trauma informed care + how it will make you a better friend

i wanted to tell you my story.

i had it ready to publish. it was all written out. it was all ready to go.

i wanted to tell you the story. and not some poem written with emotion and created to make you feel things. i wanted to tell you what happened and how it changed my life.

but i’ve already shared how it changed my every day life. and i already shared my victim impact statement, how it was still affecting me even two years later.

it’s sexual assault awareness month, and i swear to god, i can’t imagine a world in which i did not use this platform to advocate for justice and remind people that healing may not be linear, but it still is possible. in fact, each part of healing is so damn beautiful in it’s own way.

but today it didn’t feel right. i don’t want to talk about it today. i don’t feel good about it. i woke up today, and the only thing i wanted to share with you was the single most important thing i’ve learned in my adult life, and how that one concept adjusted the entire way i look at my friendships, interact with people, and overall how i function in the world.

and that concept is trauma informed care.

trauma informed care is a form of practice that promotes safety, empowerment, and healing. but i’ve found that clinical words never fully encompass what it means to envelop someone in care and compassion that comes alongside being trauma informed.

i often describe trauma informed care like this: imagine working at a homeless shelter, and the rules are that no weapons of any sort are allowed in the facility. a young girl, 19, comes into the shelter seeking a bed for the evening. but during checks during the night, you find that she is sleeping with a knife under her pillow.

standard practice, often behavior modification, says that she broke the rules, and she is no longer able to stay there for the night. she might be suspended from services for some amount of time. but trauma informed care responds so differently. trauma informed care takes a step back and recognizes that people do things for a reason. it sees that a young woman is sleeping with a knife underneath her pillowcase close to her hands, and asks what that woman might have gone through to encourage her to sleep with a knife underneath her pillowcase, and then problem solving at the root of that problem.

it’s a great life skill, actually. solving things at the root of the problem.

trauma informed care looks at a woman sleeping with a knife under her pillow, decides that the knife makes her feel safe, and then assesses the situation and works with her to ensure that she is put in a situation that allows her to feel safe and also allow for the rules to be followed and expectations to be met. it builds rapport rather than exerts authority, it is supportive rather than directive, and it is person centered rather than rules based.

and this is single handedly the most important thing i’ve learned in my adult life.

because it was the basis of how i learned to take care of myself in my trauma without utilizing negative coping methods.

being trauma informed has helped me love myself with so much more grace as i walk through each step of healing. i’ve learned i’m not as hard on myself. i’ve learned how to look at my anxiety and treat it from the root, which lets me see why i’m experiencing symptoms and work through ways to heal from the source. it has made me a better person, and it has made me a better friend.

the trauma informed mindset has altered the way i treat everyone. from my friendships and my coworkers to my clients and the stranger on the street, recognizing that the way people respond to things says so much more about who they are than who i am has taught me so much about how to respond with the grace and gentleness that people need.

being trauma informed has made me a better friend because i no longer want to change the people around me to fit my needs. it allows people i come in contact with to show up as they are, and it allows me to support them as they need. recognizing that people have gone through their shit and are just trying to do their best will change the way you treat the people around you.

we are all just doing the best we can. let your people show up as they are. understand that they are just trying to make it through. and watch your friendships flourish. be the most supportive friend you can be, and being trauma informed is a great start.

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