By Richard Taylor
6.1.16 (Lifestyle): Remembering traumatic situations is always a challenge for the one doing the recalling of memories. Reflecting on life-altering events isn’t wrong, but what can, and which has proven to, be dangerous is how we respond to what we remember. Trauma, and our responses to it, manifests in many forms. For example, one may willingly neglect to use pleasantries with friends and strangers. Or, it can be something more severe, and less subtle, like developing a phobia of the outdoors due to a fear of being pierced by a random bullet.
I’ve come to realize, through my many years of depression and suicide attempts, that experiencing trauma is often out of our control, but our reactions to it isn’t.
In my new book, Love Between My Scars, I talk about my traumatic experience of being surrounded and attacked in the boys’ bathroom by a group of young men who moments after the beat-down took my Pokémon cards and told me that I was defenseless because I’m fat. In that moment, instead of speaking affirmations to myself, I became weak and alone and began wearing masks – in the form of unhealthy relationships, superficial titles and athletic accomplishments – to hide my truth and, more importantly, my true personhood.
I hid behind masks for 10 years until my final suicide attempt, when a doctor then genuinely encouraged me to live, and live, unmasked, I did. I’m learning, though, that I’m no different than any other human who wears a mask to avoid being exposed. But the danger of wearing a mask throughout life is the potential it has of driving one insane by trying to keep up with lie after lie.
Through my recovery I learned that this didn’t have to be my story; everything I did was by choice. I know now how to counter the attacks on my purpose: getting to a place of addressing issues head on and never reaching for a mask.
For those of you hiding yourself as a result of past hurts and experiences, I urge you to face them head on and stay mindful of the fact that you’re more than the sum of your mistakes and the terrible things that have happened to you.
Those situations may have been life-altering, but they shouldn’t own or control you. Take your power back! Redirecting your energy and time! Embrace the process and the lessons that ensue!
When you self-affirm, own and harness your power and live in love, despite feelings fear and hate, you can avoid becoming a masked creature, a human whose true identity becomes so secret that it eludes him/her and passer-byers.