Moving Beyond Trauma

This weekend, we finally rented the movie Sully.

The entire time we were watching it, I kept trying to imagine what it must have been like to be him. Sully. The Captain of that ill-fated flight. A hero to the 155 passengers whose lives he protected when he decided to make that emergency landing on the Hudson River after a birdstrike took out both engines on his aircraft. I couldn't help but wonder what it must have been like for him to experience that trauma. To survive. And then to have to defend his decisions to do what he had to do. It was very emotional for me to watch and it made me wonder how he is doing now, some eight and a half years down the road. 

It has also made me think a lot about my own trauma recovery.

For the most part, I navigate my new normal well.
The fact that it has been four years now helps.
Time tends to be a huge healer.
But still there are triggers that send me back to the scene of the collision
 on Sunset where I was hit head-on by that drunk driver.

And when trauma responses happen, it can be overwhelming; when the amygdala in the brain doesn't feel safe, it goes into overdrive. Fears are heightened and anxiety tries to take over. The startle responses can be so intense that I'd just as soon stay home as go anywhere. I start to feel so weak and vulnerable that it'd be very easy to retreat, but it's really important to keep moving onward.
 Life-saving even. 

At times like these, the message on a local marquee rings true:

Looking behind keeps us from moving beyond.

Calling on my therapeutic resources moves me forward.
 I can't afford to get stuck in the past. 
I'm not there on Sunset anymore. 
I have recovered. 
I am safe. 

How can you help someone in trauma recovery?

1. Listen to us. To understand, not to reply or advise.
2. Validate our experience. Say things like, "That must have been really scary." not "You're really lucky it wasn't worse."
3. Call and check on us. I was happy for those calls, even if I didn't feel like a visit right now.
4. Drive us to our appointments. That helped me so much!
5. Bring a meal. It will be a welcomed treat to not have to cook.
6. Pray for (and with) us. That brought me peace, comfort and healing.
7. Be sensitive to the anniversary date. That day can be difficult.
8. Send us an uplifting text or email. Trauma survivors heal from those booster shots of inspiration, joy and love.
9. Offer to walk with us. It's important for us to get outdoors for some Vitamin D periodically. That's easier to do with a friend.
10. Invite us out. Start small; maybe just a jaunt for a cup of coffee or some dessert. Every baby step matters.  
Thank you, Captain Sullenberger, for your courageous example;
I pray that you have moved beyond well.

1 comment

  1. Just happened to stop by as you were on my heart this morning and want to reach out and send you HUGE HUGS! xoxo


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!