Years ago, when one of my clients was describing the mistreatment she’d endured in her life, I gently yet curiously observed that she’d just narrated her account as if she’d been reading a newspaper article. This took her aback, yet she at once recognized the truth of my words. Matter-of-fact, very practical and without much emotion—that was indeed how she’d told her story.
She also recognized why: not because the trauma hadn’t impacted her, but because it had been so severe her mind simply hadn’t been able to take it in, and her nervous system had been locked in a nearly perpetual freeze mode. Sure, it was a functional freeze—she’d still managed to keep up with daily chores and life obligations—yet she’d done so in an internally stilted state, unable to feel the compounded trauma because it was simply too much to bear. However, as a consequence she was also unable to feel joy, gratitude, happiness …
Yet there’s one thing we all need to remember: Lack of hope leads to despair, and despair is the enemy of healing.
How can we avoid this trap of despair? How is healing even possible?
Jenny duBay, Trauma-Informed Christian life coach.