Here I am, sitting down thinking of the trauma that the world is facing through our global pandemic, COVID-19.
Is it ok to feel sad?
Is it ok to not feel at all?
Is it ok to feel joy at this time?
What if this feels weirdly normal to me?
I have heard and seen many emotions on our global platform of social media. Not all of these emotions are the same for everyone. Why for instance, do the feelings I am experiencing through COVID-19 seem so familiar?
Having gone through multiple traumas in my life, including multiple open heart surgeries, domestic violence, emotional and psychological abuse, and a car accident where someone died to name a few, the collective trauma that we are all facing seems eerily familiar to me. I believe this is because:
- I am very familiar with the emotional side effects of trauma
- I understand the process of grief and loss
- I understand the recovery process of trauma
Psychology Today says that when we have experienced trauma we start believing the world is extremely dangerous. Whereas we might have underestimated the danger in the world before the trauma, we might overestimate danger in the aftermath of a trauma. After all, our most recent experience in the world is it is a very threatening place. Over time our beliefs tend to shift toward the middle, recognising that the world can be quite dangerous at times and that at other times it’s relatively safe. Psychology Today
Because my shift has been towards the middle, recognising the world at times can be safe, I can still experience joy amid this crisis. Why is this? For me, even after I have healed from past traumas, my brain and body still remember the feelings and anxieties every time a new trauma arises. What that means is that when the trauma of something like COVID-19 comes along, my mind and body can be quick to remember the pain and anguish associated with past trauma. Unfortunately, our minds don’t know the difference between the traumas; it just registers them as the same due to the familiar stress responses that we have to them all. The good news is, however, that as I have spent many years on healing and recovery, a new trauma like COVID-19 reminds me that even though it is very unprecedented, it is not the end of the world. Time and chance come to us all and like me, you too will get through this. The feelings that I experience with COVID-19 are like many other times I have experienced trauma. I have felt before the shock, pain, anxiety, stress, fear, and anger many times over. I do know however that these feelings do not last forever. As I have done the hard work in healing and recovery, I can be confident knowing that the feelings I am experiencing through COVID-19 will not last forever and this gives me hope.
Many people during the pandemic have lost all hope. The Collins Dictionary states the definition of hope: If you hope that something is true, or if you hope for something, you want it to be true or to happen, and you usually believe that it is possible or likely.
I have been to that very dark place and lost everything including my own will to live. I have also miraculously come out of that place to live to see another day. Martin Luther King Jr said it so well, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.
We cannot go around thinking all is well and fine and bury our shock, anger, grief, and loss experienced through this pandemic. We must know that these feelings are normal and very valid and allow them into the light. We must accept the disappointment; however, we must also never lose hope. In the bible, Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” and Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon”.
I want to encourage you today that the trauma you are experiencing is normal and natural. I want to remind you of the times that you have come through difficulties in the past and times that you have achieved things you never thought you could. With hope, we can all do that again. We can rise up, strong and courageous, and live to see another day.