Trauma is something most experience at some point – it forms part of this life experience. I would love to hear if you are someone who has been given a free pass.
This being said, we all deal with a traumatic event and the aftermath in our own unique way. Some of us run and then never seem to stop. Another might fight and will continue to find any reason to pick another fight; or others freeze, and then stay frozen.
It’s important to acknowledge how we deal with trauma. How we react initially and how we internalise and deal with it afterwards.
Living back in South Africa for the last two yearshave made me aware of the effects of traumatic events on our daily lives and its impact on our interaction with others.
We live in a diverse society. There are those with so much money that they they don’t know how to spend it and there are others whose lives could be changed with a mere R10…
I don’t know how to explain these vast differences and how to cope with those who take without asking or feel hurt or traumatised and just keep repeating the cycle. Or how to try to be there for everyone who asks or for those in desperate need. Living in a place where the loss so many have experienced over an extended period of time is severe; where the ongoing emotional, spiritual and mental tax is not paid up; where the laws seem so misplaced and the suffering so unnecessary, is hard. I am exhausted from watching the cycle repeat itself, it is traumatic just witnessing it all first hand.
A few weeks ago I participated in an event in a part of town I really enjoy being in, a place I feel I belong. There I was hit in the face by someone, it was an accident, but I was caught up in the ripple effect of some extraordinary bad behaviour. A woman’s drink was spiked with some drug and she lost all her mental and physical control. I was running past her, stopped and tried to give a hand as she was spinning out of control, cars driving by, people running while she was falling about, getting hurt. I frightened her and in her effort to get away from me she hit me in the face. I got the fright of my life, having to stop my urge to fight back (being a fighter when facing danger or shock), I gathered her stuff and waited a moment to make sure she is helped. Then I moved away and, needless to say, ran the last kilometer at a very fast pace.
I have learnt that controlling one’s initial reaction during a traumatic event such as this can show up later if it’s not acknowledged or processed. So when the tears want to flow I try not to suppress it. Or when I feel the need to scream or vent or punch, I run and scream at the sky or the trees. I know I need to do better about finding more of an outlet though. I think most of us do.
I believe that once we all give attention to our mental and spiritual health and call on the amazing therapists, counselors, coaches and doctors out there, we might start finding it easier to be kinder and a little more tolerant with each other no matter our differences.
My character I play in 7delaan, Connie, was a victim of domestic abuse for a number of years. She fled for her life and then was brainwashed again, desperate for love and to not end up alone. In the process she almost repeated the cycle of abuse.
Connie is a compassionate, smart but very innocent persona, one who forgives easily and loves big. She recently went through a severe physical trauma, a hand grenade blew up near her and her face was badly burnt. Suddenly, her reaction was one of blaming and being hurtful as if she has lost herself.
Yet, we forget that all of us have two sides, every single one of us carry within us both the light and the dark. Of course it is choice that sets us free. At times of trauma our sense of that choice feels lost and every reaction is raw and dark. The moment Connie felt trapped and in danger her mind was lost in her past trauma. Then she is hurt and the scarring of her face becomes a real issue.
That people react different and with some severity to scars and burns is true.
During the shoot, I walked around with the scar and bandages on set and found that people could not help but react differently to me. This reaction made it easier for me to imagine how Connie must feel for whom the scaring is a reality. Being sensitive to people and being used to people always commenting on her outer looks would suddenly change for Connie.
We don’t realise how much we value or grow accustomed to what we look like. Having your face change so dramatically through trauma is like someone calling you by a different name without you choosing it and then insist on calling you by that name. It’s disconcerting. No it is not the end of the world but it takes some doing to find acceptance and love for it.
We all need help sometimes, and the bravery it takes to admit to it and to seek help is what we should celebrate. Indeed, the therapists, counselors and natural practitioners should be very busy in this land of ours.
I have learnt that its mostly how we treat each other and not what we give each other that makes the biggest difference. Don’t forget that we are all people and we are all equal.
[This is all based on my experience. I am not a medical professional or an expert in mental health, I am purely sharing my experience and opinion about what I am witnessing in this world.]