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Episode 44: Trauma and Decay

What happens when we don't allow ourselves to process what's happened to us? In the book, "the Light Through the Leaves," by Glendy Vanderah, I came across a passage that really spoke to me. In today's episode, I share it with you.

 

Transcript:

So today is going to be a little bit different, and that's because I want to read something to you...and the reason that I want to read something to you is because when I came across this, it really struck a chord with me.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way that people deal with trauma and difficult life experiences, and how many of us are trying our hardest *not* to deal with whatever it is that has upset us. Because it's scary to face it and scary to figure out how to cope with it. Some of us feel like we aren't going to be able to cope with it. And so we we may numb ourselves with Netflix, or drinking or marijuana or watching YouTube, because it's easier than facing the emotions that keep coming up when we don't deal with something.

I always encourage people who have dealt with something really difficult to process it with a therapist. After my divorce, I went through like four years of therapy to figure out why I had made the decisions that I made, and deal with some of the trauma surrounding my divorce. And it really helped a lot.

Some things are a little more difficult than that. Like I had a lot of medical-related trauma resulting from my cancer diagnosis. Not only did I replay in my mind when I was diagnosed, but also things like when I went in to have my port put in, which is part of getting chemo, and that was a really traumatizing experience.

And this contributed to a general level of stress in my life. And I didn't really connect it back to that incident or similar incidences until I went to a health therapist who did something called EMDR. It seems crazy when when you find out what it is, but it works. Basically you are holding these two vibrating things, one in each hand. And it kind of helps your brain process the trauma. It works like a charm. I can't even tell you how much it has worked for me, and it works for other people who have post-traumatic stress.

Anyway, I have gone off on a little bit of a tangent. My point is that there are different ways that people deal with trauma. And when I read this, it really resonated with me as basically a "what not to do" or what ends up happening when you don't process what's happening.

So, again, this is from "the Light Through the Leaves," by Glendy Vanderah. So she says, “Trees can do this amazing thing called Compartmentalization of Decay. When they get an injury, the cells around the wound change and put up a wall that contains the process of decay. Around that wall, a different kind of change in the cells forms another wall. Then a third wall. And a fourth.” She looked at Jasper and River. “Down the hill, there’s a huge live oak that has a big hollow in its trunk, but the tree is thriving. The protective walls allowed the growth of wood to continue around the injury even as it turned hollow.”

So to me, this is an absolutely beautiful metaphor for what we do as humans when something terrible has happened to us. If we don't process that injury or trauma, it begins to rot. And we can try to build walls up to compartmentalize what has happened to us and not think about it. But it doesn't change the fact that something is rotting, and eventually we end up hollow on the inside.

My encouragement to you is that even if you feel like your trauma cannot be faced, even if you feel like you've done a good job compartmentalizing it and that it's not affecting you, the truth is it is eating away at you. And if you're able to get help in the form of a professional, you can really work through a lot of this stuff and it helps heal that.

So instead of it turning hollow, rotten, and contributing to your general stress level, you can move forward in a healthier way, where you're not interrupted by feelings of stress or things that are triggering that old trauma.

So I hope that that has helped you. If you would like more information about EMDR or finding a therapist, please don't hesitate to reach out. It would be happy to connect you with someone who can give you some more information. Again, I am on Instagram @mightyandbrightco, or you can email me at sara@mightyandbright.com.

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher

Sara Olsher is the Founder + CEO of Mighty + Bright. She's a young cancer survivor, mom, and former single mom.

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