So many people live with trauma. In fact, I'd guess everyone visits some sort of trauma every day. Someone's alarm didn't go off. Someone's hot water heater crapped out. Someone had a flat tire. Heck, someone broke a nail.
Then there are the bigger traumas. A tornado hits your town. A loved one dies. Your house burns down. You break your leg.
We also have traumas inflicted on us by other people. Beatings, knifings, shootings. Rape. Emotional brainwashing by people who are supposed to protect you.
All of these traumas have equal importance, depending on whomever is experiencing them. An alarm not going off could have earthshattering consequences. There are people to whom being knifed is just another day at the office. What makes the trauma important is how it affects the individual that experiences it.
PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, affects millions of people around the world. I live with it, myself. The theory for chronic PTSD is an accululation of trauma capped off by one major event that breaks the proverbial camel's back. Symptom's include nightmares, flashbacks, and hyperawareness of one's surroundings. You could also be paranoid and hypersensitive to insult and slights and learn to not only not trust the people around you but also to not trust yourself.
Why would you trust? You've been hurt, badly. No one seems to understand this. You've been told to just get over it. You've probably been told that the traumatic event could have been prevented if only YOU had done something differently, thereby making it YOUR FAULT! You know, logically, that the event wasn't your fault but there's this person who claims to love you telling you that it COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED. So you begin to doubt yourself. You doubt your judgment. And, you begin to doubt the person telling you this because you know deep down inside that they are wrong. Eventually, you decide that there is something REALLY WRONG WITH YOU because YOU CAUSED THIS TO HAPPEN. The truth is now irrelevent. And trust is now dead.
But, you want to keep trying. So you venture out into public. You expose little things about yourself and find out you're not alone. You start to get therapy, and find out that life might be do-able. Of course, you have to learn emotions all over again. Personally, I have had to teach myself how to react in social situations, and am still learning how to interact on a personal level. Currently, I am trying to figure out how to charm a man, something I used to do as easily as I breathe. Mixed results, so far. It's hard to figure out when we are in a situation where "sexual harassment" and loss of a job is a possibility.
You are finding out, though, that every time you think you are making progress, you run into an event that pushes a button for you. You react with strong emotion. Actually, you might be over-reacting but that's okay because for you, those emotions are very, very real. When the moment is passed you may feel embarassed, even humiliated, over your reaction. But you shouldn't. I view them as learning experiences now. An opportunity to find my buttons. An opportunity to study my reactions and to trace the emotions to their source. And the sources usually have nothing to do with the event that evoked them.
A current example- this new man. Last week, we would talk and make eye contact. His face would turn red. Definite interest being shown. Friday morning, he walked into my work space and I slumped in my chair and pulled my coat around me. I did not plan this, I did not want this, but it was a totally instinctive reaction to this man showing an interest in me. He was taken aback and physically took a half-step back. Today, he was not quite as friendly. I now have to figure out how to fix the damage. Why did I do that? Good question. The easy answer is, that I was raped. But I also had an emotionally distant family that demanded perfection so my two boyfriends were also people that I could never please so I have learned to not trust my judgment when it comes to picking men. Now, this guy comes with good references, which the others didn't, but my lizard brain ignored the memo.
Trauma. We have all experienced it. We don't all get PTSD, true enough. But before you write someone off as a whack job, stop and think. Everyone has a back story. You don't need to know what it is. But you can be a person that makes the world a safer place for them.