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Trauma Response by Jessie Rising

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

You never think it can happen to you….until it does.

That’s the thing about life, it’s short, and it’s incredibly unfair. As Rocky Balboa once said, “Life will beat you to your knees and leave you there if you let it.” Last year, life literally beat me to my knees, in the blink of an eye. Once second, it was the Fourth of July. It was one of those nights that you stop for a second and think about how happy you are. Where you intentionally look around more intently, because you know this is something you won’t forget. I was laughing so hard my belly hurt, and was smiling so much I had cramps in my cheeks, and I could feel happiness radiating all around me. One second it was the Fourth of July, and the next second I was running into a cloud of smoke to see my brother for what very well could have been the last time.

The pain I felt is something that is so distinct, yet something that I fail to represent with words. Quite literally, my world felt upside down. Walking made me lightheaded, and doing anything

but crying felt like an actual chore. If I could draw any analogy, I would refer to it as an out of body experience. I was fully aware of what was going on, that my brother may not make it to the hospital alive, and that this truly had just happened right before my eyes, yet I was almost watching myself in disbelief. Silence was deafening, and everything was just a haze. It was the most chaotic pain I’ve ever felt. In a moment so traumatic, there is no running. You can’t possibly try to escape the present moment.

I can’t remember any sounds after seeing my brother on the ground. I don’t remember hearing an ambulance or anything anyone else said. But my eyes have permanently stored everything I visually saw. As we drove to the hospital, I thought about what everyone else was doing in that moment. Some were probably getting into bed, others may be up watching a late night movie. As we were waiting to hear about the condition of my brother, night turned to morning, and I thought about how many people were making breakfast, or waking their kids up to go to the beach. I remember being so angry. How could the entire world keep turning when mine was in a million shattered pieces?

Looking back to that pain, and the anger that I felt a year ago, I realized that I am not alone. Although the feeling of helplessness is so indescribable, I discovered that it is universal. It’s our body’s innate response to trauma. It’s lonely inside of our own brains, and when something traumatic happens, and the world keeps turning as if it’s just another day, it’s really easy to shut down. To feel so small, and so out of place that the hurt you’re feeling stays internalized: cooped up in the pit of your stomach.

It’s comforting to know that someone has experienced the same feeling. We can’t describe it, but we all have felt the same way. And if you’re currently living inside that feeling, it sucks. I remember feeling like it would never end. Like this fear of the unknown, and anxiousness about what comes next, was permanently engrained in my brain. It’s been a year since my brother’s accident, and I can’t lie and tell you that I don’t think about the accident a lot, I think about it all the time. But my brother is here. A miracle in the flesh. Time heals. God is faithful, and He takes things meant for evil and he turns them for good.

You’re not alone. This is not the end. Time heals, and so will you.

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