“No one believes what I’m going through - they think I should just ‘get over it’.”
I have heard this from so many of my clients.
They ask how to help their families, their people, their friends, and their partner understand what they are experiencing, and why they are “different”.
It is incredibly frustrating for folks who have experienced a trauma, to describe how much this has impacted them, and how incredibly invalidating it can be for their support group to not understand.
I have heard it all — “she needs to just get over it”, “but why are they still messed up; it’s over now, so they should be back to normal”....... or my favorite “stop acting like that”.
My clients know all too well how much their trauma has changed them — they feel different, they think different, and they may act different. Trying to explain this, while feeling, acting, and thinking different, is like trying to put a watermelon through a straw; something might get through, but what does get through doesn’t help others understand.
I find that the easiest way to help loved ones of those who have experienced trauma, is to speak with these loved ones directly. My clients are already struggling with getting their thoughts straight, and trying to explain why they aren’t thinking “right”, well, is just going to be frustrating and alienating.
And no one needs that while trying to move through a traumatic experience right?
I do my best to help loved ones understand this through metaphors, practical advice and tips, and give them a little bit of science. I remind them that most often, their loved one is reacting to some form of a reminder of the trauma, and that when that reminder gets triggered, it’s off to the races in trying to protect themselves.
I help loved ones understand that this isn’t about their loved one being different - they are different. They have changed due to something happening to them, that should not have ever happened. But it did, and they are now trying to protect themselves from it ever happening again.
Not all of these loved ones “get it”, and not all of them dismiss it. But the one thing I tell myself is now they know. What they do with that knowledge is up to them, but they can’t say they haven’t been informed.
My clients are struggling with putting their lives back together after a devastating experience.
They are fighting hard to resume their lives before this experience, and trust me, they want to be “back to normal”.
They aren’t behaving or being different just to annoy you; or to push you away; or to make things harder for you.
They are in a real battle with their thoughts, their emotions, and their actions.
They are doing all they can to keep you away from what they are dealing with, and they are also trying to protect themselves.
None of this is intentional, or on purpose.
Your loved one has survived something that was meant to break them — so allow them to try and put those pieces back together.