It’s time to take a trip to the museum to see some contemporary paintings. You and a group of four friends are walking through the gallery and are struck by a photo with vivid colors and an array of shapes. If you’ve ever seen an abstract painting, you know that five people can have five different opinions about what you are witnessing. One person may see a Pinocchio nose while another can see angels fluttering over a pizza! It’s all about perception. What is perception? It is a way of regarding or interpreting something, a mental impression. It is very possible that Pinocchio is on that canvas and the pizza has pepperoni on it. That is because when something is real to you, IT IS REAL.
Let’s talk about trauma. It comes in many forms, much like the abstract painting. It may come in the form of verbal abuse from a partner, who tells you that you are fat and nobody will want you. Or sexual harassment from your boss at work that makes your 9 to 5 unbearable. Perception plays a role in these situations as well. Your partner may believe that he is encouraging you to lose weight because he loves you. And your boss may believe he is simply complimenting you on your attractive outfit. What you need to know is that regardless of what other people try to tell you, if it’s real to you, IT IS REAL.
Trauma is one of those issues that beg for your attention. Even if you choose to believe that the “motivating” talks are to help you become healthy, your body will let you know that something just doesn’t feel right about what you are being told. And maybe you do dress like you just stepped off the runway in New York. But the way your boss looks at you with perverse eyes makes your skin crawl. Never allow yourself to be told that what hurts is to be ignored. Suppressing this pain can lead to depression, hopelessness and at times suicidal thoughts. If you run into deaf ears that do not believe what you are experiencing, seek new ears or a therapist to help you process the pain.
When life takes its toll and traumatizes you, make a commitment to yourself to take care of you. What other people resolve in themselves when it comes to how you should feel is irrelevant. Practice self care by giving yourself permission to love you. You do not need to decipher whether it’s a nose or angels. It’s your life. It’s your body responding to the pain. It’s your story. And yes, IT IS REAL.