On Surviving Trauma and How Things That Make Me Happy Kept/Keep Me Alive in a Unique Way

This post is going to be rather personal. It may be triggering to other trauma survivors. It’s also going to be a stream of consciousness, truly brain vomit post because, ever since the release of Pokémon Go, I’ve been triggered, like a lot. And for me to work through this, I just need to vomit.

Today, on Twitter, I went on a bit of a rant about Katy Perry’s new song. That one for the Olympics. And I saw so much criticism around it that felt an awful lot like, “You have some sort of deficit if you like this song.” And this criticism comes after so much criticism surround Pokémon Go and how dare you do something “unimportant” and “frivolous” during these times when important things are happening in the world!

But, it’s not just limited to this one video game or this one song. It’s something I see a lot around people finding happiness in bubble gum. Could be a book. Could be a movie. Could be whatever is bringing pure joy to someone.

And this criticism triggers me to no end. So much, in fact, I found myself in tears thinking back to the few times growing up that I was both safe and happy. It was a very rare thing. And those rare moments kept me alive.

Growing up, anything I liked was weaponized. The following fall under the “Mild things that happened to me during my childhood but OMG they really aren’t mild:”

Oh, your favourite colour is blue? You hate dresses? I’m going to buy your sister who behaves like a proper girl this blue dress and you must wear the matching pink one.

Oh, you won a dance scholarship and come out of your shell when you dance? You are beyond overjoyed to receive it? We are going to go away so you can’t use it. Then, years later, I’m going to say to you when I see you on stage, ‘Why did you never tell me you enjoyed dance so much and were so good at it? When did you win that scholarship??’

Oh, you like this [boy] show? Well, your sister wants to watch this [girl] show, so we’re doing that instead.

Oh, you like [insert thing here]? This is how I’m going to destroy it today. Anything you enjoy, I’m going to destroy it until you conform. I’m going to tell you all the ways in which it is inferior and not worthy of any time. Only once you behave in the manner I want you to, can you have this. But, it will still be treated with disdain because _you_ like it.

Quickly, I learned to keep anything I liked, and anything that brought me out of my not-yet-recognized ASD and trans shell as a dark, closely held secret. If I shared it, it would be ripped away from me and used to make me miserable.

After I was kicked out, I lived on the streets for a bit. Sometimes sleeping in the dirt. Other times, couch hoping. It was not a good time. During my couch hoping days, before I was finally put into foster care, I met someone who taught me a very valuable lesson; one that I still cherish to this day.

It’s kinda funny, maybe somewhat ironic, that while a lot of people look back at their teens years without fondness, I do. Even with all the crap. And it’s not about nostalgia and wanting to go back to some supposed simpler or better time. My life was far from simple or better then. Oh, man. Seriously, how am I alive?

I’m going to tell you. Someone allowed me to be happy.

I’ve written before about that one teacher who wrote notes on the back of my papers. And a few other people in positions of authority who kept me alive. For me, authority had more power than peers. But, this person was different.

Probably because there was something ‘more mature’ about them than the rest of my peers. Or maybe it was because they watched me go down some very self-destructive paths and didn’t judge–even though they worried terribly and I hurt them in some bad ways–and didn’t abandon me.

Maybe it was because I got to be a child and goofy and out of control and it was safe.

And there were a lot of other factors at play. And while I had a small handful of people I would describe as friends, there was always some part of me with which they weren’t quite comfortable. This person… I could do something completely outrageous, aka out of character, and it was okay and safe.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to worry. I didn’t have to worry that something I held dear, or was an integral part of who I was, would be weaponized.

We did things that caused a lot of people to think: WHAT THE FUCK BUTTERCUP! And it wasn’t because these things were wrong, it was because they were perhaps a little weird and childish and totally inside things that were just done no matter who was watching.

I tweeted about The Rocky Horror Picture Show and how, yes it is now considered problematic, but memories and safe experiences associate with that movie, and the ridiculous happiness that went along with it, the feeling of safety and just being and not having to hide…

Very few things in life make me ridiculously happy. Every time something does manage to make me ridiculously happy, it takes a lot of internal work to ignore the, “this thing is worthless because you like it” messaging and instead, “Remember when this happened and how it was safe and good and valid? That is the correct message.”

So when people crap on the things that allow people to safely escape the horrors of the world, I become that child and teen again, having to fight to stay alive and stop myself from being pulled under by the darkness; that person where less than five people ever told them that they mattered and what they like and who they are is valid.

My choices were: Continue drinking until I vomited in an attempt to kill myself or, escape into those bubble gum moments and just be washed over by that feeling. There was also a lot of deepness in those “bubble gum” moments.

A lot of the time, when I allow it to wash over me, people think I’m drunk or stoned. Hell, I’ve even been cut off at the bar and had to convince the server that I hadn’t had a drop to drink because, for me, the effect is the same. However, one is destructive and the other is not.

So, sure. We can talk about how our faves are problematic. There is a huge difference between, “I have a problem with Perry because of this very racist song/video for which she still hasn’t apologized” and “You have a deficit if you get joy out of this,” or “Stop expressing your joy over this thing because I don’t like it and I don’t care.”

Maybe this is the trauma talking and the fact the small joys literally kept me alive during very dark periods in my life, in contrast to the joy being forcibly ripped away from me from my parent. Maybe it’s also party due to the fact that I find pure joy to be truly infectious. There are a lot of really dark things happening in the world right now. The world may technically be safer than it once was, but because of things like social media, we see things, in real time, that we’ve never witnessed before. People are getting PTSD from it. People like me with C-PTSD are being re-traumatized daily. How about we let people have their bubble gum joys so that they remain sane and don’t turn to alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy forms of self-medicating? How about, instead of saying, “I don’t understand why you like this thing. I don’t like it so it’s not worthy,” we say, “Oh! Cool that you are finding some small joy and healthy escape! I want to also share the joy by sharing this thing that I enjoy!”

And rationally, I know that most people aren’t purposely trying to kill my small joys and thus trying to kill me. But, the effects of trauma are not rational in that it ignored intent. Intent of another person makes no difference when trauma is at play. Trauma is rational in regards to cause and effect.

And, simply, I just want people to be happy. I know all to well what it’s like not to be. And just thinking about that… I start to cry. It’s so very painful.

Just like in my teen years and those moments of entering this other weird and silly world with my best friend gave me the strength to simply breathe, today’s same “frivolities,” whether it be a cliché pop song or stickers or whatever, allow me to tackle the darker parts of my days and discuss things that “matter.”

*shrugs* I just want people to be happy and feel not feel guilty about the “bubble gum” that helps them survive the day and remain sane. Maybe one day, when I see people criticize bubble gum, it won’t be a trigger. Today is not that day.

I just want people to feel happy and safe and in a glowing pocket of pure joy.

Leave a reply