What Is Considered a Traumatic Event?

I was told that I was a very strong person for going through so much trauma as a child. Of course at 10, 11, 12, etc… I only thought, “what trauma?” I guess to me it seemed normal to have a father in the hospital for life, to have people die and to move somewhere else when they did. By the time I was 10 I had gone to 31/2 funerals out of the 5 deaths in my family. I was “too young” to go to my mother’s and I was in the parking lot for my cousin’s (that’s the 1/2). Aunt Lily died in ’77 and we went to Baltimore for that one.

The dictionary defines Trauma as: 1. deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

2. Emotional shock following a stressful event or physical injury.

3. 1 the trauma of divorce: shock, upheaval, distress, stress, strain, pain,anguish,

suffering, upset, agony, misery, sorrow, grief, heartache,heartbreak, torture; ordeal,

trial, tribulation, trouble, worry, anxiety;nightmare, hell, hellishness.

As I aged I understood death more and my emotions surfaced more. I believe it was ’82 when Judy’s father died. I was very sad. But one thought kept in my mind was, “these boys shouldn’t have to go through this like I had to.” I didn’t want anyone to have to experience death like me. I was used to it and they were not. I wish I could have protected them from it. Weird for kid to think this? Maybe not.

I never felt like I suffered from a “traumatic childhood”. But each funeral as I grew proved otherwise. Then there was 9/11. I still cry from the pictures. The waiting to hear from family was the hardest part. Going to work and helping children get through an hour of lessons without letting them see me emotional was the second hardest. 9/11 proved that you don’t have to be in direct fire to be affected by a traumatic event.

Moving to a new state can be stressful too. A new marriage is stressful. Financial problems are stressful. Being jobless can be traumatic. Miscarriages are emotionally, physically, and psychologically draining. However, it wasn’t until  after my husband’s accident with the ride on lawn mower that I finally saw  the symptoms of PTSD. We were sleepless, depressed, I cried at everything and nothing. When I saw the symptoms of course I thought, I was never in a war, Or was I?

By 42 years old, I had experienced probably 14 deaths of people ranging from age 21(a college friend) to 97. I had gotten married, moved to a new state 8 hours from NJ, in a different culture, proven I was adaptable, had 4 miscarriages, lost jobs, gained jobs, watched my husband do the same, watched my husband lose 3 fingers, and now suffer through a posterior dislocation of his shoulder and be out of work until that heals (which means more financial problems to come).

So, what do I do when traumatic events hit me? I stay as strong as I can, choose the times to cry, take St. John’s Wort, and observe short term memory loss, sleeplessness, emotional outbursts, depression lasting longer than a month or 2 etc… Then I try to lessen these  through prayer and determination.

What is trauma? It is things in life that happen and affect our emotions, our psychology, and sometimes impedes on us physically. Life and Faith is all about how we handle the traumatic things in life. You have a choice, you can go into a corner and curl up like a cocktail shrimp and hope it all goes away and cry “victim” your whole life OR you can pray and approach the trauma in a more practical and assertive manner. I was taught the practical way and that way is a more active part of life.

Bottom line: I have handled traumatic events without turning to alcohol or drugs and I know that many people can not say that. I am living proof, and so are my brothers, that it can be done. We defied the statistics and so can others.


3 thoughts on “What Is Considered a Traumatic Event?

  1. I remember meeting you as a child, and it was obvious that you’d had a traumatic life. I recall a lot of time spent just standing about, chatting with other people with my arms around you, but it always just seemed like the natural thing to do. You were like a little sponge soaking up comfort and security wherever you could find it. By God’s grace, you landed in a good place. I know you do your best to pass on those blessings. Love you, Melissa!


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