Secondary Trauma

Sometimes when trauma happens to those around us it affects us more than we know…

Recently a friend went through a life changing trauma and while it didn’t affect my life and had nothing to do with me it had me looking at my own life thinking something was wrong or missing.

I decided to discuss it with my therapist. Why was I feeling guilty? Why did her tragedy affect me? Why am I making this about myself, surely I should be thinking more about her and her loss than my own but I couldn’t help but feel guilty.

Guilty for being alive when I have made so many mistakes in my life. Guilty for not deserving my second chance after all the turmoil my actions have caused to those around me.

“Secondary trauma” she called it. When trauma happens all around us those of us who have lived with deep seeded trauma can be affected greatly even by something we read in a magazine or see on TV, according to my therapist. The trauma around us brings up emotions and feelings we have not faced from our own trauma and it forces us to look it right in the face (my words).

Over the past week I have had muscle spasms, brain fog, insomnia and debilitating headaches all due to the deep seeded issues I had been harboring so I decided to do something about it.

I reached out to those who I felt had hurt me and those whom I hurt with my actions in the past who I have not had any (or minimum) contact with in the past almost 8 months.

Family who they themselves have had secondary trauma caused by my suicide attempt whom I had been harboring some resentment and hurt from due to them making my trauma about them and causing more turmoil to me because of their words and actions…

It is time to forgive. It is time to let go. It is time to stop trying to point the finger and place blame on anyone. Everyone has their own issues, their own trauma. Everyone is dealing with their own demons. What has happened in the past doesn’t matter. Your pain is not my responsibility to heal any more than my pain is your responsibility. We all have to take accountability for our own actions. We all have to take accountability for our own healing. We all have to take accountability for our own hurt and know that when people lash out at us it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with their own inability to conquer their demons.

We need to stop judging our own process. I felt guilty because I was making it about myself. That voice saying “you are making this all about you, you are a drama queen and so self centered” was not my voice. It was the voice of those who have been hypercritical and judgmental toward me and that thought process is not productive. My mind and body was telling me something, telling me I needed to face something.

I could apologize a million times for the things that I have done and you will not hear it until you face your own secondary trauma.

I am sorry for what I have put everyone through. I know that it wasn’t my fault. I know that my mind was not my own at that point in time. I know that I have had poor coping skills and lacked the ability to see past my own hurt to understand that what others have done and said to me had nothing to do with me. I know that I lashed out and hurt other people due to those poor coping skills. I know this will not be enough for you. I am still sorry for the pain I inflicted. I am still sorry for taking this long to mature. I am still sorry for everything.

That doesn’t mean I deserve to be beaten down and constantly pushed to my knees to beg for forgiveness that will never come. That could not possibly be given because until those who are hurting heal themselves they can not give forgiveness because the anger, bitterness and blame is all they have to hold on to in order to try and make sense of it all….

It doesn’t make sense. It will never make sense. Hurt people hurt people. It doesn’t matter. It never did.

I can’t force healing. I can’t force someone who is not ready to move forward to move forward with me. All I can do is stand here in all of my broken ugliness and say I am sorry and I am here when you are ready to stop living in the past and reopening the wounds that are festering with the bitterness, anger and blame you hold onto. I hope someday you can let it go and we can begin to move forward together. I pray that the day you are ready to move forward is not a day too late because tomorrow is never promised. 🧡

2 thoughts on “Secondary Trauma

  1. I love this, Jessie. I had very similar feelings after this same tragedy. I even felt bad for feeling somewhat traumatized by what happened to our friend, when it didn’t even happen to me! Just like how you felt.

    I just learned what all those feelings were. Jessie taught me. I think I needed to hear everything you said about being accountable for our own healing. I have just started to do this. I am in the toddler stage at this point (and that is being generous).

    I’ve had quite a bit of guilt related to my own recent mistakes and it’s nice to hear that it’s not my job to heal others from the secondary trauma that I caused either. Even though I am still really sorry.

    Thanks for putting this all into words and sharing. I was just having a shit night. But it helped so much to read this. We never know what tomorrow hold, very true. Love you, Jess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love you girl!! You got this, keep your village close and keep pushing forward! Yesterday is in the past, leave it there!! You are making progress and that’s all that matters!!! Sounds cliche but F.A.I.L stands for first attempt in learning and the only true failure is quitting ❤️ you got this!


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