I had a college professor once who said that many people deal with traumatic memories as we would a trunk full of rattlesnakes. We keep the trunk tightly locked because we believe that if we open it, danger will quickly overtake us.
I have thought about that for years, wondering if keeping those rattlesnakes in the trunk is a good—or bad—idea. Are we truly safe leaving them in there or will, eventually, we find that they have worked their way out and we have no idea where they are—or if they’re ready to strike?
Would it perhaps be better to open the trunk and deal with them when we’re better equipped and ready, especially if perhaps we’ve requested someone to help us, to not open that trunk alone?
Of course, the trunk full of rattlesnakes is an excellent metaphor for traumatic or similar experiences. Everyone deals with those experiences differently but is there a better way to face and manage difficult memories.
Brooke Brown, clinical director for Diakon Family Life Services – Capital Region, which offers services to address traumatic experiences, below shares professional thoughts on trauma and how to address it in a healthy way.
Diakon Corporate Communications
I think that historically, we (that is the general population, not us therapist-types) have not really known how to deal properly with trauma and traumatic experiences. We have thought about trauma as a physical issue, like a car accident or something requiring medical attention. Or we have convinced ourselves that not dealing with traumatic memories is best because, after all, no one can see the wounds if we don’t talk about them.