Letters To My Freshman Self: On Dealing with Trauma
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
You can mourn the little girl you never got to know. You can be mad you grew up way too fast. You can be frustrated by how easy it is to self-regulate and shut down. But what you can't do, Yama, is refuse to heal.
I know you hate it when people call you that. It reminds you of Mom and somehow that always brings you back to your pain. Perhaps it’s for this reason you refused to go by a nickname for all these years, but you will soon learn to love it.
You set a goal to move past your pain, to not allow your trauma to run your life anymore. You want to feel empowered, to feel like you are not weighted down, for your chest to raise and lower and your breaths no longer feel labored when you think of your mother.
Yama, you have always been empowered. You have always taken flight. You have always found a way to breath. Look, you are still alive. You are living.
Don't you see - you have always been the sweetest bird, leaving her nest weeks before she thought she was ready but somehow always surviving the storms. Your wings may have not been fully developed but your willpower could defeat the strongest winds.
You grew up fast. You were the adult in your home by the time you were ten years old. You learned quickly the need to control your emotions, but your younger self didn’t know the difference between self-regulation and shutting down.
For years, you fought back tears, held deep within you the anger of generational trauma, and eventually came face to face with the ugliest monster of them all - suicidal ideation.
Let me remind you again - you are still alive. You are living.
Yama, your trauma never ran your life. You did. And just as you overcame the fear of flying, you can overcome the temptation to forget it all. As much as you’ve dreamed of it, you cannot run from what has made you into the woman you are today.
You’ve written stories in your mind of what it means to “start a new chapter” without the trauma following you like your shadow. But instead of being afraid of it, something you’ve never done before, live into who you are - an empowered woman and push through it.
Choose to heal from it. Choose to feel it. Choose to cry about it, scream about it, punch a pillow about it. Choose to write about it. But whatever you do, don’t run from it.
Stare at it.
Hold it in your hand, and admire its beauty.
Heal from it.
Your past will always be your past, but it will never be more than the sum of all the things you are. It is merely one piece to the puzzle, one stop on the journey of your long, audacious life.
Remember it is a mountain peak, one of the hardest journeys of your life and yet like all mountains standing in your way, it must be conquered and your flag placed on top as a memorial to the twisted ankles, scrapes, and cuts along the way.
See it as a love note. Mom did the best she could. To this day, my throat tightens and I am brought to the verge of tears thinking about how much it must have pained her that she knew no other way to show love.
Do you really want to forget she loved you? You fight so hard to remember this on a daily basis. Don’t erase it because she did not know how to show it well. This may be the hardest mindset shift.
Realize it is a ballad, a musical masterpiece that paints stories of how God loves even the most broken things, how He stands next to us in our weakest hour, how He holds us up when we are trying to push our own heads under water.
Again, let me remind you - you are still alive. You are living. Yama, you have always been empowered. You have always taken flight. You have always found a way to breath.
Now, keep breathing. Conquer this part of the journey called healing. Give yourself permission to feel and whatever you do, don’t forget you will get through this too.
Twenty-four year old Yama