There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just traumatized

pexels-photo-54379.jpegMany people think that in order to have been traumatized emotionally that you must have been through a war, killed someone, been the victim of physical or sexual abuse.  Kidnapping is another horrible event that would leave any person traumatized.

Maybe you have never been through any of those events but you can still be traumatized.  First off I am not a Dr.  So please don’t get all scientific on me right away.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of experience with traumatic events.  Well I have been traumatized many times during my life.  Too many to really count all of the times.  And I was never in a war or killed anyone.  But I experienced traumatic events daily at work as a Peace Officer.  Not all of them were physical.  Many of them were something I read about.  Reading about crimes repeatedly can do damage to your psyche.  Your brain does not realize that it did not happen to you.  It just knows that it’s processing it.

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Let’s also just say right away that many people are in denial about their trauma.  There is a real stigma to being traumatized.  You are damaged goods, crazy, something is wrong with you etc.  These are all of the stereotypes about people who have been traumatized.

So perhaps you did not work at a prison and just have a relatively peaceful life.  But maybe someone died in your family or you lost a pet.  A relationship ends suddenly.  All of these events even though they are routine such as death, are all traumatic events.  So people have to learn how to process the grief that they have been through.

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People think it’s so easy to just leave it in the past, let it go, move on, keep going, shut up and just get over it.  Well grief doesn’t work that way.  It needs to go through a process.  You know the 5 stages of grief: denial,depression, anger, bargaining and finally acceptance.

I tell you what going through the grief process is very difficult.  You really need a strong support system and kind, loving people who will be supportive of what you are going through.  But sometimes people act out and then they don’t get help and self medicate.  They end up rude alcoholics, drug addicts, rage monsters, assholes, sex addicts and  porn addicts.  Yikes that’s a lot.

Well I do have some good news and actually it’s kind of a short cut to the healing process.  I always like to figure out the fastest way to do something.  And the easiest way to get through this is to just accept what happened.  Get to the point where you can just say yes it happened, I am sorry it happened, I accept that it happened but now it’s time to rise above that.  What is the lesson and what can I do to get better?  Also the hardest part is forgiving the person or institution that harmed you.

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Then that’s where the real work starts.  Support groups, self-reflection, counseling, crying, feeling your feelings.  Nobody wants to do it because it’s difficult.  But once you get to the other side, you’re like that wasn’t so bad.  And you get really strong.  But you must have a support system.  If you are estranged from your family, go to a church and start making positive connections with people.

Also remember, everyone is dealing with some bull shit.  So don’t think you are the only one.  You are so not alone and people want to help you.  You might have to turn off the TV and the phone.  Just reach out to someone.  A friend, pastor, cop, hospital, teacher, nurse, Dr.   Find out what is available to you and also there are a ton of resources on-line.  You don’t have to stay stuck dear one.  But you must begin the work to heal.  And I am sorry it’s not beautiful at first.  But it is so worth it.
Valerie is a Health and Wellness Coach and yoga Instructor.  She lives in Northern California with her daughter and puppy.  Learn how Valerie is coping here.

JOURNEY FROM COP TO YOGINI

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Journey From Cop to Yoga Instructor
My journey from law enforcement officer to yoga instructor was many years in the making. It all started in 1999 when I was extremely stressed out, depressed and experiencing insomnia and back and neck pain. I had been in a car accident and was also a newlywed on the brink of divorce. At the time I was living in Bakersfield, CA and there was not any yoga classes in the area that I knew about. I knew in my heart that yoga would help me if I could only find a class.
I purchased a few yoga DVD’s and did those but it did not seem to have much effect on my stress. Fast forward to 2004, I was not as stressed out as I was before but I still did experience back and shoulder pain. Finally I found a gym that offered yoga classes. This was after I had moved to the North Bay Area. So I took my yoga classes every Saturday and realized how inflexible I really was. The poses all seemed so foreign to me. As a former dancer, I couldn’t believe how tight I was and I kept doing it and noticed how after class I started to experience post yoga bliss. I would feel really relaxed and peaceful. I noticed things were not bothering me as much and I was sleeping better.

In 2006 I heard an ad on the radio about becoming a Yoga Instructor. So I decided to inquire about the training. They had a class starting in July 2006 but there were some issues with child care and the Yoga Instructor providing the training, Michelle Paisley who is now an internationally best selling author of a few books. Michelle said she was going to do it again in November 2006 as well

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Later in July 2006, my dear brother, Christopher died. It was then that I knew I was definitely going to become a yoga instructor in honor of him as he was into the Eastern philosophy in many ways.
In November 2006, I started my Yoga Alliance Certification at Yoga Junction in Suisun City, CA. It was a year long program and it required hours of teaching and co-teaching and I learned quite a bit. I also met some really amazing people. I met Jeff Bridges daughter, Isabelle who took the training with me. She was really down to earth and sweet. It wasn’t until months into the training that I found out who her dad was. I was introduced to meditation and chanting although I didn’t really get into that at that time.
Michelle Paisley Reed was wonderful to work with as well. She was in the process of writing her first book, Yoga For a Broken Heart. It was interesting hearing about her process of writing the book. I think it was a great experience for me to be around such a strong intelligent woman. I realized that there was a possibility that if she could write a book then I guess if I wanted to, I could write one too. Although I had no idea at the time that I would ever want to write. It’s just interesting to note that by her living her dreams, she was inspiring me to live mine too.
After I received my Certification as a Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher, I was still working full time. Now what was my thought. So I went to the gym where I originally took yoga and talked to the Group Fitness Manager. She said I needed another Certification as a Group Exercise Instructor through AFAA. So now I started my journey to get my certification in that. It was more studying anatomy with a practical exam and an all day seminar in San Diego with a test and then I had my certification as a Group Exercise Instructor.
Now I was ready to teach yoga to the masses. So I did apply for a position as a yoga instructor and soon I was teaching yoga weekly.

End of Career

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There is a bright shining light at the end of a tunnel that I’ve been traveling in for 26 years.  It hasn’t all been a dark tunnel but needless to say it has been very dark at many times.  I say that I can see the light to retirement very clearly.  If you can hang in there until retirement age, you will be glad that you did.  But it was definitely not an easy challenge.

My career has been very rewarding but very difficult.  I did not have an easy ride.  Unless you tell people about your situation, they don’t really know what you have been through.  And our experiences shape who we are as people.  You see someone who is going though a difficult time and wonder, “Wow, how did they get there?”  Well I guarantee if you take a minute to stop and find out, you will see that they have probably been given a life with difficult circumstances.  In any case, I’ve been through many difficult situations at work.  From seeing dead bodies to being a victim of indecent exposure on numerous occasions, to having people attempt to have very inappropriate relationships, to being called names for my physical appearance, sexually harassed, and also not getting along with co-workers which is the most difficult situation.  I’ve almost had to shoot at someone, cell extractions, being a witness to an autopsy, testifying in a death penalty trial, photographing trails of blood and I won’t even get started on the numerous disgusting descriptions of crimes that I’ve read about.

It takes its toll on a person.  It makes you tough and it can make you a hardened person.  Have I had to be tough?  You had better believe it.  I feel that I am not a hardened person although I know I am definitely rough around the edges.  I at many times find myself wanting to fight.  Not physically although I am not afraid of it.  But many times I can be defensive and if I feel someone is trying to threaten me or come at me with something inappropriate, I will slam them down so fast, their head will spin.  I don’t mean to be so hard, but it’s because of all of my experiences.  And also because people still want to be disrespectful.  But I can be disrespectful too.  If someone goes low, I can go low so fast and I will beat them at being low.  Kind of embarrassed to say that.  But it’s true.  I can use profanity like there is no tomorrow.  Sometimes, you just have to use profanity to describe the situation.  And it feels better.  Thank Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

But now I for the most part am loving to people. If I see that they are suffering if they are acting out, I have compassion for them.  Many of the people I work with have also been through some bad stuff too.  Such as being assaulted which in my opinion is the most traumatic.  But the thing is once you’ve been traumatized, we all heal in the same way but the more traumatized, the longer it takes to heal in my opinion but feel wonderful exploring this area yourself.

So needless to say, many co workers act out in my opinion because they are stressed to the max, sleep deprived, suffering from PTSD, poor diet, over weight and lack of social support.  So pretty much just living in survival mode.

And also I just want to say that I know I have been hurt, but I have also hurt people very much.  So I have been the victim and also been the one hurt people too.  I have hurt people in many different ways and I am really sorry to those I did hurt.  That was never my intentions to hurt anyone.  But sometimes when we are going through grief, we don’t always treat the people close to us with the most appreciation.  We need them to take care of us and usually parents do that for their kids.  And sometimes people grow up on the outside but are still behave very much like children.  I think there are many examples of such behavior in politics.

But I do feel that all of us are big kids anyway.  We still like to kick back and watch grown up cartoons.  So it’s the adult version of you as a kid watching cartoons.  So let’s all be patient with our big kid self.  And let’s have some fun for a minute.  Seeing dead bodies isn’t fun and I’m ready to get away from that drama and negativity.

I think people around there are an extension of the inmate populations. So the negativity just flows out to the staff and then they turn on each other.  Also because there is not a lot of violence on staff, the staff turn on each other for their aggression and frustration.  If staff were being assaulted, staff would so be united.  I can guarantee that there is a lot of camaraderie at MCSP where that Officer was almost murdered.

But I do feel that I can lose contact with people there very quickly. The good new is  if you want to keep in touch with me after retirement, you can.  And if you want to share with me your experiences on the comments that would be fantastic.  Or you can just follow me and see if anything I am saying resonates with you.  You can also email me questions or comments or you can just say, “Hi.”  What I would really love is for you to share with me how you are dealing with your traumatic situation.  I know we are all so resilient and you can overcome whatever situation you are in, you can turn it around.  It will take time, work and more time but it will be worth it.  But just start somewhere.

And I’ll just say this now, the hardest thing to change is your eating habits.  So just consult a professional health coach for assistance.  What you put in your body has a huge effect on how you feel mentally.  Start with what you are putting in your body.

I am a health coach but I’m not currently taking clients because I am working full time and blogging and being a mom with a house and trying to keep myself healthy.  But start with your Health Insurance.  Kaiser has excellent programs and I think they are really invaluable.

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I am wishing you all the good things in life.  And may your guardian angels protect and guide you.  I hope you are having an amazing summer and that you don’t take things too seriously.  Life is going very fast.  Just know that you can all on your guardian angels anytime you feel like it.  Just try it and you will begin to see amazing things begin to happen in your life.

With lots of Love and Blessings and all good things.

Val