If you grew up experiencing violence or repression — whether in the home, from the state, or due to poverty — you may have experienced the culture shock of being around people who had more privileged experiences. Similarly, if you’ve had a traumatic experience of some kind as an adult — sexual assault, armed conflict, or political repression — you may find that, suddenly, those whom you used to value no longer seem able to connect to you.
Trauma shapes us, whether that’s through the lingering effects of PTSD, or simply by giving us a deep knowledge of the terror and wonder of the world. These experiences can leave us unable to connect with people who have not had such harrowing experiences, including people we were previously in sync with. Trauma can also take away our feelings of safety and trust, making it difficult to connect at all.
Whatever your individual experience, it’s totally normal and okay to be having a rough time right now, including in your intimate relationships. While these relationships can be a source of tension and conflict when we are in the heat of trauma, our community bonds are ultimately a strength and source of healing.
I talked with Dr. Monique D. Walker, LMFT, founder of Queer Affirmative Therapy, about how pandemic-related trauma is affecting our interpersonal relationships — and how we can find our way back to alignment, together.