• jess

Fix your Trauma Mindset, Step Four - Your MFucking Narrative

Updated: May 21

A lot of motherfuckers have been talking about how overwhelmed they feel writing about their trauma. Totally fair. Besides being unnerved by the ever present potential for triggerings, the information is probably disorganized and confusing.


That’s sortof the problem.


I’m not out to push anyone beyond their comfort zone. I don’t want anyone ripping open old wounds without proper first aid skills. But there is merit in writing about your experience.


If you don’t believe me (or think I’m on a sales mission for the notebook industry, with all my journal-talk) check out this fascinating research by Emory University Professor, Dr. Fivush. She specializes in researching the use of narration as a form of trauma processing.


Oh man - sound familiar? Maybe there’s actually a point to all this?


How does storytelling treat trauma?



A quick note: I have this whole thing laid out “step by step” for a reason, but if you’re needing life-inspiration to get started with the “earlier steps” of healthier living or making time for yourself - start here instead. No problem.

For me, it was necessary to quiet my body, gain some confidence, understand where my pessimism started, and begin recognizing other possibilities before I could find a new life goal to focus on. Knocking down those hierarchical needs to free up some brain space and recognize new possibilities, you know?


You might be different. Do what you gotta do in whatever order you gotta do it.

Step One - Get Mad

Step Two - Reduce your Dietary Discomfort

Step Two point Five - Move your Ass

Step Three - Get Educated on Trauma Physiology

Step Four - Write your Trauma Narrative

Step Five - Give yourself Purpose

Step Six - GIve yourself a Break




An endless loop.


Go back to my last post, if needed. There’s some quick, to the point, biological background of “trauma brain” that you might need to brush up on.


Basically, you know how you get songs stuck in your head? They play endlessly, out of order, repeating only certain notes?


Yeah, that’s what your brain is doing on trauma.


Something weird happened, your brain thought “Oh, no way,” and started coming up with new stories to make sense of the event. Unfortunately, it missed a few pieces. It gathered a few (probably maladaptive) take-away messages, but failed to process the beginning, middle, and end of the journey.


When you never close the loop and therefore never bring completion to your story, your brain will keep running with it. The experience feels very current and relevant, as though you’re trapped in the moment. Rather than remembering it as being a part of the past, the story is received as though it’s the present. You’re reliving the experience, over and over again. You’ll never lay it to rest if your brain thinks it’s a current threat.


That means, you’ll never wipe the slate clean and open up new space in your thinker. You might experience chronic intrusive thoughts, difficulty focusing, anxiety, depression, obsession, dissociation, etc, etc, etc… because your silly brain still hasn’t gotten over that shitty day (year(s)) way back when.



Closing the loop.


How do we lay our bullshit primitive thoughts and memories to rest? We need to wrap them up in a way that makes sense to our rational thinking brains. Internalize the tale, end the story, set the book on a shelf, move on to the next thing.


We need to tell ourselves a story that follows cohesively from start to finish - up until now our memories have been skipping like a walkman and we’ve never finished the audio.


If you ask me, ideally, the story has a purpose, and the ending leads to a new beginning. There is a cause, a struggle, and an uplifting effect. There weren’t random, ungrounded events; there’s a purposeful plot line with everything neatly in its place.


Most importantly, by the end of the tale, you should be the valiant protagonist in your story. We should use this motherfucking opportunity to build ourselves up, rather than repeat the same Fucked Up Core Beliefs (FUCBees, if you’re new here) that have put us in this shitty place to begin with. Don’t write your self-hatred or shaming into the novel; assume your character is only armed with the innocence and idealism of a child. (That’s where all your troubles began anyways, isn’t it?)



Getting started.


How can you begin to examine difficult times in your life and organize the details into a chronological and purposeful hero's journey? Being nice to yourself might not be your strong point. Thinking of horrendous past life events as victorious experiences probably doesn’t come natural to you. Finding positive life lessons in chaos probably sounds like spit shining shit.


Let’s work through it.



Think of what you’ve been through - kindly.


Pick a situation or a general period of time in your life. Remember it, cautiously. Not the explicit details of it - not the ways you were out of control and victimized. Don’t start wallowing or touching live wires. Triggering yourself is not the point.


Instead, take a birds eye view of the situation, as if you’re looking in from the emotionless outside, and dull the experience down a little. Focus on facts.


(i.e. Instead of reliving hearing your drunk dad coming home and berating your mom, tell yourself “I grew up in an abusive household with an alcoholic father.” Keep it as shallow as necessary to start feeling out the story without causing an avalanche of emotions.)



Consider your character.


It’s important not to think of yourself in your current situation. You probably weren’t the same human as you are today, so you can’t judge yourself as such. No self-shaming or blaming. No calling yourself stupid. No blanket statements about what you should/shouldn’t have done.


I mean, maybe you were only a kid when this happened (if not, try to consider yourself childlike, anyways). Could you imagine another child experiencing what you went through? How would you feel about that little scooter? Would you be amazed by their resilience? Would you want to tell them what a strong little warrior they are?


Or would you blame them for being affected by the scenario?


Yeah, right, so leave yourself the fuck alone. You were a kid, literally or metaphorically. You wouldn’t yell at a child or tell them the awful things that run through your own brain. Be nice and appreciate the halo of innocence you once had.



Think of the outcome.


No, don’t get down on yourself. Don’t think of all the negative effects on your life and your brain. Instead, consider the fact that YOU SURVIVED. Have you ever stopped and considered how incredible that is? Have you ever patted yourself on the back for still standing at the end of your ordeal? A freaked out little kid, looking wide-eyed at a world that they never experienced before… but still alive and on two feet.


How do you feel about that kiddo? Probably like giving them a squeeze and a trophy.



Look for lessons.


Right, so there’s not always a pot of gold at the end of the shitbow… but, certainly there’s some positive takeaway from your recollection. Maybe from growing up with AA dad, you learned how dangerous alcohol addiction could be. Maybe you decided you’d never be with someone who spoke to you the way your parents screamed at each other. Maybe you learned to be independent and self-soothing.


If nothing is coming to mind, just maintain the amazing fact that YOU MADE IT OUT ALIVE.


As a small, scared little animal, you navigated the dangerous path necessary to continue existing. That’s a pretty big deal. You did it.




Define Success


So, you had shitty stuff happen. It changed you forever. You never had a choice in the matter. You’re still affected to this day.


What happened afterwards? You went off into the world and just did your fucking best. You rose from disaster - somehow, in some way, persevering. Even if you don’t feel like you came out on the winning end of an obstacle, trust that you did.


Whatever happened, you won. Simply by caring enough about yourself to keep going, you did it. Any advancement - big or small - after a traumatic event is a huge success. Staying in school, keeping away from hard drugs, leaving abusive relationships similar to your parents’... everything is a success.



Engage Indignance


It’s okay to be mad about what happened. The world dealt you a shit hand (or five), told you to find a door and fuck off through it. In response, you said “No thanks, I’ll live as best I can.”

Now let’s throw in a “And you can GIT FUCKED, yourself,” for good measure.


Look at what a little badass you were, surviving and thriving (as much as possible for a scared little critter). XY&Z were thrown your direction and you kept going. You’ve been held back in the past. You’ve had challenges in your thinking and processing. You’ve struggled to find your direction. But that time is over.


Shit happened TO YOU. You didn’t bring it on yourself. It doesn’t mean anything about your value, rights, or fate as a human being. You don’t have a destiny of doom. You aren’t trapped in an endless cycle. You’ve been through hard times, and you’ve risen to the top - whether or not you could see how amazing your journey was at the time, it deserves to be acknowledged now.



Find pride and power


Remember how you’re still alive? Good job. You win.


Fuck the people who hurt you, fuck the circumstances that allowed it to happen, and fuck the years of your life that you’ve lost to it.


You’re a strong, tough, traumatized motherfucker. And you know more than most. You’ve been through it all. You’ve continued to battle with invisible enemies ever since.


Nobody knows the badass you are.


Ride off into the motherfucking sunset.


You have the knowledge, the experience, and the grit to get through anything. You have the ability to help others with what you’ve learned.


You’re not damaged goods. You’re a fucking hero. And this is your tale.




My childhood narrative.


I’m a fan of uncomfortable vulnerability - let’s use the lifetime trauma narration that pulled my head out of the ground last year as an example!


Before I was born, I was surrounded by trauma. My family was toxic, abusive, and damaged before I entered the picture. My childhood was not safe or stable. My parents and brothers were abusive, and addiction ruled the household. It was violent and chaotic. I didn’t know how to react or how to feel about these people who were supposed to protect me. I started to isolate and internalize what was happening.


Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, I met adversity time and time again. There was never a sense of stability, security, or calm. Still, I kept my head down and worked hard. I earned great grades at school without any provocation. Years later, I left the shit town where drug addictions sprouted and put myself through college. I worked my ass off and wormed my way into cellular cancer research, where I was given new opportunities and acknowledged for my determination.


I never would have been so determined, vigilant, and responsible if I hadn’t lived through the past 20 years of chaos. I didn’t let abuse, addiction, or financial restrictions determine my fate. I found a way out. I built a better life for myself. I learned to be diligent, prepared, and strong because of my experiences. No matter how many times I was pushed under water, I always rose to the top.


Trauma has always impacted my life, and it has certainly held me back at times. I've made mistakes since, and they have been directly caused by my survival attempts. I was an innocent little kid, and I didn't understand how to cope with what I saw. Because of the abusive pieces of shit in my distant past, I am a changed human being. But I don’t want to let assholes decide my fate anymore. I’ve already been through that. I’ve already proven that I’m more powerful than my abuse. I don’t need to live in fear or relive old memories.


I am the victor.


Find two more examples: Birdseye and Granular.




Need a hand?


This is the message that kick started a lot of progress in my life at the end of 2018. Kudos to my therapist - she’s the one who reframed my sob story into a success story. Of course, I never gave myself credit for the positive outcomes described above.


If you need someone to remind you of your excellence, ask someone you trust what they think is amazing about you. What are your most revered personality characteristics? What impresses people most about you? What have you accomplished and promptly forgotten?


When in doubt, phone someone nicer to you than you are to yourself.



Got a story to tell? You know the drill. Shoot me an email any time at traumatizedmotherfxckers@gmail.com I’ll get back to ya ASAP.


Git writing.


xx

Jess

Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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