“Trauma is an incident that causes physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological harm.”

When I was about six years old, one day I walked home alone and decided to take a shortcut. Soon as I turned a corner a large male German shepherd came rushing toward me. It growled and then started barking. I froze and glanced around for a stick or something to protect myself. With the slightest movement I made, the dog came closer and its bark sounded more vicious. I begin to cry as I looked at its sharp vampire fangs that I feared would rip into me any moment. Within seconds a man came out a gate screaming at the dog to come to him. He grab the dog’s collar and pulled him into the yard. I was too scared to move, and my heartbeat was still racing. All of this happened in less than a minute, but the trauma from the event still rises in me to the point I flinch every time I see a large dog, especially a German shepherd.

For the past couple of months, I have been reading and studying books on trauma. I am learning that everyone has had or will have some form of trauma in their lifetime. In reading, I’m learning that these incidents we encounter, especially as children have a very strong impact on how we live and function in our lives. I now have a sincere empathy, especially when I immediately recognize it in others. Such as when I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. A shirtless middle-aged man was at a sidewalk intersection walking in circles around and around. It reminded me of a dog chasing its tail. Then there was an older man in a store acting like he was on a military mission. Softly talking to some unseen person. He was getting agitated and left the store, but not before he knocked down a stacked of boxes and hurried the unseen person to leave with him. In another city, I observed a male prostitute dressed as a woman.

But, there are less obvious forms of trauma that can be experienced through #shared interrelated traumatic events. Especially in relationships where one of the individuals has been incarcerated and/or has a substance use disorder. Let’s remember trauma causes “harm”. That harm can be direct or indirect. Harm is damage or injury that is caused by a person or event.

As I mentioned I suffer from trauma and I didn’t have a clue that I did. I can admit this now because I have learned that part of the healing process with trauma is giving the PAIN a name and more importantly breaking the SILENCE.

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To give more light to this I will use my personal experience as it directly tires into our BCMM PICSTM workshops. In our workshops, we bring awareness about the five syndromes suffered by returning citizens, individuals who have lived in institutions, and recovery centers, and their loved ones and families.

My life partner returned to society after 25 years. Neither of us had any knowledge of or about post-incarceration syndromes. We, especially I, thought he was adjusting to life great. He had within a few months completed trade school and was licensed, enrolled in college, obtained a job paying him far above minimum wages, and was involved in the community. What I didn’t know was he was struggling with PTSD, Sensory deprivation, Antisocial, and Institutionalized issues that led to all kinds of problems within our relationship. His PICS issues caused me trauma because of the ways I was responding to these unknown syndromes, how to best address them, and how to keep healthy. I suffered from abandonment, trust, and anxiety issues that not only were emotional, psychological, but physical also. It got to where I had to ball up to relieve the knots of pain in my abdomen. The effects of these traumatic events resurface whenever any similar situation presents itself. The nervousness and anxiety instantly arise. My way of coping is to acknowledge what I’m feeling. I do some stress relief movements, and then question whether it is real or shadows of the past. Even more importantly I have learned to make my well-being a priority. We teach these skills to loved ones and families through our BCMM PICSTM workshops.

For me to heal from my trauma and be there for him whiles he heals I have to enjoy the things that make me- me. I have to live in the moment. I have to have some space to breathe so that I’m not overcome by his issues, but also where he doesn’t feel abandoned. In other words, having balance in my life and with him.

To be clear trauma causes emotional, physical, spiritual, or psychological HARM! What harm does it cause when a man or woman beats a spouse or child? What harm does it cause when a child or adult is raped or molested? What harm does it cause when a child/person is constantly put down and told they aren’t going to be shit? What harm does it cause when a person is put into isolation? These traumatic events can lead to mental health issues such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], depression, anxiety, alcohol, and drug use, and issues with relationships and work.

Click here to find #BCMM PICS upcoming workshops.