Another experience I am still processing and understanding is that of the anniversary reaction. Actually, I feel this is linked to my last post on generational curses as its something that can be passed on to others if we’re not careful.
An anniversary reaction sometimes, called the trauma anniversary effect, Is where a person’s trauma is triggered on or around the anniversary of their traumatic experience (often linked to PTSD). This could be because they haven’t processed it fully. Frankly I think there are some traumas that are so big, so painful we will always feel it. As ever, taking care of yourself, reflecting and taking steps to manage emotions in a healthy way are key. Failure to do so can result in making the time more painful for yourself and others, spreading the suffering onto those who had nothing to do with it (maybe even causing trauma) and prolonging the pain for another year.
It only takes one experience, one moment in time to change a person forever. News of a loved one lost, a toxic break up, an attack. Much like the positive moments in life they leave a mark on our internal calenders. Without even consciously making a note of it. The closer we get to the anniversary the more we feel it. I’ve even had times where I felt emotional, couldn’t put my finger on it, and then the penny drops, I realise the date, I remember what happened and it all comes flooding back.
As time goes on, I’d like to say the reaction eases, and in some ways it does. Only, because every year I try to let go a little more of the toxic echoes left behind.
For every person it’s different, sadness, anger, reactivity, indulging in escape and displacement.
For me it’s reactivity. Something I used to struggle with in my younger days. Around this time of year, when the snowdrops came, I suffered a really bad time; a toxic relationship came to an explosive end, I was betrayed by 2 people I loved. My mental health was a mess already and in amongst it all my beloved ferrets died 4 days apart. Sadly, it had all been a long time coming.
I reacted badly (not a high moment for me I can tell you) but I know now none of us were emotionally equipped to do better. And actually the healing that followed really was the making of me.
Now, for the first few anniversaries I dreaded the sight of those first snowdrops. It brought back all the anxiety and pain and with it, shame and anger at myself mostly and those who had hurt me. It was the loss of my ferrets that really set it in my internal calender. The nail in the emotional coffin. I knew I had to do something to help me heal and process the trauma.
Everyone’s trauma is different I’m not going to go into more detail here. Like always, if you want to know the specifics, my life is an open book. If you think it will help you then please ask, but I feel no need to share it publicly. The point is, I had to take control for myself stop just resting to the pain. Take the time to process and understand why things had to happen that way, this only comes with time and acceptance.
Now, I allow myself to feel the sadness rather than fight it or shame myself. I can be honest about it and talk with loved ones. Vulnerability is not weakness it is strength. If we all could remember that when we are hurting, we could lead the way to positive change. Allowing others to do the same. We could help each other through the hard times and show the next generation that no matter what you’ve been through. It doesn’t define you, you can go on. You may never be the same again, and actually, that’s a good thing. We are here to grow and learn so that we can support those who come after. Unfortunately the best growth comes in the hard parts.
We’ve all experienced trauma, most more than one. That is how life goes I’m afraid. Resisting and fighting your emotions won’t work in the long term (please believe me). Be brave my darlings. Feel your feelings when you feel them. Seek support and heal. When you know there is a hard time coming for you, try to be gentle, practice self-care. Make space for it whatever that looks like for you. I hope you find it easier as time passes. We can never be rid of our scars, we simply learn to go on with them.
I hope if this resonates with you that you find peace.