In my adult years, I started to understand the impact that traumatic situations can have on people. Sparked mostly through conversations with my older brother who had done a deep dive into the subject matter, I kept hearing a word over and over again; disregulated.
When you go scuba diving, you probably aren’t thinking about the 3,000 pounds of air pressure that could blow your lungs out if tried to fill them instantly. What prevents this from happening is the regulator valve; a small device that normalizes the air pressure when you take a breath.
Without a regulator, the sport of scuba diving wouldn’t exist.
Think for a moment what would happen if your regulator malfunctioned while you were diving. Depending on your depth, it could be a fatal malfunction, and it would be normal to experience a fear sensation in that moment most know as ‘fight or flight’ – our evolutionary survival switch.
Emotional trauma feels a lot like the scuba diving example. Instead of being underwater, you’re doing day-to-day activities when suddenly your ‘regulator’ malfunctions and you’r suddenly triggered into a fight-or-flight response.
When I look back on my childhood, I don’t think there are a lot of moments I would consider traumatic. In many ways, I had an incredible childhood experience. Yet, my first real dive into the world of trauma came when I heard the news that my Dad had cancer.
Emotional trauma feels like trying to pour an entire ocean of water into a shot glass, which can also be applied to life experiences happening when we’re too young to process them.
These last few years have been the most difficult of my entire life. In the past few weeks, I have felt the pressure mount and it has been an excruciating process to go through.
It was hard to lose my Dad. However, it was also difficult to watch as my newborn son was whisked away from me only weeks after being born, given a name that wasn’t mine – while being told repeatedly he wasn’t mine in the first place.
It’s taken me nearly two years to unpack that wound – as well as to finally gain legal rights and positive paternity that Atlas is mine.
In many ways, I’m only now starting to recover and feel like I’m back on my feet. However, I now look at these experiences and recognize that they had a traumatic impact on me, something that I have to live with every single day from the moment I wake up.