Long ago, when I was still in graduate school. one of my professors used a metaphor that has stayed with me to this day.
Imagine, she said, a pool of water.
It’s still and quiet.
The water is clear.
Then someone throws a large stone into the middle of the pool.
A large plop noise starts a rippling out of waves and stirring up the water and silt.
Depending on the size of the rock and the size of the pool, the ripples eventually peter out and the water returns to it’s former state of stillness.
Now to be sure, people are not pools of water.
We are infinitely more complex, what with our social connections, our moral ideals, our bodies, our feelings, and all that makes us human.
In a sense, and like that pool of water, a traumatic event disrupts our selves and our lives and ripples out, disturbing everything about ourselves.
But there are many many differences between us and a pool of water
For one thing, the pool of water will return to it’s former state.
The water will calm down and the disturbed silt will clear.
In a few minutes the water will appear as it did before: pristine and still.
For us though there is no going back. We are people and we are constantly adding new chapters to our unfolding lives.
While the water will appear as though nothing happened to it, we will carry the wounds of trauma forward and they will seep into every nick and cranny of who we are.
While there is no way to turn back the clock, there is still hope.
Recovery from trauma allows us to take back control of our lives and to live them in the light of our deepest dreams.