Open a Window …

We all grew up around a phrase that said something like, whenever a door closes, look for the open windows. It also mentions god, and a plan and a fate based sense of hope and optimism about keeping going.

Photo: k.ArenHenryMiller Blue Ridge Mountains. The Sky … is the limit.

Nobody ever talked about the house fire, or the holes in the floor, or the broken body parts as you navigate toward that window.

That’s what trauma survivors know that the well wishers don’t. A house is not a home with only windows or doors. There are other moving parts that road block you from escaping the treachery that was your life that fell apart.

It can feel like no way out for a lot of people.

What does society do?

When someone speaks up (as encouraged by that society)?

Society will shut you back down if what you have to say is unpleasant or uncomfortable for them to hear?

They gaslight you into believing there’s something wrong with you for not being able to find the window, rather than holding your hand through the crushing smoke screen of other events and nuances that happen when that door slams shut.

Society tells you to get over it and move on.

More gaslighting, usually (not always) offered by well meaning people who have no concept of what it’s like to survive that sort of trauma, and don’t know what to say. They don’t mean to be insensitive, or verbally reopening a wound and they don’t mean to not care enough to listen to the story.

But they are. They also brush their hands of any responsibility of causing more harm. I’m feeling optimistic today, so will say, they didn’t know what they didn’t know when they were speaking.


What do trauma survivors do?

They do one of a couple things

  1. They isolate themselves so they can heal their own wounds
  2. They rise up and help other survivors, which in turn, also helps to validate them
  3. They retreat into darkness, hoping the world will end, as the waves of pain never put out the emotional fire that causes the smoke that blinds them from finding the forking window
  4. They push the trauma down and pretend it didn’t happen at all, then move on as if nothing happened. The window will open inside them in the next go-around and it won’t be pretty
  5. They pass the trauma onto the next generation to carry around for them

These five things, in my decades of working with trauma survivors are the five most common. They are not by any means the only way people deal with this silent, internal pain.

I do know this one collective truth that is a very large pill for society at large to hear, and usually gets mad when I say it.

Society is morbidly curious about the trauma itself. They also don’t want to hear the gritty, nitty details of the trauma, but then … they do.

Their response won’t be any different, but now? They have a good story to tell when they head out to that kid’s birthday party, or coffee shop for gossip hour.

Oh, the stories I could tell, said one and all.

But then, the survivor (I use this term instead of victim. On purpose. It’s a proactive approach to remind people who lived through trauma that they overcame one of the most prevalent, yet dismissed experiences in our country today … maybe world, but I have not been in the whole world, and don’t assume).

There are people trying to talk about their pain points every single day. They are doing so on social media because they know that the people closest to them, will all but totally ignore them.

When people do talk about pain, they aren’t cowards or desperate for attention.

The opposite of that is true.

They are finally at a place in their lives where they are strong enough to tell their story. It’s stronger than you’ll ever be, with whatever less awful part of humanity you had to live through.

With that said,

Nobody’s pain is to be compared to anyone else.

If you suffered an inconvenience 30 years ago, but that’s the worst thing that ever happened to you. That’s what you know.

If you were brutally beaten, deviled, dehumanized and survived other unspeakable things, but are here to tell the tale to an audience at a Ted talk. You have to live with that reality. And, you are the bravest person on earth.

**See, using the word, ‘UN-speakable’, since most delicate humans can’t handle the word ‘fuck’ let alone what was done to others**

By UN-speaking, society is asking those who survivor horror to NOT speak of what they can’t handle.

And yet, they celebrate horror movies.

Many survivors of horror will turn their real life human abusers into vampires, or demons, warewolves, or some other monster.

Real people are terrified of real monsters, and they are out there.

Our positivity movement washes over them.

For survivors, there isn’t always a window after the door closes. Unless someone from the outside breaks down the wall, to free them from their pain.

All of this, of course is heavy in metaphor. If you don’t get metaphors, you’ll be picking through the rubble of my words, trying to find a concrete tangible piece of data about someone you know.

Conceptual awareness that there is suffering in the world is enough.

Trauma survivors never “deserved” what happened to them.

Survivors of abuse didn’t “ask for it”.

As a matter of fact, they survived Dante’s 9 levels of hell before walking back out into the light.

Your petty, shallow gossip and online bullying is not going to scare them from living their best life.

They survived so much more than you did.

If anything, they are now the healers. They are the helpers. They are the ones who help others to forgive, to feel grace, to walk through the valley of the shadow of life.

I heard a YouTuber who offers commentary on Bachelor Nation as if he’s part of it. Over 50K people follow him for his “spilling of the tea” but in truth, he’s just a dude and professional commic who sometimes, let’s it slip that he’s laughing at the primarily older women who follow his channel. He’s brought up domestic violence and sexual assault a few times. This alleged feminist also says, “Show the receipts” in comment toward the women who have taken to social media to talk about the trauma they endured.

Um, hey, guy who has no idea who he is talking to, these women were noodling with a bachelor they thought they could trust. They are sharing their story in order to … maybe warn the others to not trust that man.

When we trust someone, there is no reason to think that we have to also “collect evidence” of the nuanced abuse, but that is exactly ALL the courts and law want to see.

OH, you were in a decade long marriage of fuckery and mind bending gaslighting? Prove it.

Oh, you were speaking out about how a coworker was bullying and harassing you to the point where you needed therapy, as a result of nobody at work helping you? You took it to your boss several times? You gave a detailed description of what happened? The boss gaslit you and brushed it off as, “that’s just the way she is”? Prove it. Did you document that conversation? Did you video tape all interactions with the office bully? Are there witnesses?

The law has not caught up with harassment, bullying, or incidents of misconduct any more than the social structure of your community.

Luckily, for survivors and those who want to become more consciously aware of how to be a good citizen, there are now thousands of people who have taken to social media to talk about all of this. Out loud.

I blew the proverbial house down with my rage.

Fuck the doors and windows. I was given strength to burn the bridge to the ground, and walk out into the entire sky, far above the doors and windows (remember, metaphors here).

I’m building my own version of a home and safe house in the digital world.

If you think this is about you, then … be nervous. Prove it. Which means, you also own the guilt and fear that lives on the other side of abuse.

That’s the thing about abusers. They abuse on purpose. Then, they pretend their victims are ‘crazy’. Then, they act like the victim. “Acting” is the operative word there.

Over the course of the past forty years, I’ve had so many conversations with so many survivors of abuse, I could write a book! Oh wait … LOL

Seriously though, this is written in the first and second person with intent and purpose.

Walk a mile in her shoes. Walk a mile on hot coals, barefoot. Forget the shoes.

Survivors of trauma (regardless of gender, I just use ‘she’/’her’ and ‘him’/’his’ as a reference, we all know that non-binary and trans-people have suffered statistically more than anyone).

Open the window, head over to a collective, a group, a co-op or a social media platform that will welcome you.

Forget the door. Build a house with stronger doors. Head into the freedom of a mental sky that will allow you to breath again.

Helpers are there.

They are out here in the universe, ready, willing and able to help you in a non-prejudice; non-judgmental; non-gossipy way.

Okay, enough metaphors.

Survivors of trauma, these 3 things are 100% true

  1. There is help
  2. You are NOT alone
  3. You are the strongest, bravest person out there. Even when you don’t feel or want to have to feel brave.

When we speak of unspeakable things, we also offer hotline numbers. I’m choosing not to do that today.

Instead, open your social media.

  1. Type in “trauma survivor” in the search bar.
  2. Reach out to that group or person.
  3. Ask to join.
  4. Don’t participate just yet.
  5. Instead, read and watch.
  6. Do they align with how you feel?
  7. Are they potentially your people?
  8. Read the comments (which are a mine field).
  9. Are the commenters kind?
  10. Remember that everyone is on a different part of the journey.
  11. Healing is a process.
  12. Treat others as you’d have them treat you.
  13. If it triggers you, step away again for a while.

Seek help (check out Thriveworks for online therapy; or Psychology Today for help in your area.

IF you have healed through the hard part, but want an extra tour guide into life again, consider a coach who specializes in either psychology or social work. Maybe stay away from those with no mental health background, as they are suited to less intense emotional work.

Cheers to your journey!

And building a new life with better doors and bigger windows that self open when they detect danger 🙂

Consider an open floor plan (metaphors again).


@happinessnoir @inkhoneypub is the house that I built

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