Trauma and trauma recovery look different for everyone, but generally, there’s a deep, hardened core and a bunch of squishy stuff, all held together by a peel juuuust thick enough to keep us composed unless something comes along to smash us.
A lot of times, we think the “pit” is in the past, and the “problem” is all the squishy green goop, but I believe so deeply that care for the green goop is only palliative: it provides some comfort but not healing.
Do you have a safe place to plop out your pit? Working with the core (in the context of a therapist or provider who has shown they deserve your trust and have helped you work up to it) is, I believe, the path to deep recovery.
Trauma & Trauma Recovery
Before we can talk about trauma recovery, it’s important to understand what the word “trauma” means. According to the Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center, trauma “…results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.”
This is a functional definition of trauma, describing what trauma is at a basic level. A deeper understanding of trauma reveals that there are different types: childhood trauma, intergenerational trauma, single-incident trauma (often called “Big T trauma”), vicarious trauma (or second-hand trauma), and “little t trauma” (very difficult but normal things like moving, losing a job, or the death of someone close to you).
Trauma therapy addresses all of these types of trauma. How trauma therapy works can feel a bit mysterious, mostly because trauma recovery is complex. It involves slowly learning how to integrate experiences, finding a way to make meaning from the experiences, developing coping skills, and building internal resilience. It also involves reframing how we think and talk – literally the language we use – about trauma.
To dig deeper into my resources on trauma, trauma treatment, and trauma recovery, click here.
Digital downloads of this strange little metaphor can be purchased below – or you can get a printed poster sized version for your home or office via this link. Let me know if you’d like to see it in any other formats!
Image Description for Screen Reader Accessibility:[Description of image#1] on a light yellow background, a headline reads: trauma recovery (as illustrated by an avocado). The image shows a hand-drawn avocado on the left side of the image.
A line connects the peel of the hand-drawn avocado to text reading: Outer peel: what people on the outside see. (Often has some bumps but is otherwise “fine.”)
A line connects the soft inner portion of the hand-drawn avocado to text that reads: Squishy goo. Feelings. All the feelings + mental health symptoms, somatic symptoms, triggers, dissociation, etc.
A line connects the pit of the hand-drawn avocado to text that reads: The pit. Traumatic memories + beliefs about self or world that are based in trauma and shame.[image description of second image] also on a light yellow background. Headline text also reads: trauma recovery as illustrated by an avocado.
A hand-drawn avocado is on the left side of the image. A line connects the outer skin of the hand-drawn avocado to text that reads: part you share with the outside world.
A second line connects the soft inner portion of the hand-drawn avocado to text that reads: part you share with your support network (friends and family) for emotional support, and
A third line connects the pit of the hand-drawn avocado to text that reads: part you share in a safe, therapeutic, environment for recovery.