PTSD/trauma is real. And for those of us who live with it on a daily basis, it can be challenging for some, and debilitating for others. Everyday, we have conversations with people, and those conversations may involve sights, sounds, smells, etc. that trigger some form of trauma that we have experienced in our lifetime. The question that I have for you today is, “What happens when one traumatic event triggers another traumatic event?”
For instance, we are living in a pandemic. This pandemic is trauma-inducing. It brings with it fear, anxiety, uncertainty, unpredictability, isolation, etc. Just going over these elements themselves, it is important to take note that they rank high on the list as contributing factors to PTSD.
In the month of June, we had the death of George Floyd as the deaths of Breanna Taylor and Armaud Arbery were still fresh in our minds. His death led to a series of protests, looting, and upheaval all across the nation, and then all across the world. Some areas even got so bad that the nation guards were brought in, For some people like my mom, this series of events took them straight back to the 1960s when the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. Dr. King had come to Memphis, Tennessee to march peacefully in hopes of helping the sanitation workers get fair pay and treatment.
What he didn’t plan on happening, is that his arrival in Memphis would sadly be the beginning of the end of his life. The national guards would come in to take control. People like my uncle and cousin would be beaten with billy clubs. Looting would take over the city, as well as other places in the United States.
The hardest part about navigating a traumatic event like murder in broad daylight is hoping that you’re not alone. Someone understands and empathizes with your pain. In the sixties, there wasn’t social media. Today, there is. After these deaths, people flocked to social media for expressing their feelings, whether it was outrage, disbelief, shock, or empathy, as others lied in wait to attack them.
The surprise attacks caused these expressers to be retraumatized over and over again. People who you thought felt the same way that you do were showing their true feelings, causing you to feel like a knife was being inserted in your chest. Life became even trickier to navigate. Friendships among races became trickier to navigate. Nothing felt certain. So in a time like this, what do we do in order to navigate this trauma, the trauma of these lives that have been taken.
First of all, we pray, and then pray again, humbling ourselves.
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.2 Corinthians 7: 14
- Remind ourselves that this is now 2020, and that our minds want us to think that we’re back in the 1960s.
- Ground ourselves in the spaces that you we in, with smells, sights, sounds, and pictures reflecting the current time.
- Remind ourselves that God is soverign and in control, while we pray and hope that justice will be served, knowing that God is the ultimate judge.
- Talk to our pastor, or another trusted leader for support.
- Find like-minded friends and family members that you know will offer support.
- Sign yourself up for therapy if needed.
- Limit your time on social media.
- Give yourself grace, compassion, and empathy.
- And most importantly, grieve, lament, and grieve again. There is no time constraint on grief, and seeing the loss of life is hard for any and all witnesses.
Have a blessed evening!