After having experienced a major amount of trauma in my life, I realized that I was left in a state that was much different than I had before the trauma occurred. Little by little, it ate away at me. By a certain point in time, the world no longer seemed the same as it once had.
Slowly but surely, after doing some major inner healing work, I realized this truth about being a survivor of trauma—after a major traumatic event, like the loss of a close loved one, or even several smaller traumas, like moving to a new city, you start view the world from a much more negative perspective than you once did. You remember being a child, teenager, or (if you are lucky to have had a blessed and trauma-free life) young adult, thinking how good it felt to be alive. You remember the days of carefreeness where maybe you struggled here and there but overall things were going your way. You can remember the good times that were not tinged with the haunting of your bad memories. Life was a lot simpler back then.
The trauma I am referring to in my own life is the loss of my mom during my college days. Before the loss, life was very normal. After the loss, life began to feel very bleak. I felt like I was in a constant state of fight-or-flight mode, just trying to survive and get through the next day. Before the loss, I planned out my future. After the loss, I began to live day-by-day, wondering when the next emergency was going to happen. And unfortunately, when you are in that state of mind, things do tend to go wrong more often. Or at least, it can feel that way. You tend to see things differently, planning out your days to prevent a relapse of the anxiety rather than just going with the flow or living as you did before the trauma.
If there is one positive thing that has come out of all of this for me, it has been that I now take excellent care of my health. But it’s only because my nerves have become so fried from all the negative experiences I’ve had that I essentially have to if I want to feel any semblance of normalcy. In many ways, I feel better than I ever did before the trauma due to this, but there is still that nagging feeling in my head that wasn’t there before. I now think about things like “When is my dad going to die?” whereas before, the thought never crossed my mind. I’m much more prepared because my family was so unprepared for the loss of my mom. The mind almost becomes hypervigilant so that it can prevent a similar event from happening, but in many of these types of situations, there really is not much you can do to prevent them. It is definitely a symptom of PTSD, but in my opinion, it is also extremely smart for the mind to do this. In some ways, it makes you appreciate the people in your life more when you begin to think about the limited time you have with them. You might even become more compassionate towards others because of it. It can also unfortunately have the opposite effect of making a person more hostile towards their loved ones because of fear.
What I have found in my own experience is a mixed bag. For some people, they tend to become more negative after a traumatic situation. For others, the situation can actually bring more positivity and gratitude to a person’s perspective. For me, it’s been both. For a long time, I felt like everything was going wrong, and it was. Whether it was my mindset as a result of the trauma or the actual results of the trauma itself remains to be seen. Now, with the distance of time, things are becoming clearer. Some of the fuzziness of pain and numbness is starting to fade away. It’s strange because I feel like a new person in many ways, especially because this event happened during such fundamental years of my young adult life.
Major events in my life, whether they are positive or negative, are always bittersweet, and I have a feeling they always will be, whereas before, positive events were always positive and negative events were always negative. The truth that I have unfortunately discovered at a younger age than most is that many events and circumstances are much more complex than that. Usually they are a bit of both, and that’s okay.