and especially on TV—the Kardashians or Kelly from ‘The Office.’ But it takes the logic portion of the brain to move a pen. Thus, when you write out memory, it shifts the emotionally incomprehensible over to logic, making it comprehensible. Then once it is comprehensible, the reality of the past can be dealt with in a logical manner.
Thinking and talking about a past trauma is like viewing the past in a dissociative manner, or bird’s-eye view. Writing, however, allows you to view your mind’s screen through the eyes of the part of you that endured it.
By no means, am I saying that it’s as simple as it sounds. It’s not; at least, for me it wasn’t. However, it did get easier with the more I wrote about each event. I am glad I started with what I had thought would be the toughest one—later finding out through writing I had been fooling myself the whole time, and discovering hidden trauma from childhood.
Sitting within a moment that had caused such trauma, long enough to smell the smells and record every detail I could, ended up being the greatest therapy I’d ever experienced.
Now, I still experience emotions, such as anger and sadness, but they disappear as quick as they came. Forgiveness comes without effort and grudges are never held. It becomes easy to just let go and finally live.
The pen truly is mightier then the sword. This will give you control over your memory and ultimately your mind. Writing is the greatest gift you can give yourself.