We are wonderfully made and intricately designed. Really. Consider the world we live in and the hurts we experience. Now consider the incredible inner workings of the brain that promote our survival and keep us not only alive but functioning.
An estimated 70% of adults report experiencing at least one potentially traumatic event in their lifetime. According to Levine and Kline in their book Trauma Proofing Your Kids (2008), trauma is a fact of life, but so is resilience. We are innately wired with a sophisticated stress response system that kicks in under threat to improve our chances of survival. In fact, when our sympathetic nervous system is engaged an estimated 27 different physiological functions shift to improve not only chances of survival but also improve our chances of resilience, which is in the simplest of descriptions the ability to “bounce back” (Levine and Kline).
I am honored to be a part of the incredible journey of several individuals who have survived difficult things. I constantly find myself asking, “how do they do it?”. But I find that I ask this so often that maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising. God knew what he was doing. We adapt and we survive.
Now, this is not to say that we don’t sometimes get stuck. When it comes to trauma, and especially complex trauma, engaging in survival mode for a prolonged period of time taxes our systems and causes us to function in everyday life as if threat is just around the corner. Pro-longed engagement of the stress response system affects our physiological functioning (heartrate, breathing, immune functions, digestion, pain response, etc). In addition, there are emotional tolls such as negative perception of self, unhealthy boundaries, increased experience of negative emotions, and less tolerance for physical and emotional distress. This is where safety and risk collide to get us unstuck (but that is another discussion). For now, I just want to appreciate with wonder and awe how incredible we really are. How incredible you really are. Despite your experience you are alive and breathing. Maybe life is not what you hoped, and it is okay to grieve what you lost or perhaps grieve what you never received in the first place. But your story is not over. You made it this far and that alone is reason to celebrate your awesomeness. Take care of you!