The Truncating Trenches of Trauma

This morning the mist clung wet and heavy, pausing only at the dew-drenched dirt. There is something in the morning mist that matches the melancholy in my mind.

The mist clings like the residue of ruin.

It was Spurgeon who said the “dew of grace falls heavy in the night of sorrow” – so it is in the trenches of trauma. It has taken all I have, my career, my health, my time, and much effort from a few tireless, true others, to crawl, claw and comprehensively climb out of the trenches of trauma.

Tis true that I never live far from that trauma filled trench; that means then, the rain of ruin drenches me regularly, and the dew of grace falls heavily upon my feet. The trench calls me not, but you do, she does, he does, they do. I cannot close my ears, my eyes, my heart and my life to the plaintive pleas of the wounded.

I cannot and I will not. Not now, not ever. 

A trench is a deep furrow in the dirt, supposedly to protect from the enemy fire. I can see that. Crawling out of it certainly has exposed me, my husband and my children. As I rise up to speak, I am a target. I stand before you in makeshift armor, riddled with word laden wounds. I bleed heavily, some days I feel the hemorrhage very close to my heart. I bleed willingly, but not joyfully.

All who try to climb out of the trenches of trauma need years of support. First in the trench to triage the trauma; second to scale the wall with repeated falls; third to deal with inevitable blows from the front lines of life once they rise on wobbly legs. In the church we have a tendency to weaken the wounded; Christ strengthened them.

How unlike Christ, Christians can be. 

The root word of trauma in late middle english is “truncate”, to sever by cutting, to cut something off at the end. In Latin, the root word is “truncare or truncat” meaning maimed. I have to sit with this, close my eyes and feel the weight of it. The mist rolls in heavy, the dew rises from the deep.

“Trauma is an infliction of helplessness in response to overwhelming events that rupture ordinary systems of adaptation. Trauma involves feelings of “intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and the threat of annihilation.” (Herman 1992)

Trauma has an exorbitant cost, I am paying it. My husband too has paid a crushingly high price to be tied to a trauma survivor; he is a secondary victim. He will pay a higher price in days to come I suspect, although when we talk of it, he tells himself it won’t be so. In the trench of trauma I left behind a career in health, but I carry its knowledge, and the dialectic of trauma deep within my DNA. The residue of ruin remains in my body, I feel its effects. Trauma is a toll road that I pay the fees on daily as I trudge back and forth to the trench. I feel it in the marrow of my movements, the autoimmune attacks; the inflammation of loss and the carcinogenic effects of crisis.

The wind has come up, the trees dance to its music, and lo, the mist has diminished. The leaves give way freely, delightfully to the dance. I suspect, with my “suspect-er”, that I will do likewise. I say this soberly, knowing exactly what this means to the those that love me. I will do all I can for them, for you, for Him and for hope, before I am called home.

Trauma truncates, but that is not the end of the story. As a sexual abuse/trauma survivor, I do not make light of trauma when I say that it is a “temporal suffering.” It was Lewis who said this…

“They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.”

“Both processes begin even before death.”

“The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. The Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.”

“And both will speak truly.”