I don’t know who you are. I don’t know exactly what you’re going through. But if you’ve had traumatising experiences and are processing them silently, you’re not alone.
I understand there are many reasons why you choose to hide your difficult feelings from others, or perhaps you don’t have a choice at all — it’s the only option you’ve ever had. So, you jot down your thoughts in your padlocked notebook, you cry quietly at night until you’re too tired to keep your eyes open, you channel your pain into your hobbies and work, or you let yourself drift soullessly through the motions of life.
I understand you feel all alone in this pain and sometimes even helpless — you don’t know if there’s ever an end to your suffering. You don’t know if you could pull yourself out of this dark psychological hole you couldn’t see the bottom of. You feel ashamed for taking so long to get over whatever happened because it doesn’t make any sense to you. You’re scared of all the things you were blinded to, of all the ways this trauma has affected you.
I feel you because I am you.
You’re not alone.
Like you and many others, I carry with me the weight of many traumas, both old and recent. For a long time, I was at the mercy of my own inner working. I would say I’m an intuitive and highly self-aware person with good psychological knowledge, but there was only so much I could do to contain those traumas within my little body.
Last year, they broke out and threatened every aspect of my life.
I had to attend therapy properly because I was close to collapsing and couldn’t handle the pain alone. During that time, due to fear and shame, I sought no support from my social circle. I kept the trauma to myself and downplayed the entire experience by omitting truths and deflecting questions. I only let my therapist at the time in. But, after some time, I started to feel too exposed and vulnerable, so I shut him out.
Since then, I’ve never felt quite ready and comfortable to share the wounded parts of me that only I know. I could open up to my loved ones, but they’re simply not qualified to work me through my traumas in the thick of things — it’s not their job. I know I need a therapist and I will go back to therapy at some point, but for now — well, back to this article — I’m doing it in silence, and I want you to know that it’s okay if you are too.
It’s okay to be going through what you’re going through.
Considering that you’re doing it all alone and you can only tend to your trauma in odd moments — without really knowing how to do so, of course, it will take a long time and it will be challenging.
A critical part of healing comes from being understood by another human being.
When you process your trauma in silence, you don’t have that. You have to do it for yourself. You have to break down your overwhelming experiences and put them into perspective at the same time. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and immediately toughen yourself up. You have to watch yourself cry and wipe away the tears as they roll down your cheeks — all privately.
When you’re triggered and react to someone in a disharmonious way, you can’t expect their empathy because they don’t know your “why.” You don’t even know where to begin. “I’m not strange or broken,” you scream in your head, “I’m in a lot of pain,” but no words come out. See, while you’re keeping your trauma a secret, they show themselves in different ways anyway.
A useful tip
I would recommend you going to therapy and talking to your loved ones, but if it’s not possible, one thing that I find helpful is journalling.
At this stage, it goes without saying that you must make sure you’re physically and psychologically distant from your triggers. Then, you need to give your traumatic experiences the space they need, so your brain is conscious of them and they can’t control you in the dark — or even hurt you in your dreams.
Let out all your feelings and thoughts surrounding the traumatic events — you’ll realise they’re not so scary after all.
Acknowledge them. Accept them. You don’t even need to give them a narrative — you just need to be with them for a little while. They will tell you stories about yourself and give you clues about the things you were blinded to. Over time, you will understand your “why” better and your traumas will hopefully become lighter.
Importantly, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of your speed of healing. It might take a year, two years, or many years. It might stay with you in one way or another. And that’s fine. There’s no right or wrong in the way you experience and process your traumas. They’re yours, they’re unique to you, they are your seeds of growth — let them revive you.
To you who are processing your trauma in silence, the hidden wounded parts of you don’t define you. You’re doing well.