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From the desk of Coach James

The words you need to hear when you suffer from trauma, but often don’t.

It was not your typical Monday morning, although the sun was shining through some low-lying cloud. I had an 8am Zoom meeting with the CEO of a trauma therapy company based in Australia. What piqued my interest for the meeting was that the modality in question was said to fully resolve trauma within three sessions, which I thought too good to be true, having been working on my own PTSD for over ten years.

The Zoom dialog box popped up and I was eagerly waiting for it to say the host has started the meeting. Having just come off stage from giving a presentation at a trauma healing conference, I was confronted by a familiar face I had only seen in YouTube videos. Madge (not her real name) apologised for her hair being untidy, which I was unaware of, because I was so grateful to be speaking to the creator of this miraculous technique, if indeed it can resolve trauma within three sessions.

Madge began the conversation with: “Tell me about you?” Once I had finished with the pleasantries, and saying what an honour and how grateful I was to be speaking to her, I began unpacking my story. As words left my mouth, describing one traumatic event after another, and then talking about being bullied at school and how disappointing it was having to withdraw from running the London Marathon because of a brain tumour, I felt a wave of emotions run through me. Madge was taking notes, which made me feel I was being listened to.

Madge looked up from her note taking, and in an Australian accent said: “For f*ck sake darling, you must be exhausted?” It was not the unexpected F word that got me off guard, but to be met at that level where what I have experienced was recognised and felt as exhausting – which it truly is – has never being acknowledged in that regard by any type of so-called therapist, I have seen over the years.

Not many people understand how exhausting prolonged stress exposure is. I feel it can only be understood and appreciated by somebody who has experienced and lived with trauma themselves, it’s not something you can comprehend by reading a text book. The saying: you have to see it to believe it, could be adapted for trauma to: you have to live it to comprehend it.

You can do all these wonderful breathing exercises and balance your chakras, as a temporary fixes to deal with the symptoms of living in survival mode, but in my experience the sense of calm never lasts long enough that you feel at peace with yourself. Living in a perpetual state of stress and overwhelm, is draining, and you’re never firing on all cylinders.

The only way I can describe living with unresolved trauma befittingly to you is; it’s like pushing water uphill.

Peter Levine, who I hold in high esteem when it comes to trauma, as it was from his book Waking the Tiger that my foundations in understanding trauma was laid and that spurred me on to write my own book about trauma.  I was unaware I was struggling with trauma and PTSD, I just thought life was this hard by default. It turns out that life doesn’t have to be a never-ending water polo match.

Once you begin working on unresolved issues in your subconscious mind, it’s like the undercurrent that works against you starts to diminish and then you can go with the flow, rather than push against it. I’ve often heard living with trauma described as having the brakes on whilst simultaneously pushing the accelerator to the floor; eventually the engine burns out.

The first step to healing your life from trauma is having self-awareness, to understand what is going on in your body, and to know what you are experiencing is a normal response to an over-whelming life event – aka trauma.

It was learning about trauma that I was able to start locating the missing parts of me that I had lost as a child as the result of being in a car accident. For nearly three decades I had been meandering through life feeling lost and broken, unable to see any light at the end of the tunnel. When I started working with unresolved traumas, the light slowly started to appear.

The road that led me to uncovering my trauma was long and tumultuous, which is why I wrote my book on trauma from the research I did, so that others do not have to suffer as much and for as long as I did. I now work as a life coach helping people rebuild their life after trauma, so they can release the brakes holding them back, to create a life that works for them, not against them.

If you know of anybody who has been through a life-changing event, and they are finding it hard to get themselves back on track; please share this with them, and support me on my mission to support as many people as possible struggling with life when they don’t have to.

Thank you in advance.


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