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  • Writer's pictureExpatTherapyBarcelona

Trauma's limitations

If you've lived long enough on this planet, you may have come across, at least on one occasion, an event in your life that seems to...linger...Most of us are very familiar with this residual effect of experiences and memories that not only linger but can at times shape the present moment into a likeness of the past. For some of us however, the traumatic events have been so frequent and commonplace that they became indistinguishable from the fabric of our everyday life. With practice and time, we learned to cope the best we could. Strategies were developed to cushion us from the unwanted experiences, emotions and memories. The force, magnitude and repetition of these strategies came to dictate the nature of things and our own patterns of interaction with all things.

Despite the protective nature of these patterns. Did I say protective? How could something so limiting, restricted and confining be described as protective? Interestingly, it is precisely through the effort to limit and restrict our engagement with the world that protection was mistakenly achieved. In its efforts to protect us from the painful, the opportunities for joy were also dimmed. I always imagine our early ancestor becoming aware of the dangers of a particular deadly berry and the effectiveness in which it was committed to memory. We notice what hurts us with much greater ease and speed than what nourishes us. Survival skills learned so long ago.

So it seems that what may have started as a helpful way of normalizing and balancing our exposure and reactions to these harmful experiences, may have outgrown its purpose and benefit to our very own survival. I wonder if you can imagine the courage it takes to create defenses, discourse, particularly when it is developed under pressure in the hopes that it allows for our survival. Without judging the possible crudeness of our efforts, the rudimentary tools we may have then used, we can begin to see the ingenious drive that sought to find ways to live instead of die, however limited its outcome. When we look at the strategies that keep us limited from this protective perspective, we may find the compassion necessary to scale back its influence. It is through this compassion that we may begin to see the rays of light coming in through the cracks of its outdated structure, and begin to gain perspective on the diversity of strategies available to us.

Regardless of our efforts and the steadfastness that routine creates, these old protective strategies that keep us from engaging with ourselves are subject to erosion and shifting. No matter how much we continue to enforce the protective norms and rules of our existence stablished so long ago, the inevitable cracks in its structure will begin the process of letting other information in. Even Trauma has its limitations.

There are so many ways to address the protective nature of these strategies and with it the unsustainable limitations of the efforts to protect. Whichever way(s) we use, and however many alterations to their path, compassion is recommended to be at its core. Compassion is a most effective tool not in tearing down old structures, but in creating opening to all the other possible tools with which to build new ones.


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