Sometimes trauma is a singular event, and more often trauma is experienced as a part of an ongoing set of conditions. It could be a car accident or witnessing someone be mugged. It could be experiencing sexual assault or hearing about your friend's abusive relationship. Or it could be about not getting your needs met as a young person. Maybe your caregivers were caught up in trying to pay the rent and put food on the table, or cope with their own experiences of trauma, and couldn't show up how you needed. Maybe they were caught in patterns of addiction or had relationship issues. Maybe you are black or brown and your'e surviving inside of white supremacy, seeing the way state violence impacts your communities. Maybe you're trans and you're constantly being misgendered.
What's read as trauma by our nervous systems is dependent on many different factors, but what we do know is that experiences of oppression and material scarcity lower our ability to be resilient in the face of trauma.
In other words, experiences of oppression are read as trauma to our nervous systems and otherwise impact how trauma is stored and experienced.
Because of this, it makes a lot of sense to hold a pretty wide definition of trauma that encompasses many of our experiences. Trauma comes to live in our nervous systems when we experience something, that in that moment can't be integrated.
Traumatic experiences and conditions break safety, rupture connection, and undermine dignity.
We develop really smart ways to survive these conditions that work really well in the moment. It is hardwired into our nervous systems to fight when we need to, to run away when it makes sense, to freeze as a last resort, to appease to maintain connection, and sometimes to just go away completely, or to dissociate. The problem is when these ways of surviving generalize and become some of the only tools we have to manage our daily realities. The experience of trauma is sometimes like having your on and off switches messed with constantly, a series of actions and reactions where your sense of choice and agency becomes smaller and smaller.
It makes sense that you are feeling stuck, as if on a loop. No matter how hard you think about how you want things to be different, they stay the same. It's like your body isn't your own. You feel disconnected from yourself and from others. You feel like you're on guard all the time. Maybe you're having trouble articulating what you want or standing up for yourself. You feel like it's hard to concentrate, and you're not sure what you care about. Maybe things even feel hopeless, and like a future isn't possible.
Trauma healing is fundamentally about reorienting towards more choice and more agency.
We can help. We want you to have an embodied sense of safety, dignity, and belonging that allows you to take action toward what you care about. Embodiment means that something lives inside you so deeply that it's practiced and recallable under pressure. It's a part of who you are.
We work through the body because that's where trauma lives. We have lots of good ideas and those good ideas tend to give out under pressure. If we could think our way out of trauma, that would be amazing! And unfortunately, that's not enough. Our story or narrative of trauma is just one piece of the puzzle.
Trauma healing involves:
- Developing a relationship to your body
- Understanding how patterns of survival live inside your nervous system
- Allowing those survival patterns to move and complete
- Developing competencies that trauma and oppression didn't let you have (boundaries, mutual connection, resilience)
- Understanding the social context in which the trauma you experience(d) occurred
- Knowing what you care about and taking action toward it
You can have more choice. Healing is possible. You can be resilient, even in the face of ongoing oppression.