Last week, following another Understanding Trauma course I ran, I had several conversations with attendees who confessed to me that at some point in the sessions they had stopped listening to me and started counting. That was fine by me – what they were really saying was they could relate to what I was talking about; there were things they had experienced in their own life that fell into the category of ‘trauma’ and they were owning it…some of them for the first time.
The thing is that none of these ladies let slip anything during the evening: they were focused on being professional, listening, learning, talking or counting! These confessions happened afterwards and 1:1. So as well as them going home with a fresh realisation of having experienced trauma in their own lives – and the impact it might still be having, they also went way with the impression that the only other person who knew trauma from inside experience, in that room was me.
And this is a pattern. People often come up to me after an event I am running, or training in their school (even if it’s not specifically about trauma – go figure!) and say “can I have a word?”
What I want to let you all know is this : it is not just the children who have been through trauma and are still living in bodies and minds that have not yet processed those experiences. Even though it might feel and seem like it, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE.
The percentage of staff in all sorts of schools, and at all levels of leadership, who are still living with the impact of trauma in their own lives is (in my experience) significant.
This is good news and bad…
- If we can remember what it is like – we can have more empathy for the children and parents we are working with.
- If we can own what has happened to us, and process it, what may have dominated our past can loose its power in our present and becomes used at our choosing, for good in our future.
- When we take time, commit to and invest in our own healing (which doesn’t have to mean talking about it), life not only becomes more fulfilling for us, we each become a beacon of hope to others (big and small) who are still living in the shadow of trauma.
- If we don’t acknowledge what has happened to us then trauma will affect our bodies, and over time can lead to all sorts of physical problems.
- Trauma that happened to us as a child will keep us locked in unhealthy relationship patterns, unable to discern the truth of who we are and what is right and fair and good in how we should treat and be treated as adults.
- Trauma impacts brain function. Trying to hold it together working in a school, especially with management responsibilities becomes harder than hard, and yet we daren’t let anyone else know we are struggling to keep afloat.
Trauma can change you. Yes.
Trauma does not have to be a life sentence.
I celebrate, honour and respect every one of the school staff who have spoken to me about this in the last few months; well done for finding your voice and reaching out to own your story: the first step is always the hardest.
I celebrate and honour and respect each of the staff I am working with individually as they journey into their healing and wholeness; it takes courage to step out of your isolation, ask for help and embark on your journey from surviving to thriving – an adventure that requires courage and tenacity: you are stronger than you think.
And I honour and respect everyone of you who may find encouragement and hope through these words, to know there are people out there who get it, get you: you are not alone.