Coping with trauma
How I see and understand myself, is how I also recognize the same in others. I believe that most behaviors are derived from trauma as coping, and compensating, with the loss that the trauma often included, whether factual or emotional. We become hurt or harmed in some way, when we're young and then we keep this as a factor in all our encounters that we now must defend ourselves against. What I gather, especially women, tend to internalise their pain and then taking it out on themselves rather than acting out in violence, or the body attacks itself, through various stress related diseases like auto-immune disorders, like I have gluten and lactose-intolerance.
I read this article in Washington Post yesterday, and thought of myself and my PTSD and my recent brush with Swedish authorities. One would think that the medical faculties would applaud and be grateful for my insights and willingness to work on healing my PTSD, but as usual their own power-play and wish to be in charge of the diagnosis instead of respecting that physician, has totally ruined my trust and confidence in the same.
The first time, I really realised that I had PTSD was in year 2000, when one of my classmates at Malmo University; Nils, came up to me from behind, put his hand on my shoulder and said hi. I was completely aware of that it was nothing else but regular friendliness from his part, but immediately I grew tense and almost turned around to hit him. Why? Because, I was assaulted in 1991 by a guy attacking me from behind. I understood this, yet I couldn't stop my own reaction. My body reacted, regardless of any intellectual understanding, which in fact is exactly what it's supposed to do in a fight or flight situation. It's just that this situation at the library, wasn't. Already, when I was 9 years old, I remember the fear I felt when I heard and saw military helicopters land on the roof of a nearby hospital during a heavy winter blizzard. Later, I learned, that they had triggered a memory that my two year old self had, of fleeing into one in Lebanon with my parents, as my Dad had been there to write a story, seconds before a war broke out.
Little by little, I have put my pieces back together and eventually I learned to understand how my body becomes affected by others' threats, that are indeed factual. Like the hierarchy of needs, as proposed by Maslow, we must tend to our basic ones first. If these are not met, such as feeling safe or simply having eaten properly, these unmet needs will push through also in other circumstances, like a friendly discussion at a library. (I shared all this with Nils later, so there wouldn't be any misunderstandings and he was all cool.)
All people have endured trauma to some extent. It's even a trauma to be born. The difference lies in how much, for how long, and how aware (or most often not) we are of how we cope, and seek to compensate.
I see with my heart. Feel others with it. So, that woman fighting her own shadow at a shelter in Honolulu 2010, hearing voices, was not schizophrenic that the staff said, but simply upset with an adversary she hadn't been able to fight off, whereupon society made her into something of a lesser value, providing her with less means. I reckon, her assault happened when she was much younger than when I was subjected to one. Her pain so great, she probably couldn't stand it and blocked it out, while I understood mine and remained aware and awake.
The only way to collectively heal, is by addressing the original traumas that we have faced, feel its pain, acknowledge the hurt, and become our own best parent, to our inner child.