Who is Allowed to Dictate Your Trauma?

Caterina Sullivan
5 min readSep 28, 2021

I’ve heard throughout my life that I need to understand and accept my trauma.

At first, I would sort of just nod and smile and put it on the very last page of my incredibly long mental to-do list.

After a while, I started questioning this in a bit more depth.

“Why do I need to accept my trauma?”

“What does accepting my trauma mean?”

“How does one go about accepting one’s trauma?”

“What makes people think I need to accept my trauma?”

The response to these questions was always interesting. Cloaked in vagueness and obscurity, I never felt like I received a proper response.

My understanding of the trauma I have been through is that I am as at peace with it as humanly possible.

Over a period of self-reflection, I’ve understood that the way I deal with my trauma is through a somewhat dark sense of humour. This is how I best cope, and it’s worked well for me to date. I wouldn’t recommend this coping technique to everyone because understanding and accepting trauma does not have a one-size-fits-all approach.

The people who are close to me can identify that the only way they know for sure that I have dealt with and accepted my trauma is through this same sense of humour. To others who don’t know me as well, it would be easy to assume that I haven’t dealt with my trauma. Which then begs the question: if they don’t know me well enough to understand the idiosyncrasies of my personality, why are they trying so hard to psychoanalyse me?

A common topic that gets questioned as to how I’ve really coped with it is my illness over the past few years.

Being honest and upfront about my brain tumour, strokes and eventual brain surgery is often met with a raised eyebrow. For whatever reason, people think that me talking about this is over-sharing. When I question whether or not they would be as uncomfortable if I were talking about knee or wrist surgery, it’s met with silence.

It comes down to the perceived trauma they believe I felt while going through my health battle.

Brain surgery would be way more traumatic in most people’s eyes than a simple wrist…

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Caterina Sullivan

Chief Executive | Business Founder | Change Agent | Inspirational Leader | High Achiever | Role Model | Award-Winner