Little Traumas

I don’t know about you but I’m still haunted by little traumas, some from as far back as childhood. When I say little traumas, what I mean are moments when I said or did something, or something was done or said to me that I’m still upset about. These things happen in everyone’s life of course, but it seems to me I’m having a harder time than most in forgetting them.

Some of these traumas are obvious. For example, when I was 10 I said something mean to a friend of mine and he said something mean back to me and I broke down crying. That’s still embarrassing, as much for my lack of fortitude as for the result of my breakdown. I keep thinking how everyone at school seeing that must have made me forever tarred as the kid who cried when so and so happened. And my personal circumstances must’ve been whispered from person to person. I guess this still bothers me because I was always so concerned with people not knowing the stresses of my personal circumstances. I wanted my life to be private and then and there I certainly blew that chance.

Other traumas I’ve experienced are less ostentatious; the time I got busted for looking at my friend’s test during an exam in high school; the time I listened as another friend got lambasted verbally by another boy (this was actually around the same time as the 10-year-old trauma I was describing) using language and, let’s say, metaphor that I had never heard in my life. To a greater and lesser degree these were moments that stay with me because I was shocked by them, truly shocked.

I lived in a very calm and pristine world as a child. Shocks happened almost not at all. I suppose they shouldn’t for kids, but my world seemed inordinately geared towards peace and quiet.

Only what am I saying?

My life was actually FILLED with trauma, but it was behind the closed doors of my house. It was from my mother and her particular psychology and depression and circumstance. That was the real trauma of my life, and, honestly, I think all the little traumas I experienced find their origins ultimately there.

I’m not the first kid to grow up with trauma and certainly I would not compare myself to children who suffered physical abuse, but I did suffer a deep jab of ground-shifting fear and uncertainty as well as things I could not hope to understand or assimilate. I was exposed to adult feelings and insecurities in a frank way that was the result of the same sort of adherence to a philosophy that could produce a survivalist cult.

What I mean by that is my mother saw what she was doing often in very pure terms. What she did and how she acted was to her right and unable to be questioned. It was based on an intellectual decision, a philosophical choice that to her seemed unassailable. Accordingly things she did that were upsetting to me were even more upsetting in that my discomfort with them brought no reaction from my mom. It’s not that she disagreed with my philosophy; she just didn’t see it.

So I guess trauma is as much about being told your world doesn’t exist as having that world’s existence shaken. In fact, the two are different versions of the same thing.

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