Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Hi Faith!

Faith

Good morning. How are you?

Lois                         

Well, it is really great to be back together.

Faith                    

I would totally agree.

Lois                        

You know, I’ve had time to practice some of the silent methodologies that we kind of brought up to the forefront in last week’s podcast and I have just been really surprised how silence is impacting me and I’m taking myself away from a busy dinner or something that’s happening in the house and going outside and just sitting alone, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, it’s just given me a new charge that I never imagined.

Faith                     

That’s a great word. It does charge you, recharge you and it makes life more interesting because you see it from a different perspective.

Lois                       

So that’s been a lot of fun. By the way, if you’re enjoying our podcasts, those of you who are listening right now, we really hope that you’ll share this with somebody and rate our podcast on the different platforms because we are in so many platforms. We don’t need to list them all. We’re just really excited every week something new is popping up, Faith. And we’re also offering many versions of all of our podcasts in the form of a video cast and we’re doing between five and seven minutes on the exact podcast you’re going to hear today. We’re doing it on video. You can find it on YouTube, you can find it on our website and you can find it on all of our social media platforms as well. And you can listen and watch how we kind of put this together in an abbreviated fashion if you’d like.

Faith                     

Those nuggets are things you can carry with you. So if you listen to the podcast, it’s really worth listening and watching the video cast because you take those key nuggets with you throughout the day.

Lois                       

And we also have our website, by the way, more to life with faith and lowest.com if you want a newsletter so you can keep up to date on absolutely everything we’re doing, please go and sign up. We will only send you one email a week. We promise. Today, we’re going to unpack a transition that hits us on a lot of levels. Episode 72 Transition: The Impact of Trauma.

Faith                   

Oh, and this is so important because a lot of us don’t even realize that we carry trauma because we think, oh, that’s for some big, huge event, but it doesn’t always necessarily have to be the case. Some of the smaller things in life can be very traumatic and leave us carrying that for a very long time in life.

Lois                       

Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience and so just like faith said, it can hit you on any level, but it is an emotional response to a huge amount of stress that really exceeds your ability to cope or manage the emotions that are part of that event. And there are all sorts of things that can do this. It can be an accident, it could be rape, it could be abuse, it could be war, it could be a natural disaster.

Faith                    

That’s absolutely true and that can be something less traumatic in a sense. For instance, I don’t have a pet because it was so traumatic for me to lose them and it was so painful. One day I went, I don’t have to do this. And that’s one of the reasons I don’t have a dog. I love dogs, but I don’t have one now because the pain was so great every time I lost them.

Lois                      

And this is why she comes over so often because we have enough dogs that you can deal with them.

Faith                   

I’m their grandma!

Lois                      

And if they’re going to die- well Lois, that’s your problem. So, so as we dive into trauma, we know this is a difficult topic and maybe there’s something that comes to top of mind for you. And if you would like to express that to us or share anything that comes up for you, we would really want to hear from you and we will respond to you back. So Faith, how has trauma impacted your life?

Faith                   

Oh my goodness. I am a survivor of trauma as a child and various things that happened to me throughout my childhood. So the first real clue that there was trauma in my life was as I got a little bit older and I began to have some panic attacks and I began to have nightmares, which actually were night terrors, which is very different. And there would be heart palpitations, sweaty palms, anxiety, fear of not being able to do something that I had been doing all along. So these can be some of the signs and evidence that there’s trauma. And that was when I sought out help to begin to go, where is this coming from? Because it wasn’t clear yet where it was coming from. The pieces to the puzzle didn’t come together yet. So I think for trauma is like you have this event or events happen in your life and it’s like taking a million piece puzzle and throwing it up into the air and all the pieces come down and they’re everywhere. And so some of what you have to find is how do we begin to gather them? How do we gather these pieces and start putting it together so we can begin to see the full picture of what happened? So that it can heal.

Lois                        

And as we mentioned, trauma takes all different forms. And for me, trauma has to do with war. When I was a child, I lived in Beirut, Lebanon, and when the 60 war broke out, I didn’t know as a child exactly what was going on. I followed what my parents told me to do and when our family ended up leaving. But I will never forget the explosions, the bombings, hiding under the bed, and this is going to sound odd, but when you’re seven and eight years old, you kind of think this is fun. Oh this is like, you know, you don’t know that something horrific is happening right outside your door. At least I didn’t. And the way my parents protected me. Well, fast forward to the 1990s when I ended up covering the war in Bosnia as a reporter in 1996 and I was around homes that had been leveled and I was seeing the aftermath. We drove through areas that were called sniper alley in different parts of Bosnia and Croatia and Serbia. And at the end of all that, I had a breakdown on the air as a reporter after witnessing home after home, after home being destroyed. And I never realized how much was still inside of me. And by breakdown, I mean I was sharing the story and I was overwhelmed emotionally and later I did have people reach out when I was working at KCBS radio and say, you know, do you need some PTSD therapy or counseling through this? Because clearly something hit a nerve there. And I attributed it in the moment to the fact that I was witnessing destruction and having stories of people. But in truth it went far greater than that. So there are moments in your life that you don’t even realize have impacted you like that – as an eight year old that I didn’t know. But then in my forties when this happens, I realized, oh, that actually did make a big difference in my life.

Faith                    

It is far reaching. A current day. Trauma can reach back into an unresolved trauma of your past.

Lois                      

And you know, emotional trauma is a normal response. So it was normal for me to cry like that. But it does move into PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder when you get stuck and when you can’t make sense of it and that’s where we want to start with you today as we move through because in More to Life with Faith and Lois, our goal is to help you see that there’s recovery on all sorts of fronts. As you face a transition that impacts your life.

Faith                    

Yes, there’s absolutely hope for trauma. That is most of my practice is working with trauma survivors, people who have been abused or hurt or have faced a trauma. My husband works with them as well as a psychologist. And to see the beautiful transition of where they’ve been, where they were having some of these symptoms and all the things that they’ve reacted to resolve themselves, and then to see them step into the fullness of the life that they were meant to live. So if you are listening and you have had trauma in your life, please know there is hope. You can get through this. This is not permanent. There is so much help out there.

Lois                      

And we’re using a lot of resources including Faith and David, and there’s also a website called helpguide.org and I just want to lead you in that direction because it has this brilliant article on coping with emotional and psychological trauma. So if you need kind of some bullet points to just look at, we would love to send you in that direction, but there are a number of ways that you can begin this process of healing and recovery and trauma. And one of them involves movement.

Faith                 

Yes, it does. These are going to be just some little keys that can help you deal with the impact of the symptoms that you’re feeling. This is not going to cure you and please, please seek out help. I can’t emphasize that enough. Walk this with someone. Do not walk it alone. You need some guidance. You need help to help you understand what’s happening to you. But the get moving thing is to help you reconnect to your body. Because when there’s been trauma, you move into survival mode and you actually literally disengage from your body, from your senses because it’s a way to make it. So it’s a a shock reaction. You know, if you’re skiing down a slope and there’s a tree, suddenly you kind of forget. And then when you wake up and you’ve hit the tree, you say boy, the last thing I remember was skiing down and seeing the tree. Well, your body has already shut down to prepare to hit that tree. And that’s what happens in a traumatic event. Your brain begins to protect you in it and through it and even before you actually encounter it. So starting with even doing the things you love to do that helps you connect -whether it’s a walk, whether it’s swimming, whether it’s running, boxing, something that reconnects you to your body is a huge way of reconnecting to yourself.

Lois                       

Because it actually disturbs your nervous system in a healthy way because what happens a lot is our nervous system shuts down. And so when you start doing this activity again and involving your arms and your legs. Every exercise you just mentioned, whether it’s walking, swimming, boxing, running, you know, when you’re using all of these elements, if you want to bicycle, if you want to do things that only involve one, that’s fine. But if you can use as many limbs as possible and safe for you, that’s where you get that full connection with the body. Once again.

Faith                

Absolutely. And the very beginning when I was working on my trauma, I couldn’t do much of anything. But when I would get in the car, I would roll down my windows. I didn’t care what the temperature was and I would let the air just hit me. So if it was hot, it would hit my face. If it was cold, it would hit my face. It was enough to be a stimulant to the body to reconnect. So start where you can.

Lois                        

That’s right. So that’s one of the first steps you can do. The next is to connect. So we’ve just talked about connecting to your body, but also connecting with another person or with people. And Faith mentioned, please seek help. There’s a reason for this. Trauma makes us isolated. Yes, and we want to withdraw and get away and we will not heal in that withdrawn position.

Faith                  

You cannot. We think we can. We think we’re doing the right thing. It just is not going to work and I’m going to repeat something that I have said before on other podcasts that isolation is an emotional killer. If you isolate it begins to absolutely just dissolves your soul at a certain level because you just go further and further away, which can lead to chronic depression. So no, you need to engage so make sure it’s with friends, a trusted friend, a trusted family member, someone that you can talk to. One little quick little thing that when I was doing my recovery, I made sure I talked to five people after every therapy session. When I would break through my therapist on something, I would make sure that I talked to my group members. I would make sure I talked to a family member and to another friend. I made sure I said whatever it was I talked about five times before the next session.

Lois                       

Because that really makes it settle in and become real when we share this process of growth that we’re having.

Faith                

And we’re desensitizing. Yes, that’s the other piece. The more you talk about it, the more you’re going to desensitize from all the impact that trauma that’s in your body.

Lois                     

And when you connect with people, if you don’t want to share and you just need to be around people, that’s good too. Sometimes it’s a great thing to just call up someone, and say, I need to go on a hike or I want to do something. Go observe something that you don’t have to discuss the trauma, but it’s engaging with someone else so that you’re not left to your own self alone, withdrawn, where you can get darker and darker and darker in that moment. So the reason we say connect isn’t like go find friends, but check in with an older friend that you’ve had for years or an old friend. You know, someone that you’ve known and do something that may have nothing to do with your trauma. You’ll be surprised at what movement you can get from this.

Faith                    

It’s also a good sign that when you step in and go and do something, you know you don’t want to go to the wedding that you’ve been invited to go because life continues. And we think that when we’re going through the pain of trauma, that life has stopped. It’s very similar to grief and there’s times where you do have to really care and nurture yourself in what you’re experiencing. But if you can even step in even for a brief time and have a boundary of, I need to leave now, that’s fine. But you’ve stepped into some life.

Lois                       

So we urge connection, whether it’s with others and whether it’s with your body and movement, and also to calm yourself because there is a way that we, in our own brains can change our nervous system if we take some of these steps. We talked about silence last week and that’s one of the beautiful ways to go through it. So while we say don’t be alone, we don’t mean you can’t be silent. Please don’t. Don’t see that. But breathe. That’s one of the first things you can do is breathe.

Faith                   

And the second thing is you also need water. Air and water are two things that keep you going and so use them. When you’re feeling the trauma, we tend to breathe at a very, very shallow rate. We are not filling our lungs up and what happens is your brain begins to shut down as well. So you what you want to do with those deep breaths, you’re getting oxygen to the brain and then the brain can see it from a different perspective. Water is another grounding factor. If you feel like you’ve gotten triggered or you feel overwhelmed, throw water in your face, sprinkle it, get water on your wrist, on the back of your neck, on your forehead, drink water and it helps to ground you. And then one other piece is to look in a mirror at that point and speak what is true. You can say, I just got triggered or I’m really having a hard time right now. I’m really feeling hopeless right now, but I can see myself and that’s real and it’s going to be okay.

Lois                        

You know, the more you do these things, the more you bring some sense of control back into your life. Because what happens with trauma is that we feel that we are completely out of control and that it will never change. And so these minor things which we’re talking about can become really significant. Yes. And another thing you can do in addition to looking into the mirror is, you know, journaling. When you write and you express and you get it out of your system, it’s one of the most healing things I’ve experienced when I’m going through a difficult time or if trauma has faced me. I just finished a book called Letters to Barbara. It’s by Paul Chaderjian. And I can’t believe what he did in this book that relates to trauma. So he describes it’s a novel, but he describes the life of a boy who from the age of nine through adulthood, started at age nine cause it was during the civil war in Lebanon. He was facing a lot of trauma. And so he wasn’t sure how to express himself. And he decided to write letters to none other than Barbara Streisand. Yes, it would be the Barbara Streisand, you know, funny girl and whatever was in his purview at that time and he was living in Beirut and he decides to start writing these letters, never sent them. But starting from the age of nine all the way through adulthood, Paul Chaderjian and in this book with his narrator lets us read these letters that this young boy and teenager and adult man wrote and they were expressing the fear. You might not even know where Lebanon is, he says in one of the letters to Barbra Streisand. And then describes what he was hearing, describes the fear, describes the hiding, describes the relationship with his family that he went through and what he saw that changed for him when he moved. It’s just a beautifully written book, but it’s how you can express to somebody you don’t even know and didn’t even send out. And one of the things he says at the very end was that he found a savior of sorts to release the trauma he faced. I just think that is so beautiful. I’ve never thought of writing to somebody. I don’t know. But if that’s what you need to do, do it. Yes.

Faith                 

Yes, absolutely. That’s beautiful. He found his way. He found something that worked for him, that took him out of the traumatic event that was happening right then and transported him to hope. And that’s what you do when you express this, you, you’re getting all the junk out and whether it’s through writing or painting. I used every medium possible. I used paints, I used crayons, I used journaling. I used clay. I used silly putty. I did all kinds of things, but it was using my hands and it was like, you’re releasing it. You’re getting out of you and transporting it to something else and it then it begins to make more sense. You get more freedom. I love that, what he did.

Lois                       

Isn’t that great. So that the book, by the way, is Letters to Barbara, if you want to check it out on Amazon. Scan yourself regularly. Faith has brought this an element that I have in my life now regularly when I find something off. We’re specifically resonating with trauma at this point, but it works here too. If you’re off and you know it has something to do with trauma, ask yourself how you’re doing. Have you gotten enough sleep the night before? Have you eaten? Is there something emotionally that that’s tugging at you that is giving you this reason for an outburst that has nothing to do with the fact that the cat just threw up on your floor? I mean just whatever it might be. That’s not your moment, but go back and scan yourself. Faith, I can’t get over how much that makes a difference in my life because it forces me to pause and to check in with myself before I react to something.

Faith                   

Because most often there’s a missing piece and it has to do with that. You get enough sleep, are you hungry? Are you tired? Did something happen that you are overlooking? You have to know what’s happening and where did this come from and we are so quick to just keep moving on, moving on. We need to pause and find out, and especially when there’s been trauma in your life, is to find out how am I caring for myself and how am I looking at the details of my life that I’m living now? Because we get pulled back into how it was. The one thing, too, that I want to add is that so oftentimes when we face trauma and we don’t get over it, we blame ourselves. This is a process and there’s no time for how long this process will take. For some, you can move through it quickly depending on what the traumatic event was. The other thing is is that you can actually resolve trauma and then years down the road something new happens and there’s another layer to the trauma. Don’t get frustrated, don’t be upset with yourself. There’s so much evidence, so much research that’s being done on the impact of trauma and how we actually can bond to the traumatic event or to the person who is involved in the traumatic event and that’s all neurological. And so much of our trauma is braced in the brain and that’s really where it comes from. And it takes time to fully resolve it. Don’t beat up on yourself, be patient, be loving, be kind.

Lois                      

And that goes also if you have a loved one or a partner or a spouse that is dealing with trauma. Remember that patience, because the recovery period is all over the map, we don’t know how long each person will take. So offer support where you can and then pull back. Be available if they want to talk and whatever you do, don’t take these trauma symptoms personally. And that’s hard when we see someone going through because we want to fix, we want to help. And those things just simply don’t work . Be patient. It’s one of the biggest things. It takes time.

Faith                  

And there’s a lot of resources. Please reach out to them. Reach out to professionals who know how to deal with this. Reach out to some really good, excellent writing on trauma. There’s always help in recovery.

Lois                       

Recovery it is so real. It’s a process, and as you just mentioned, it takes time.

Faith                  

We want you to know that it is possible to heal from an emotional and psychological trauma and feel safe again.

Lois                       

When you engage in the process of recovery, you will get stronger.

Faith                

Please share this podcast with someone who’s faced or is facing trauma in their lives.

Lois                     

And join us next week for Transition: the Impact of Procrastination.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.