The Trauma of Fear

Memorial to Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Poland

I went through a difficult period in my late thirties. My husband was terminally ill, we were about to lose our home as he had been unable to work, and my kids and I were pretty much basket cases. As hard as it was, we walked through it. Losing my husband, relocating to the other side of the country, and struggling to get back on our feet took the next decade. It’s a time I don’t remember much about other than everything changed.

Years later, and a bit of therapy later, I realized I had spent that decade and the next one waiting for the next shoe to drop. Waiting for the next bad thing to happen. In so many ways, usually ones we often don’t see or understand, trauma conditions us to alter our expectations. It teaches us to live in silent fear, fear that the bad things will repeat over and over, fear that we will never get back to a place of joy.

What we don’t realize when trauma holds us in its grip, is that joy isn’t a place. It’s something that lives inside us. If we nurture it, if we understand that we’ve been hurt and we need to heal, joy is waiting inside us to do just that. That’s its purpose.

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