Embracing the Trauma

Every Friday morning at 8:15 am I have my weekly therapy sessions. At 8:00 am, I am cursing myself for being such an idiot to book such early appointments and thinking to myself, why do I need this anyway? It’s been over six months of consistent weekly sessions.

And yet after every session, I’m so thankful that I did it.

In my most recent call, we were speaking about my fear of taking the next step in my career and going back to school for my masters. I was asking her, why is it so hard for me to think about my future, why can’t I be like all my other friends my age who already are in school pursuing their dream careers or married with kids, why do I feel like I’m always five steps behind?

As “young” adults, bordering on what feels like childhood and adulthood, we are faced with many life decisions. Changing careers, figuring out our religious beliefs, strengthening and losing friendships as you realize who you really value in life and what kind of people you want to be around. Making decisions during this time like which apartment to rent or where to save your money, whether to invest it, or save it for that future downfall, or use it to get your masters, these are are all difficult major life decisions that we are faced with in this time period. Or rather, every time period.

Now, if you throw in some trauma – for me specifically this can look like losing two parents in two years, witnessing their slow deaths from cancer and covid and sickness, losing my home, losing sentimental possessions, fighting with siblings, taking over estate matters, dealing with financial anxiety and burdens – though time passes, and I feel like I am processing it all, all of this trauma still stays in my body. Every trauma that happens to you stays in your body.

I don’t think about this much until sometimes I’ll be working or just busying myself with a task and I’ll realize suddenly that I’ve been holding my shoulders really high and was holding in my breath – I realize that I’m constantly holding in my breath, every second of every day.

The trauma lives in my body, no matter how far I think I’ve come or gone away from it. It’s there. And in these moments when I am so stuck and can’t make decisions and panic and wonder why, why is this happening, why cant I take that next step, its my body telling me to stop and listen – my trauma and pain lives here. I cant do it all at once. It’s a process, and one that no matter how hard I try, I can’t rush.

This lesson felt very relevant to me Erev Sukkos. When we sit in the sukkah, we are embracing our vulnerability and dependency on God. We are embracing the fact that nothing is up to us, no matter how hard we plan, how hard we try to fight and make sure we are safe from everything in this world, no matter how many doctors you see, how much money you invest, how many degrees you have – it doesn’t matter. Everything in our lives is from and depends on God. This is the first realization that can come from traumatic experiences. In one instant, in one blink of an eye, you lose the person you love. You lose the house you grew up in. You lose all that money you invested. When you least expect it, your entire world will come crashing down on you. And it will live inside you until it settles deeply into your bones and becomes one with who you are. So, what can you do?

I learnt that session that we can think of our time, our major life decisions, our traumas, our goals, everything we have to decide – as seasons. What season are you in?

Was I in the season of my career, in this moment? Or was I in the season of religion, of god, of learning more about myself and my relationships? By embracing the Sukkah, through embracing that dependence that we have on god, embracing that we don’t actually have control over everything in life, we can focus on this one season. This one thing to focus on, and to leave the rest up to God.

What will you choose this season to be?

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