Trauma can take place because of a single experience, or enduring repeated or multiple experiences, that can overwhelm the person’s ability to cope.
Regardless of its source, trauma is always unexpected, the person unprepared and there was nothing the person could do to stop it. The experiences and reactions of the person determine the trauma and not the event itself necessarily.
Trauma is destabilizing, The impact of these events does not simply go away when or because they are over.
Traumatic experiences can change the way we see ourselves and the world.
Sometimes the impact of the trauma is not felt until weeks, months or even years after the traumatic event. Trauma happens to all people of all ages and across all socio-economic strata in our society. However, the gendering in our socialization of our community has a direct impact on how we deal with trauma.
We tell men to be strong and not show weakness, we tell our women to continue business as usual. Children are seen not heard not spoken to only instructed.
When we see the statistics of GBV, VAC, unemployment, underemployment, school drop-out etc. Do we only hear numbers, or do we also hear the stories and the voices represented by the numbers?
Do we hear the multilayered socio-economic violence, poverty, access to health? I sit with these people every day.
I listen for the unsaid the unheard. We need to interrogate the building blocks of society that is failing to protect us. How does this level of violence affect the psychology of help-seeking and trust in the systems?
Intergenerational Trauma Narrative of Youth
The impacts thereof are further seen in our societies today. Loss of connectedness with language, traditions, and rich cultural history.
Lack of control over land and resources hence the housing crises.
The poverty of children. Lack of initiative and innovation leading to apathy as a nation.
Dependency on others and normalization of violence. We cannot any longer deem these are isolated incidences.
Who we are we reproduce in our children and the stories of our today become the lived experiences of tomorrow.
The social issues facing this nation cannot be separated because they are so closely interwoven. One issue triggers the other.
This toxic relationship further destroys the support systems that can be a positive influence.
Becoming a Safe Space
Catharsis refers to the purging of heavy emotion. Catharsis happens when we experience the repressed emotions and feelings to address them adequately.
The national trauma we faced in the birthing a new nation needs to be spoken about, addressed and embraced.
Are you a safe space? whose responsibility is it to be an emotional host?
As we address not only the structural inequalities that are a result of our past let us not forget to explore softer issues that are nuanced in perception and experiences.
We further need to have honest conversations about the real and perceived inequalities and not be quick to dismiss someone’s experiences no matter how far it goes from our own.
We need to become safe spaces for each other.
We may not be able to change someone’s situation, however, we can allow each other to be weak, to struggle and not have everything figured out.
We can normalize the process called life that sometimes things do not work out and that is ok.
Understanding that Healing can be painful, it is sometimes messy and illogical but that should not scare us from confronting the demons in our lives.
That we do not confine ourselves to our world of experience.
I struggle to reconcile the responsiveness to physical ailments vs the mental aches.
As a nation we need to ask ourselves what the psychological makeup of the people is.
What does economic and political liberation mean for someone caught in cycles, mazes, and prisons of poverty, domestic violence, poor education, access to basic needs?
I urge us to institutionalize and normalize wellness and mental wellbeing for all of us to slow down, take time to hear someone out sit a little longer and JUST BE, to breathe with another, to see another and to be moved by another.
Hopefully, we can strengthen our connectedness in our pain, prosperity, and power not just as individuals but ultimately as world changers, who continue to live authentic inspired lives reciprocating courage one to another.
Steven Bernardus Harageib