Thriving after Trauma

This past week I participated in an interesting discussion on the Sisters in Crime Guppies Yahoo group.  The thread coincidentally began while I was preparing to lead the next Yoga Sutra discussion for Whole Life Yoga’s advanced yoga teacher training.

For those of you who don’t know, Sisters in Crime is an organization that supports crime writers, like yours truly. “Guppies” stands for the “great unpublished,” of which I’m gratefully no longer a member. Many of us continue to hang out together even after we’re published because, frankly, we’re heck of a lot of fun.

This particular discussion centered around current backlogs of DNA evidence and how such backlogs might be incorporated into our future crime novels.

The confluence of these two conversations got me thinking, and when I get thinking I inevitably get myself into trouble. This time, I considered this age old question:

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Many spiritual teachings, including the Yoga Sutras, have an answer.

For their own growth.

Many of you know, either from the Guppy thread or from past conversations, that I survived something almost two decades ago that was, to put it mildly, painful. Some of you know the specifics, some of you don’t. Honestly, they don’t even matter. There isn’t a person alive over eighteen who hasn’t known trauma in one form or another. At least no one I’ve met.

The question is, when we experience said trauma, how do we deal with it?

The Sutras say that we have no true control over what happens to us or around us. The only thing we can control is how we react to it. An easy enough concept, if sometimes seemingly impossible to put into action. But the teachings go on later in Chapter 2 to hint that anything that happens to us has a purpose. The bold font and words in brackets have been added by me

Sutra 2.18:

“The seeable [our experiences, good and bad] has the characteristics of brightness, activity, and inertia. It is embodied in the elements and experienced by the senses. It exists so that the seer [you and me] may experience it and then become free.

About a year after my personal trauma, I met with a counselor. I told her that I knew there was a purpose for what had happened to me, but I hadn’t found it yet.

She looked at me, deadpan, and asked a question.

“What if there isn’t?”

My answer came from a place so deep inside of me that, until that moment, I didn’t even know it existed.

“Then I’ll have to create one. The alternative is too awful.”

That was the day I began to heal.

Who knows why bad things happen to good people? I sure as hell don’t. But can we find growth, perhaps even peace, in spite of it? The sutras say yes. I’m inclined to agree with them. I wouldn’t trade my life for any other on earth, in spite of the traumas (and like all of you, I’ve had more than one) I’ve experienced along the way.

I’ll leave you all with one final comment, also from the Sutras. This is for those of you who are now feeling cranky with me. The translation is my own.

“Individual results may vary.”

May your life’s experiences—good, bad, beautiful, and challenging—serve as a springboard for your growth.

And ultimately, may you find peace.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

12 thoughts on “Thriving after Trauma

  1. K

    I think this is a very adult and “high road” way of thinking and it is admirable. I am curious, during therapy was the purpose ever found or did you go with one you made up?

    I am not as enlightened as you. I have allowed my trauma, which occurred when I was 5, to basically shut me off from the opposite sex. For many years I believed I was not worthy of a relationship or that I was damaged goods. It is very difficult to change a person’s thoughts and their self talk. I am to the point in my life where I want to start dating but it scares the hell out of me. I don’t know if I will ever really get past my trauma. It has infected so much of my life that I sometimes feel what’s the point of trying to overcome it anymore. There is a certain comfort in known misery.

    But I know this is defeated thinking and I am trying to improve my self talk which I think it the basis of all things. If I believed the lie for over thirty years that I am nothing and worth nothing, then I need to believe the truth, that I am something and worth something. It is not easy, it is exhausting and it is easy to give up. Fighting is hard. I just wish I could see what was around the corner to let me know that what I am fighting for is worth it. I think it is. I think when people like you cross my path I am being shown and reminded that fighting is worth it. That there can be a good ending. So thank you for your post, your courage and your strength.

    Reply
    1. Whole Life Yoga Post author

      Kathy–I’m so sorry that happened to you. I don’t have a straightforward answer to your question. The day of my trauma, I thought my life was about to taken from me at the age of 29. I went into a long funk afterwards, but the one thought that kept haunting me was “If my life were to end now, is what I’ve done now enough?” I realized over time that I had been living my life based on others’ expectations of me versus what I intuitively knew was right. I changed many things as a result of that, and it guides my decisions to this day. It never came out specifically in a therapy session, though I do think the work I did there helped me find enough clarity to find it on my own.

      I don’t know if that was meant to the purpose, or if I created it. I’m not sure it matters, to be honest. The other thought I had was that I didn’t want to give any more of my life to the person who had traumatized me. In essence, I wanted to win. To win I had to heal.

      None of this was easy, and none if it had to do with yoga, honestly. I was several years past the event when I found yoga. Counseling, reflection, supportive friends, all helped. But yoga is a tool that helps many. Good luck and know that you CAN do this.

      Reply
  2. Kaye George

    What a powerful post. How wise you were to defy your counselor and tell her you needed to created a reason for what happened. I’m sure that wouldn’t occur to me. Well, it hasn’t. But I will take it to heart and try to work on that. Good healing to all of us.

    Reply
  3. Leslie Budewitz

    Tracy,

    What a loving, generous post. I’ve never quite been willing to believe — and it was trauma that brought this home — that everything has a purpose, that bad things happen to “teach us a lesson.” I just don’t want to believe in a Universe — God, the Divine, or whatever term you prefer — quite that mean! But bad things do happen, and it’s up to us to choose to live out our beliefs and values despite them, to use those bad things to dig deeper and truly blossom. And that appears to be what you have done.

    Namaste —

    Leslie

    Reply
    1. Whole Life Yoga Post author

      Thanks, Leslie. I think the key for me was that I needed to move on with my life, and I could only do that if I chose to learn and grow from what happened. That choice gave me power, and power was what helped me heal. But regardless, for anyone struggling, there is hope. There is always hope.

      Reply
  4. Nancy perkins

    It’s funny, Tracy, but I’ve never been one to ask that question. I’ve always just gotten busy dealing with it, however I was equipped to do so. You are right, trauma and tragedy are part of living, so we learn from our experiences and help others through theirs. I believe this: “Who knows, but that we are here for such a time as this.” Blessings of peace to you.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Whole Life Yoga Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *