Being traumatized is our reaction to an event or series of events. People will react to the same experiences differently. I had the opportunity to debrief an individual after she arrived back in the United States from traveling overseas. During her travels, she and two other individuals went to a coffee shop. A truck crashed through where they were sitting and gunshots erupted. She ran to safety with the others. In checking to make sure they were each okay, one individual found a bullet hole in his pant leg! While we were debriefing, it was clear that the woman was struggling greatly from the emotional trauma. In fact, through conversations it was evident that she was more deeply impacted than the individual who had the bullet go through his pant leg. This does not mean she was weaker than him or processing the event wrong. We just all respond to situations differently depending on timing and other things going on in our lives.
Each day, parents of children impacted by special needs experience so much just through the course of taking care of their children. Yes, there is a lot of good but there is a lot that is really, really hard. We are there with our children as they struggle. We are with them through the countless doctor appointments and possible surgeries. We are with them through the sleepless nights and are agonizing about what to do next. It tears us a part to see them hurting and not know what to do. As my wife Sarah tells people, it wasn’t that she was just trying to get through the day. She was trying to get through that minute. Is it any wonder that we as parents can experience trauma or secondary trauma?
How about you? How are you coping? Mobile Member Care works specifically with missionaries overseas and has put together the following chart for reactions to trauma in adults. You can see the original here. As you read the chart, mark those reactions that apply to you.
How many of the above reactions sound familiar to you? One, five, ten…more?
If you find yourself struggling, remember…it doesn’t mean you are weak or lacking faith. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. It is okay to struggle. When we accept our weakness, it opens the door for God's strength to work through us in ways we never imagined.
2 Corinthians 12: 9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."