“The mourning process is a perfect example of flawless dyadic regulation of categorical emotions: The individual’s immersion in the full experience of grief (core affect) is contingent upon the availability of a support system.” – Diana Fosha, Healing Trauma: Attachment, Mind, Body, and Brain
Many of us strive to be well, perfect, or successful. But few voices in our culture teach us what it’s like to be sick, or how to cope with a loss, how to navigate chaos, or how to die.
Here are some important ideas to remember:
Trauma is unavoidable. Trauma and hard times are part of being human.
Traumas shut down ways of being. Create space to heal from losses, big and small. Grief works—it is our natural way of healing. Embrace the ongoing process of grieving.
Every trauma is different. The trauma of growing up in a disadvantaged community is different than physical violence, which is different than public shaming, a painful illness, or a childhood spent with emotionally unavailable caregivers. Everyone’s story is different.
You are not broken, deprived, or less-than for having experienced trauma. You are right where you need to be. Resolution of your circumstances may or may not be possible, but your mindset can always evolve.
There is no such thing as normal or perfect health. Physical bodies are dynamic systems, always breaking down, getting sick, and dying. Likewise, there is no version of “mental health” that is optimal for all circumstances.
Emotions can’t kill you. All your thoughts and emotions are valid, but that doesn’t mean they are “you.” Giving into despair and shame is often a choice to side with those who hurt you. Side with yourself first. There is always a part of you that can observe your suffering—that “observer” is not suffering.
Get help. Also: avoid or lovingly detach from people, things, and patterns that don’t seem to help.
You are not alone. You are normal. You are loving. You are loved.