Welcome to Day 8 of #write28days of Nervous System Regulation! The chosen word for today was “shock.” I am briefly going to discuss a related idea: Trauma. I’m going to keep it short and to the point, because honestly, it’s a deep topic and it can be dysregulating! And I’m not feeling up to being even more dysregulated today. (*self care high five!* LOL) Nor do I want the same for you.
Lately, the “buzzwords” about trauma is that there is “Big T Trauma” and “Little t trauma”. What they mean is some things seem inherently very traumatic and most people agree that this is so – Big T Trauma are things like going to war, being in a severe accident, a violent crime. It can also be an ongoing situation like domestic violence.
Little t trauma inducing things are less life threatening, but still cause a feeling of helplessness, distress, loss, or fear. Many people who are dealing with childhood trauma are dealing with these things, repeated over many months or years.
I’m going to use my little space here to get on my soapbox and say, I don’t like the Big T – Little t designation, especially when it comes to childhood trauma, because to children who are stuck in families and helpless, little things ARE big things. I feel it still kind of minimizes things to call it “little t trauma.” I mean, a flood of 10 feet can ruin a house just like a flood of 15 feet can. It is still uninhabitable. It is not better just because it was less high. And it’s all very subjective. To me a flooded nervous system is a flooded nervous system, no matter what caused it.
Another problem I have with calling it little t trauma is that people you turn to will minimize your pain if they think it’s not traumatic. Until we teach society that “trauma is trauma” I think millions of people won’t get the true help they need.
But anyway, I’ll give you one example of what I’m sure would be called “little t” trauma from my own life, but one that had an extreme effect on me. I’m going to try to be a bit vague to avoid throwing anyone in particular “under the bus.” I’ll start off by saying I’m adopted, which primed my nervous system to feel insecure in relationships. If the person who should love me the most (my mother) abandoned me, who is safe?? So in my childhood, a family member worked from home. I used to come home from school and go right to my room, because they were working and I didn’t want to bother them. They started getting upset about that and lectured me about saying hi when I came home. OK…so I started doing that. One day a few weeks later I called “Hi _______!” from the door, and they screamed and cursed at me, because they were on the phone when I did that. That event was terribly traumatizing to me (it was not the only one of it’s kind, but it sticks out to me). It set my already sensitive nervous system into overdrive. I was put in a double bind – I was shamed if I didn’t say hello and I was cursed and screamed at if I did say hello. What does a child do with that? It leads to a feeling that *every action* is unsafe, even though if you asked the general public, they would not call being yelled at a Big T trauma. I was a kind, quiet child and so I shut down instead of rebelling, and learned to fawn and people please like a champ.
I believe I brought that into my adult life, and I am working very hard to overcome that now. Step one is, you guessed it, improving my nervous system regulation! 🙂
Well that is enough trauma talk for today. I pray the Lord’s peace and blessings on you all after reading about trauma!