Authenticity – Being Trauma Informing...
If you have been traumatized and deal with consequences from that, how can you show up authentically in the world? Despite the fears you have, the psychological defenses you use against these fears? How can you maintain being YOU?
Today I had two appointments. One for a business network meeting, and one for a screening at the hospital.
The business meeting had a change of rooms today, which meant we were going to be really crammed, with very little space and the probability for bumping into somebody, or being bumped into were high. It meant an all-over higher degree of closeness. This is something I have a hard time coping with, so I announced to the leaders of the meeting that I would take part in the meeting, standing in the doorway. I assured them I was perfectly fine with that, during my business presentation I also brought it up. I did not explain why, just told them this was hard, but that this solution worked fine for me, and that I was okay being me, in this situation.
This is good news. I am listening to myself, and I am checking in on what feels comfortable for me. I find a solution and go ahead and execute it. And what feed-back did I get? Some curios glances and a network colleague who came to me after the meeting and thanked me for being brave, and said that she wished other people would be as open with their needs and struggles, as I had been, commenting “we are all humans”. This felt good. It IS hard to be okay with who I am and what I need to take part (in a for me meaningful way) when being in public spaces, and even more so – speaking up about it. This business network group I gave some months ago a short seminar on how to be trauma-informed in business life. Half of the people in that room today have heard that seminar, and know me by now, as I am a regular member in this network. This helped to make me secure enough to voice my needs today. It felt good to chose how to respond to this unforeseen change of rooms, remain with myself and find a solution that fitted me and then also mention it in my presentation.
Then I went from the business meeting and straight to the screening at the hospital. It was the kind of screening where you have to be half naked. So I undressed and laid down at the examination table. The nurse said she was going to get the doctor. A minute later two big guys noisily entered the room. I had expected a female doctor (and had good reasons to do so), so first the gender of the doctors surprised me, then the fact that they were two of them. One was going to practice, I was informed (not asked about my consent). I stared at them and managed to formulate something that was supposed to be a question, but more was a statement “there are two of you”. The regular doctor said, “yes, but there are more lined up outside the door, waiting for their turn”. It was supposed to be a joke... My thinking mind went off-line... They started, talked about me as I was a piece of meat – and half-way through the examination, the practicing doctor forgot to give me instructions on what to do. The regular doctor then went around the table, so I now had one on each side, he grabbed my arm which rested on my belly and moved it over my head. What little of my mind that was still present, now went completely away.
Afterwards, like in other situations like this, I can't find how to express myself. I tried to voice my concerns to the female nurse who was still in the room, but I could not find the right words, or basically any words. The wordlessness is a stress response too.
Some hours later I found out I was angry. How come hospital staff are not more trauma-informed than that? I am contemplating writing them a letter, not sure who to send it to though. I might be able to find that out – and offer them a seminar in how to be trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive (and also just basically, see and address the human in front of them).
I was angry at them, and I was angry and disappointed at myself. Why didn't I say something right away? I had manged to take care of my needs at the business meeting. Then I decided not to judge myself, it isn't helpful, and
I know the answer to this. I was in a much more vulnerable situation at the hospital, laying down, half-naked, with two male doctors I had never met before (anticipating a female doctor), who did not talk to me, but about me, to each other, the only thing they communicated to me was the insensitive joke. I wasn't given a choice, or a voice. I felt powerless, and my ability to stay authentic disappeared, or stay, at all, actually. I wish I had been able to stand up for myself and be trauma informing... but I couldn't. I had instead to focus on dealing with being triggered during the examination, and use what new and old coping skills I have.
But I can see that when I manage to be trauma informing, it helps me to grow and thrive, and I can also be that in a way that does not necessarily bring up the word trauma, like in today's business meeting. I can just show that having somewhat odd needs and solutions, is okay.
I know I can't ask the whole world to be trauma-informed, but I do think all health care practitioners need to be, since they meet people in such vulnerable situations.
I am willing and ready to be trauma informing. And that serves two purposes. I spread information. But most importantly, I help myself find my ways to be in different situations. Informing about trauma, or as today, just inform about my needs, helps me stay authentic and it helps me to use new healthy coping strategies, instead of using old, dys-functional ones.
So I found something out today, by experiencing it. As much of me as possible needs to be allowed to take part in my everyday life situations, for me to be able to find my solutions. And finding my solutions, helps me feel safe, and okay as I am.
This is a re-post of post I wrote last year. I posted it - and took it down. Now - I feel more ready to share it.
Texts and pictures are copyright protected © Katarina Lundgren 2019