Do you know how they’re formed?
These geological masterpieces are created by a little bit of pressure over a long period of time. From one month to the next, you might not even be able to see a vast difference in the rock formation. But it’s there.
Canyons are exactly the reason why you should consider your trauma and internal distress important, no matter it’s origin. Here’s what I mean.
Case Distinction Myth Debunked
We mental health experts have shifted trauma into two different categories. The first is big “T” trauma, and the second is little “t” trauma. What many people fail to realize is that the case distinction is no indication of importance.
Big “T” traumas usually happen in one fell swoop. They are extraordinarily impactful events like war, natural catastrophe, or sexual assault. As you can imagine, they can leave a deep and negative imprint on life.
Small “t” traumas are situations that fall outside of your ability to cope. Things like divorce, relocation, or financial troubles. They cause distress and a strain on your mental strength, much like an overworked muscle.
Or, like the steady flow of cool water cutting effortlessly through solid rock.
Little “t” Trauma and Its Layers
One little “t” trauma isn’t going to send you down into a spiral of despair. If you’re like most people, you’ll likely park this disturbance in the back of your mind and attempt to continue on with life.
But experience one little “t” after another, and the space in the back of your mind overflows. It’s in the layers where the problem gets compounded. Especially if these layers are sandwiched over a short period of time.
And there’s not always that one straw that breaks the camel’s back, as they say.
Rather, you may one day realize that your body aches all the time, you’re unhappy, or you don’t enjoy hobbies like you used to.
Consider the Plywood Effect
Here’s the thing about little “t” trauma. The layering often begins in early childhood. But it builds up steadily, to the point where it impacts your adult life. In fact, you can liken this toxic layering effect to a piece of plywood.
A product assembled by gluing together layers of wood veneer, it holds its ground in the world of lumber. And its strength is in the seemingly insignificant layers.
Essentially, ignoring the plywood effect of little “t” trauma is like giving more glue to each toxic piece of veneer. Left unchallenged, those independent pieces of veneer accumulate to form a crushing piece of wood.
The Beauty in a Canyon
Moving away from plywood, fix your mind’s eye on the canyon mentioned earlier.
When you look at a canyon, it’s gorgeous. Although you can clearly see where the liquid knife cut, the earthly scar is breathtaking.
You shouldn’t dismiss your little “t” trauma, because they can ultimately add beauty to your life. Though not within the same breath that they occur. And it certainly doesn’t feel this way after infidelity, the loss of a job, or whatever the hardship might be.
Rather than ignore the pain or push it to the back of your mind, feel it, experience it, and give it the opportunity to transform you.
Like the canyon, both pain and healing happen one layer at a time. And when it does, it reveals a distinct uniqueness unrivaled by anything else in life.
Take the first step…
EMDR can help you heal from the impact of little “t” trauma in your own life, and I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT