Don’t Tell Me How to Cope with Trauma!

*Cue Amy Poehler for the title*

One of the most ignorant things a person can do is assume that their own experience is the rule to live by in life. That they are the example everyone else should follow and while they do this they completely ignore that everyone is at a different place in their life. Some people are still having bad days, are surrounded by people who do not have their best interests at heart, have traumatic past experiences that are continually challenging them to reevaluate their life and are ever evolving because life is not as simple as “bad things happen, now move on.”

I am not a regular reader of Manolo for the Big Girl but when I was linked to this article by someone who was trying to use it as an example of fat women playing the victim when faced with discrimination while dating I immediately saw red.

Maybe that’s because in my travel across the fatosphere I’ve run into a lot of mawkish pity parties written by women in the permanent victim mode, those unfortunate souls unable or unwilling do the work required to move on from their teenage angst and so every human interaction is an affirmation of their deeply engrained flawed belief that they are not worthy of love, that everyone hates them or looks down on them because they’re fat and that their mother/father/seventh-grade boyfriend was right all along.
I have empathy for those girls, but at the same time I secretly want to shake them and say “Maybe you don’t have friends because you’re a total downer. No one likes a sadsack, regardless of the size of said sack. Get thee to a therapist and work that sh*t out. Then let’s have gin and tonics.”

Aside from the fact that this writer is coming into a community that I tend to get pretty mama bear about, I also find it really frustrating that they are basically writing a blog post that is allowing for people to excuse away prejudice. This whole “If fat women just felt better about themselves then people wouldn’t treat them badly” isn’t something I want to promote or condone in any way.

No one has the right to tell another person how to cope with trauma. No one has the right to tell another person how they should feel about their experiences or how they should live their life. No one has the right to make judgments on another person’s life because they feel like they know everything about them.

The whole idea that someone just moves past childhood trauma and they are free from their experiences is bullshit. Sure it might work for some people but the reality is that trauma shapes who you are. You don’t just move past trauma, you cope with trauma, you allow for it to be part of you or you don’t because people get to decide how they deal with their own life and the trauma that goes along with it. I also hate that people think that trauma only happens when you are a child and that we do not continually face traumatic experiences on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Traumatic experiences can happen to a person regardless of their age or how they feel about themselves, how they deal or cope with the past trauma in their life etc.

Let this be a lesson. Never assume that your experience is the only valid experience and if you are going to criticize someone for how they deal with their traumatic experiences at least think about how your words are going to be used to cause more trauma in the lives of others. Think about how your words are going to make people feel silenced because they don’t live up to your grand expectations of how they should live their lives.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me How to Cope with Trauma!

  1. The whole idea that someone just moves past childhood trauma and they are free from their experiences is bullshit. Sure it might work for some people but the reality is that trauma shapes who you are. You don’t just move past trauma, you cope with trauma, you allow for it to be part of you or you don’t because people get to decide how they deal with their own life and the trauma that goes along with it. I also hate that people think that trauma only happens when you are a child and that we do not continually face traumatic experiences on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Traumatic experiences can happen to a person regardless of their age or how they feel about themselves, how they deal or cope with the past trauma in their life etc.

    This. What a lovely post.

  2. SO good. Thank you.

    I catch myself wondering often if my fat is currently hurting my chances of [finding a job, getting an apartment, getting invited somewhere, etc.], and then I think “Is this warped thinking? Maybe if I didn’t think like this, I could avoid discrimination”, but it’s not MY fault that these thoughts are embedded into my consciousness, and I can’t just think them away, even if it would help me. They also aren’t necessarily wrong; there IS discrimination out there.

  3. Pardon my French, but what a fucking asshole (the person is who wrote that post you quoted). I suffer from chronic low-level depression and the absolute worst thing anyone has ever said to me was when a “friend” told me to get over it because no one likes depressed people. Stop worrying that no one likes you because no one likes people who do that, i.e. you!

    Also, therapists are not magical unicorns that erase these problems. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy and got very little out of it. I don’t have a ton of money to waste right now, and I’m swimming in economic privilege, so imagine how it would be for someone who isn’t. So “get thee to a therapist” is really really unhelpful.

    Thank you for being a counter to these unhelpful jerks.

  4. I agree with you, including the part about trauma not being limited to one’s childhood.

    Here’s what I don’t understand. If I were to tell everyone, “I had a great childhood. My parents had a happy marriage, they encouraged and supported me, and we had a close family,” people would respond that having a solid childhood is vital to a stable adulthood, that I should cherish those memories and show my gratitude to my parents. It’s pretty much the basis of Mother’s and Father’s Days– remembering the great job your parents did.

    If, on the other hand, I said I had a horrific childhood and my parents abused me, the same people would reply that I should “just get over it”. Now.

    Why is that a happy childhood is to be remembered as fundamental to one’s development, but a person with a horrific childhood is supposed to magically attain amnesia?

  5. YES!! I read that piece and was so fucking angry. It reeks of privilege and sounds like a petulant child complaining that they can’t have their way. I read MFTBG only for Twistie’s posts now, if I see they are by the other writer, I remove them from my reader. I’m sick of the snark, the judgement, the entitled, privileged attitude.

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