What Defines You?

As I write this, we as a staff team from H4H are at the Trauma Recovery Summit in Belfast. This is a conference packed with helpful and inspirational input from world renowned ‘experts’ in the trauma field.

One thing that really struck me yesterday came from Bessel Van Der Kolk where, essentially, he was asking what it was that defined you. The language of ‘trauma survivor’ that we use at times to describe ourselves or our clients, seems to me to orient our lives around the very thing that we are trying to walk out of. I’m not suggesting for one moment that what happened to you/us is not important but one of the major issues for people dealing with issues around, trauma (and in particular, complex trauma) is that there are often emotional parts of us stuck at the time of the trauma. These parts still think we are 5 or 10 or whatever years old and that we need to be protected from whatever caused us harm – the belief is that the harmful thing is still happening. To constantly define ourself in relation to that surely reinforces that this major thing is still very much influencing life and constantly reminds us that we need to protect ourselves.

So, what is it that defines you today? Are your eyes on your new ‘hope horizon’ where you are purposefully orientating your life around that or are they on the past, creating what is sometimes an almost intolerable paradox – the deep desire to move forward whilst feeling that pull back to another time, another place? Yes, it is so very important to be able to process those feelings that your body and brain have often locked away but there is so much hope for what can be now. Your past (whatever that looks like) does not have to define you or dictate what your future looks like. Perhaps today sees the end of a chapter or even a book and holds the promise of a new page, as yet, unwritten. What does it look like to begin to write it from the perspective of your hope horizon?

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