How we are changed in the aftermath of trauma.

Morning sun radiates its warmth into my skin.

There is only me in this place where gentle waves caress my feet and golden sand stretches for miles, untouched in soft light and daybreak silence.

Once, I would have revelled in a moment like this. My hopeful blue eyes would have taken in every remnant of the scene before me, my heart unable to do anything more than burst wide open at the delight of it all.

But today, I am unmoved by beauty. Just as I was yesterday. As I have been every day for longer than I care to remember. Where beauty would have once soaked into my bones and renewed my soul, it no longer reaches me.

I am untouchable.

This is the aftermath of trauma; the way it has changed me, broken me.
My life now exists behind a glass pane. I see the world around me, but it is muted, dulled. Once upon a time I felt too much, I now feel too little, if anything at all. Emotions overwhelm me, I am not able to process them anymore. Behind the glass I am protected from the onslaught of them. I observe them. But I am not ready to feel them. Not yet.

I try to hear the words my heart used to speak but they elude me. My heart remains silent, as does my mind, both of them worn out from the fight, loyal soldiers who spent too long on the frontline and no longer have the will to persevere. “Courage, dear heart,” I say, but my heart is not ready to listen. It is not ready to trust. It is not ready to once again believe the world is good, people are good. In the absence of its voice, I hear only the faint murmur of disconnected beats. Though not dead, I am anything but alive.

Disoriented, I find no rest in the spaces my presence once filled. I wonder who this woman is. She is no longer who she used to be, yet does not know what she is supposed to become. I am lost and confused as I wander through this no-man’s land; homesick and in search of a place to find shelter and rest, yet I continue to find only paths lined with thistle and thorns and my soul longs for a place that is not promised to me anyway.

My heart no longer lies upon my sleeve, I am a patchwork frame, gaping holes roughly sewn with clinical sutures. No longer will I wear my heart for the world to see. No longer will the world destroy it with razor-sharp tongues and cruel-intentioned hands while I am left to pick up the mess though I can barely pick myself up off the floor. I am withdrawn. Insular. I trust no-one, let no-one close, reach out for no-one in the night when the silence becomes so frighteningly loud I cannot stand it.
I have forgotten how to create, for my creativity was nurtured through beauty. And while beauty no longer touches me, neither can creativity emerge. My page is filled with scrawls and scribbles, useless words with no heart and no meaning, angry lines drawn through even angrier words.

I am exhausted but never sleep, instead caught in this bitter paradox that only exacerbates my inability to function. I am preoccupied by thoughts that lack clarity, distracted by fears that lack certainty.

Trauma. The emotional response to an extremely negative event.

Those around me are uncomfortable with my response. They would rather I just find a way to deal with it, get over it. Mess on the floor makes people nervous. But I refuse to force myself to smile to please a world that likes everything to look pretty.

Trauma has no rules. We grasp our way through the darkness and reach for whatever we can to steady ourselves. We cannot rush the work of healing. We cannot rush our hearts to find their courage once more.

For now, life behind the glass pane is where I cannot be touched, hurt, broken. It is where I watch the world with cautious eyes until the day comes when I feel safe once more to exist within it. And on that day, I will step out from behind the glass. The sun will warm my weary limbs and beauty will graze my tentative soul.

And in that moment, I will know the healing has begun.


Written by Kathy Parker.

(With permission)

Please check out Kathy’s blog at :

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  1. Dear Kathy, you did it again. You wrote a story all about my life. I lay here in tears. Your words are imprinted in my heart and soul. I am trying to get out from behind the glass wall. I keep getting cut. It is a never ending battle. Thank you.

  2. I can totally relate to this. I don’t want to feel this way but I just do…
    I’m exhausted but never sleep…my heart is no longer on my sleeve. Broken and hoping I can someday step out from behind the glass and truly be happy again.

  3. I cannot impress upon you how much this post spoke to me! I share “Lessons Learned in Life” on FB & have several followers. I do NOT take any credit for the words. I feel if the message speaks to me – it will speak to others.

    This 1 – I will not share but I’m sure I’ll read daily. In fact, I’ve read it 5+ times already & sent it to my therapist so she can better understand where I feel my heart currently lives! My heart was completely broken & I’m working my way back. My relationship nearly destroyed me but I will not let it define me! I long for the day I can once again open my heart! I used to wear my heart on my sleeve (I would joke that my left ventricle was on my left arm & my right ventricle was on my right). I’m now too guarded. I know this puts limits on my emotions but, only I will know when I’m ready again…

    Thank you again for sharing this! I just wonder how you knew what I needed to hear…

    1. Good morning . Understand Tari the emotions you have been through . My own personal journey of trauma started ten years ago . The first two years were tough and I was in my own hell and at one stage even contemplated leaving the planet . I had reached rock bottom . I had been my own interactions with the small voice within us where God is , the voice said that you are a coward because you are taking the easy way out . I listened to that voice , and a small spark was lit . Today ten years later that small spark has become a burning desire to bring about my own transformation . Have I changed ? that is not for me to say , the affirmation becomes from others around you , one’s family . At the same time there is no bitterness or hatred against those who walked out of my life , only Gratitude for who and where I am today . When one Let’s go the Universe ensures that new people walk in your life who one can relate to and impact you and are compatible with you . one has moved on in life learning and implementing all the lessons life has taught me . Thank you for sharing your experiences .

  4. Dear Kathy (and Suzanne),
    I get it. I care. I am there right now, too.
    I read this today in my email. God bless you both.

    Let not your heart be troubled,
    Give your worries and cares to Me.
    I am your Heavenly Father
    Who suffered and died for thee.
    There are times throughout your Earthly life
    When you are filled with doubts and fear.
    Always come to Me in prayer
    And know that I am near.
    The love I have for you, dear child,
    Can never be bought or measured.
    It’s a gift I freely give to you.
    It is My most precious treasure.
    When sorrow or pain come your way
    And life seems to be unfair,
    Let not your heart be troubled…
    Just come to Me in prayer.

    Shirley Hile Powell

  5. Wow is all I can say, I’ve been here sweetheart and lived and learned to tell the tale. Their is light at the end of the tunnel even from the unimaginable trauma,we hit rock bottom and we have a choice to totally break beyond repair or to see the light through the dark we then find our most important earthly lessons within that light and then hopefully go on to help others find there way out of their darkness, it’s true we can’t ever truly understand and empathise unless we have lived it. U will find your way out it might not seem like it but through writing and accepting your feelings or numbness in this case u are already half way there good look u can and will emerge from this a stronger happier truthful lady it may never be worth what u suffered but u will find good from a terrible situation xx

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