Episode 32 - Are You Making It?
Hey friends! Before we dive into today’s episode, I want to tell you about something new I’m trying. I’ve created an email opt in on my website and previously thought I’d send out exclusive, extra, behind-the-scenes information from some episodes. What I’m finding out is that I’m much more inclined to tell you, ALL the listeners, all the “stuff” here than I am to keeping some of it private. It’s part of the transparency journey that God has me on in doing this podcast in the first place. Anyway, because of this, I’m making a little pivot with this opt in and wanting to create a tool for anyone who wishes to go a little deeper on each episode topic for their own personal development. I’m creating a podcast worksheet for each episode. I’ve got the first one done and would like to offer it to you if you’d like. So, to get it, all you have to do is go to my website, triciazody.com and opt in when that little circle pops up. You’ll get an email right away with the episode one pdf worksheet. Then I’ll send you the worksheets from episodes 2 and 3 after that. That’s it. Easy peasy.
Okay, let’s dive into Episode 32 - Are You Making It?
Along the way, I’ve had people ask me how I’m doing it - how I’m moving forward with such strength after the trauma of losing my husband to suicide. I even had someone recently call and she literally said with an honest but anguished twinge in her voice, “Tricia, are you making it? Are you truly making it? I need to know. Because if you are making it, then maybe I can, too.”
I’m in a private Facebook group with about 5000 other widows. Some of the questions I see asked over and over again are, “How long am I going to be grieving this devastating loss?” And “Is anyone getting better? Is anyone living a good life after the death of their husband?” One young widow said, “I lost my husband 8 weeks ago and I found this group right away. I’m concerned, though, because all I see are posts from people whose husbands passed away long ago and they still sound so desperate and lost. Please tell me this is not going to be my life.”
If you’re here listening to this podcast and you’re wondering the same. “Am I destined for debilitating sorrow all my life, or can I actually make it? If your grief is so deep, the hurt is so excruciating, that you can’t see through the dense cloud of sadness that surrounds you, my emphatic answer is this: “You can make it! You can make it, too, friend. It might look a little different for you, and that’s okay. Everyone’s journey on the other side of trauma looks a little differently. But rest assured, if you choose not to stay in a place of desperation and feeling lost, then you will most certainly make it!”
So, how do you come out on the other side of trauma? What is on the other side of trauma? Is there truly another side of trauma? Or is trauma something to be stuck in?
Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma can mean something - or look like something - completely different from one person to another. Two people can even experience the same event, and one person can be traumatized by it and the other not at all. Why is that?
And whether a traumatic event is categorically big or small is subjective. One person can become extraordinarily traumatized by an event that’s seemingly small or insignificant to another person. We all come to perceive or interpret events in our lives - past or present - based on our cognitive function and emotional intelligence, and everything gets filtered through that bifocal lens. Past experiences also play a large role in what constitutes present trauma to us individually.
So, the answer to the question, “How do you come out on the other side of trauma” is going to be subjective, as well. But we all come out on the other side of trauma. And that just means that the event was the trauma, and after experiencing that event - on the other side - we are permanently affected and may have varying degrees of emotional responses to the trauma. I say that we’re permanently affected by a traumatic event because the things we experience in life, all things good and bad, have some sort of psychological and even spiritual effect on us. For example, we know that people who go through physical illnesses tend to have a greater measure of empathy and compassion for others in physical pain due to their own experiences. Spiritually, a traumatic event can bring us closer to our heavenly Father. Trauma changes us. And a traumatic event can also affect us in detrimental ways if we allow the emotional responses to overwhelm our lives without getting the necessary help to journey through it. And I do mean “journey through it,” because you cannot deny it or ignore it away. It will not GO away. You must journey through it. And that is called grief.
Grief comes in response to a loss. But grief is not relegated to just the loss of a loved one. You can grieve the loss of childhood innocence, the loss of a dream, the loss of a job. You can grieve the loss of a part of your physical body, the loss of your home, the loss of your personal security, or even a loss due to a bad decision. And remember, any one of these losses can and will affect everyone in different ways and to varying degrees.
So, how do we journey through it well, rightly, so that we’re sure to “make it?” To thrive. To live again. Because surely you want to make it. Right? No matter what you’ve experienced.
When reading the young woman’s post on the Facebook group page saying, “Please tell me this is not going to be my life,” I hear such desperation to grasp onto any thread of hope she could find. I could hear in her plea that she did not want to stay stuck in the overwhelming emotional response to her trauma. I think she is all of us. We want to find life on the other side of trauma. Right? But, sometimes we need help.
As you know, if you’ve listened to some of my podcasts, I am a huge proponent for getting the help you need; to laying all pride aside for the sake of your mental, emotional, physical, and relational well-being; to loving yourself - and might I add, the others around you - enough to seek help. And just a quick side note: Even if you think you’re hiding it well and functioning at a high level, if you think your brokenness is not affecting the people around you, whether that be your spouse, your children, grandchildren, or your friends or even your co-workers, you are in some serious denial. If you’re not yet in a place to love yourself enough to get help, do it for them. So, we are going to debunk the idea that going to a therapist means that you’re non-functioning. I believe everyone, EVERYONE, should see a therapist and do work on things of the past – especially their childhood. We all got somethin’ I promise you.
I’ve had some people ask me, “how do you know when you need to see a licensed therapist as opposed to a Life Coach and Mentor?” I know I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but where therapy takes a look at past wounds, trauma, etc with therapies such as EMDR to provide healing there, Life Coaching takes you from your present place (and in my case, in my Life Coaching business with Christian woman, your present spiritual, physical, and emotional place) and moves you forward.
And in order to journey through, it’s important to understand - and again, this is just the cognitive function part - it’s important to understand that your thoughts create your emotions. The way you think about something or someone produces emotions as a reaction to that something or someone. And emotional processing is critical to “making it” on the other side of trauma in regard to that something or someone.
That young widow’s question on the Facebook group page garnered over 200 comments. I was pleased to see that one of them said, “It’s all in how you look at it.” That is it right there, my friends. It’s all in how you look at or think about the event. Now, let me be quick to say, you don’t have to look at an awful or tragic event as “good” or even “okay” in order to be able to thrive after trauma. That just doesn’t even make sense, right? But there are ways to think about the event, and ways to apply truth to the beliefs behind those thoughts, that serve to bring balance, logic and reasoning to the emotional response that allows us to move forward in life. To “make it.” It’s possible! Stuck in your overwhelming emotional response does not have to be your life.
Grieve, yes, but grieve well. Take time to process…as much time as you need. Have a good cry, or two, or two-thousand for that matter. Whatever it takes. But promise me, promise yourself, promise the ones you love that you won’t stay there. Because, dear believer, there’s kingdom work to be done. God purposes to redeem your brokenness. It’s one of the things He does best. He heals the gaping wounds and takes what has caused trauma in your life and uses it for good.
I’m sure by now this may sound like a broken record. But I say it again and again because I know it to be true. He’s done it in my life. Mine is a redemptive story. Another beautiful life woven together by a redeeming, scarlet thread. That thread can be recognized in every intricate part of my journey on the other side of trauma. THIS is why I’m making it: because of the way I’m choosing to look at it - with God’s help - with His lens; to apply His truth to how I think about it. And “It” being not only the traumatic event itself, but how I think about my present and my future life.
And friend, yes, if I can make it, with God’s help and His truth, so can you!