Brianna, with deep respect, I respectfully submit these comments from a friend and highly respected colleague in the world of homelessness and recovery. Steven Samra has experienced trauma, substance abuse, homelessness and more, plus he emerged to be able to guide others who work with these populations. I posted your article on my FB page last night, feeling like you captured the essence of trauma sufferers. And I have to say I was wrong, for reasons listed below.
Diane I have to say, I read this, twice, because i was really trying to give her credit for trying to tackle this, but honestly, the piece in many ways sort of “victim blames” those of us with trauma — here’s a prime example: “Those who master their lives do not let emotions master them.”
Those of us with trauma histories read that and we feel like failures because we’ve been unable to “master” our lives, BECAUSE of the trauma. This piece is dangerous, badly ill informed, provides no discussion about actual trauma therapy or work that would actually help a person suffering from trauma, and leaves those of us with trauma feeling less than, broken, stupid because we can’t control our lives, and shameful that we’re not as good as the rest of the world.
She states that “At the root of most poor life choices is some form of trauma. Trauma is not an emotion in itself, it is actually the stopping of emotion.” Poor life choices? Nice victim blaming again. And “the stopping of emotion?” Ridiculous: “Emotional reactions to trauma can vary greatly and are significantly influenced by the individual’s sociocultural history. Beyond the initial emotional reactions during the event, those most likely to surface include anger, fear, sadness, and shame. However, individuals may encounter difficulty in identifying any of these feelings for various reasons.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/)
I share this with you because trauma work is difficult and has vast potential to retraumatize the person at any step of the way. Those who actually do trauma work know how easy it is to trigger us, and are usually well prepared to address that retraumatization when it occurs.
Unfortunately, folks like the author of this piece are nowhere around when someone reads it and is devastated by the ignorance and shaming that will occur. I know, because even as deep into trauma work as I am right now with a top tier therapist, that is exactly what happened to me when i read this, and I instantly got triggered and pissed off. Today I have the skills to cope with everything that just happened, but a year ago, 5 years ago, 15 years ago? That crap may have festered in me for days and who knows, it may have just confirmed the internal “you’re no good” message that plays for many of us trauma survivors every day. I do not want to think about how I might have previously handled this because it was a long, dark road. People like the author here made the road that much harder with ignorance, shame, and guilt.