One of the best decisions I made in my life was agreeing to admit myself to a trauma treatment program. One of the most difficult decisions I made in my life was to disclose, publicly, that I am a trauma survivor. I survived multiple traumatic events. Therefore, my diagnosis is Complex Developmental Trauma.
I learned in treatment that my trauma started when I was adopted, with my twin sister, at 8 months old. According to the timeline I created during treatment, I had some pretty good years, but Trauma raised its ugly head, and it did so at those points in my life when I was convinced that everything was going well.
So, last week I decided that the one thing that was holding me back from connecting with other trauma survivors was my attempt to write under a “pen name.” It kept me separate from the cause I believed in.
Out of the blue, I felt compelled to come clean, post on my Facebook page that I was a trauma survivor, and basically advertise it to the world.
I wish I could sing my own praises, but I have to credit Prince William and Prince Harry for launching their own initiative on Mental Health. Hell…if the Royals can do it, so can I!
The night I “came clean” on my public Facebook page my phone alerts kept me awake all night. Friends, family and complete strangers were signing up for my blog. Is this not the epitome of success? I now have an email list. I still have a lot to learn about how to monetize it, but I have already met my objective: be a voice for trauma survivors.
I wrote down my “What’s Bugging Me” list last night and set out to conquer Monday by updating my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages. However, I got sidelined by a notification on my LinkedIn page. Thirty-four people had looked at my page. I was pretty sure that these people were friends and family that I had connected with, and most of them were, but there was this one name that popped out at me. Not just an anonymous look, but the CEO of the company I left and had filed a Workmen’s Comp. suit against.
Why was this person looking at my profile? Were they confirming for themselves that I had failed? Were they checking to make sure I had followed all the conditions of the non-disclosure clause or were they just curious about the person I had become and was willing to disclose to the public?
I wish I could tell you that I immediately stood up in the “Fearless Girl” stance, but I did the opposite. I doubted myself, updated my LinkedIn profile, and called my besties.
REALLY? This was a person that took pride in casually walking into a company meeting and asking if they had fired me yet? And my first thought was to defend myself? Why did I feel like I needed this person to approve of me when it was my choice to leave the company?
After slamming my mind with a million questions, I took a break and followed the steps I had set up for myself in treatment to release myself from the bonds of my trauma: widen your view, examine the evidence, accept your condition.
When I was a crisis intervention counselor I was taught to examine the body language of a person in crisis. One of the first indicators of a person in a crisis is dilated pupils. When you are in crisis, you will automatically begin to hyper-focus on the person, or thing, that is threatening you.
The best way to override your trauma response is to get to a space where you can see wide open spaces. For me, the fastest way to do this is to go outside and look at the sky. When you look at the skyline you may see towering buildings, beautiful mountain ranges, vast prairies or expansive oceans. No matter what you see it will always force your pupils to dilate, and in response, your central nervous system will slow down.
After an hour or so of soaking up the nature around me, I began to laugh. What did this person find in my LinkedIn profile? They found the same person I had been when I worked for them: fiercely loyal, hard-working, willing to take risks, and just all around goofy.
The one thing they did not find was a woman who spent an enormous amount of energy trying to fit in and not willing to expose my innate fear of being found out.
That’s just not true anymore! I have declared my independence and I hope that verifies everything that this CEO thought of me.
I realize that this may not be the perfect response for everyone that is out there searching for a new job, or career. I understand that sometimes the best defense is an offense.
If you are not in a place where you feel comfortable enough to publicly admit your struggles, start with admitting your personality traits. Trauma survivors have amazing traits that make them the perfect employee. We do not settle for anything that is less than perfect, our work ethic is stellar, and we will defend our company to the end. However, if the company you work for is willing to take advantage of these powerful traits, it’s time to move on.