Of course, we know it could be us. That's what makes it so traumatic. No matter how many stories we spin, no matter how good we are at convincing ourselves we're okay, we're not okay. Our world is broken, and we don't get to escape that.
We don't get to escape that by sitting back and making up stories about what happened until it all makes sense. Something inside of us knows it doesn't make sense, no matter how much sense we make of it. We don't get to escape it by making up stories about how it could never be us. The more we know the details in our own stories, the more we are keenly aware that it could be us. It could be us tomorrow.
That's why we have to get better at dealing with the traumatic silence. That's why we have to get better at handling the grief. That's why we have to get better at managing sacred space.
Because trauma isn't faced in the sense of it; it's faced in the silence. It's faced when we learn to sit and wrestle with brokenness as we encounter it. It's faced when we recognize that the only thing we can truly do is find our own way through it, based on our experiences and understandings and worldview.
It's faced when we realize that our only option is to confess openly that this world has some serious flaws in it, some powerful brokenness that stains the very fiber of creation. And then, when we figure out what we want to do with that.
Notice that I don't say - what we want to do about that. Trauma isn't about problem-solving. Not at first, at least. At first, it's about coming to terms with itself. It's about recognized trauma and letting it sit, letting it be, figuring out how to sit with it. Figuring out how to be with it.
What are we going to do with trauma?
And we're back where we started, with having to learn to sit in the silence with trauma and let that silence drown out all of the questions. With fighting back so that we don't rush to fill the silence with noise. With letting trauma speak in its own time so that we're sure that what we hear from it is truth and not just something we're telling ourselves to make us more comfortable.
To sacred spaces and solemn stillness and holding ourselves back from rushing in unprepared. To learning to sit instead of to let the franticness overtake us.
I heard the story last night of a woman talking to dispatchers on Sunday. Her daughter had called her from the mall and told her that she'd been shot, so the woman grabbed her purse and car keys and headed toward the mall. She got there while she was on the phone with the dispatchers, and they told her something she probably didn't want to hear. "Park your car, put your hazard flashers on, and wait. A police office will come and get you."
She wanted to rush in. She wanted to run right to the spot where her daughter last told her that she was. At the very least, she probably wanted to hang out by the ambulances and be there when her daughter came out. She wanted to throw herself deep into the midst of the trauma...and they told her not to. Mercifully, they told her not to.
So the question for us is this: in a moment like this, are you willing to just sit? Are you willing to sit in your car with your flashers on and wait?
How would it change your experience of the trauma if you would?