If we recall our experiences of life-traumas, we can be forgiven for thinking that every physical trauma, such as an accident, needs to have a positive outcome and in particular, one of the goals is a return to normal or, the way things were before the trauma. Experience and study show us however that there is no going back to the way things were. Even a broken small finger can lead to uncontrollable entire body pain that can descend into deep emotional trauma until we discover why the broken finger led to darkness. Once we make the connection between the finger and the darkness, we can begin to understand why there can be no return to what we thought of as our ground zero.
Please understand that I am not talking about abuse situations here. Nor am I talking about the broken finger of a psychologically healthy person. Yet I am talking about trauma as a trigger that can release psychological wrath on unsuspecting humans. A long episode from my own experience highlights the point.
You can also see a video conversation about this in the video below.
A Beautiful Spring Evening
The sun was setting over the River Maas in the south of The Netherlands as I skated along a bike path toward home. The sunset was one of those that are easily remembered; stunning. We see many beautiful sunsets so, what do I really remember? The small hill, I was skating down toward a bridge over a Maas tributary, the parents and daughter crossing the bridge toward me. The Maas to my right is very wide and the reflection of the sun has painted an incredible scene. The poplar trees along the river are very tall and still, there is no wind. My memories of the scene are vivid, yet my powerful mind suppressed and buried much of what followed.
I have no recollection of the pain, only my mind tells me that it hurt when one of my roller blades found a dip in the ground. I fell backwards, hit my head on the concrete, saw a flash of light and kicked my left knee with my right skate. The detail does not get any better than that.
Following examination at the emergency room, the diagnosis was a tibia plateau fracture. Hip to toe plaster for six-weeks followed by some physiotherapy and light pain medication would get me back on my skates. A straightforward system to healing and return to work insight. It wasn’t going to take long to get back to normal and I was happy in a way because I would get paid leave from work and time at home with my family for a few weeks.
My joy began to fade when a physiotherapist declared that there was no progress and there were signs of symptoms that should not have been there despite the fact that the fracture had healed after six-weeks as predicted. I knew that the physiotherapist was right to be concerned before she said anything, yet I stayed silent, trusting the process.
The physio’s concerns initiated a cascade of in-patient and out-patient interventions. One surgery on the knee, intravenous treatments, injections of anesthesia to the spine, progressively stronger medications that resulted in 250mg patches of fentanyl and other opioid medications. Unknown to me, I quickly became an addict. This was my new normal.
I became a passenger in life and my family were considerably affected although nobody ever gave them care or attention except a few friends. I was the dependent patient.
After less than six-months, I could no longer walk, much of my left-side stopped working. I slept during the day, hardly at night. A doctor told me that I would never walk again. My intuition said otherwise although that remains anecdotal.
One year after the accident, my employer retired me on medical grounds. Years of academic study, hours worked for the love of the job and a great salary with benefits gone at the stroke of a pen. I felt bitter and lost. Gave so much for what?
The medical system continued to cascade. Still, there were some “traditional” interventions but slowly therapists replaced these. “I fractured my knee for goodness’ sake, what is going on”? Added to that, as a qualified psychologist, psychologists were treating me. That was difficult to manage and accepting their professional input was far from easy.
We often talked about getting back on track. Whatever that meant. Nobody ever looked at the time before the accident. It never occurred to me. I had left out a huge portion of life from my thinking. In fact, I didn’t even recognize that everything had started there, and I cleverly avoided it by becoming a workaholic. Nothing else mattered until I met my partner and we eventually started our family. I was so “up” when we met that I failed to see the heavy black baggage that I’d carried around for several years.
The pain and medication addiction continued its course. I treated it as an outsider looking in. It didn’t belong to me and I often found myself saying, “this is not my pain, we have to get rid of it”. Until one day in a pain management group, a doctor asked a simple question.
“Why do you have pain”?
My initial response bordered on the rude and I regretted my words although he said it was OK. “You know why I have pain! I fractured my knee”. I was frustrated and angry, those were not my only words. Yet in the exchange that followed, I started to realize and eventually accepted that much of my situation had been born in psychological trauma that started well before the accident and as I said earlier, I cleverly avoided it by becoming a workaholic.
Discovering The Emotional in The Physical
Healthcare professionals would ask: “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being minimal and 10 being the worst possible; where do you place your pain levels right now”? My honest answer was never less than 7; sometimes I confounded the professional with a 15 response. There was physical evidence too. Swelling, purple knees and hands, painful stiffness, frequent migraine . . . How could any of this be anything but a physical problem? I saw the physical evidence each time I saw my hands.
Depression and additional medication to manage that became an additional diagnosis. It was hardly surprising that depression manifested, my physical body caused immense pain and wasn’t healing. It was affecting my family in a big way too and that alone was difficult to manage. Nobody offered them any help.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
You can read about CBT here. It was through CBT that my experience began to change after that doctor asked why and seeing and hearing my response, referred me to a CBT specialist who gently hit me with the hard questions that led to this meaningful life I have today. She took me on a journey from the inside out. It was not a comfortable experience by any stretch of the imagination and in retrospect, nothing we uncovered came as any surprise as I transitioned from pain I considered to be alien to accepting that the pain was mine and there were things I could do to change things.
I began to understand that the adversity that came out of the journey was showing me that it was time to move on and I would be stronger as a result.
Theory To Practice
You have just read the “short-version” of my story and I chose to omit the psychological and therapy theory and practices that are inherent throughout. What my experience did encourage was to realize that I had a “new normal”, an exciting and positive new that I could use to my advantage and one that could provide value to other people. This is why ExGro was born where my business partner, clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg, and I work to enable our clients to discover their new normal by using our own experience to relate our psychology and personal development training to our practice.
The human experience and our traumas should be understood and worked with as a whole. Our focus is on the health of the entire body and mind. Not just specific parts of the body or experience. When we consider holistic health, we are looking beyond the physical body to address physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health.
This is not a one approach fits all process. Every individual is unique and the support they need must be individually tailored to their needs, not a recipe to lead back to a ground zero of the past. This is why we offer flexible packages or a healthy mixture of several.
One to One
This is the more traditional of our approaches where client and coach work together during a number of sessions. Before any work is undertaken here, a free assessment session of at least 20-minutes is held to determine whether there is a good fit between client and coach and how much time might be required. If it is agreed that there is not a good fit, alternatives will be offered. If we suggest that 10-sessions are required and positive progress is made after 4-sessions for example, the number of sessions will be reduced as appropriate.
One to Two
This is a unique process that also begins with a free assessment. Once agreed, the client receives a live two-hour session with two coaches present. The value of this is that both coaches are experienced but bring different yet complimentary perspectives and clear methods of positive action.
Led by two coaches, small groups (maximum 10 people) explore and discover solutions for specific issues as advertised by ExGro. This is particularly beneficial for people who may not require personal coaching although they have recognized that there are specific areas of life where they wish to make changes or improve.
These groups are not “open door” and all prospective participants will be briefly interviewed to determine their needs and to make sure they will be a good fit for the group.
These are offered live or via applications such as Zoom where presentations about specific topics are made. Such topics are offered based on our research with clients or can be negotiated by external event organizers.
Responding in the comments section of this post with your questions is a secure method of contacting us. Your comments will never be published unless they are of a non-personal nature. Alternatively, you can email Steve Costello at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Leo Faerberg at Leofaerberg@gmail.com
or contact us via direct messaging on Facebook .
Coaching and Tools That Help
Relating to these there are plenty of tools that can help with your Personal Growth and Development whether you feel challenged or just seek to advance the way you respond to your world and expand your success. Please leave your contact details in the comments and you will receive a prompt response. Alternatively, you can send an email. Please understand that your contact details will never be shared outside ExGro or published on this website. Confidentiality is always assured.
If you would like to know more about ExGro Coaching Services and Events, please click over to the Education For Life menu item.
Comments and Questions
Leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience coaching in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, and friend, Leo Faerberg.
Leo is also a qualified psychologist with additional training in Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology. He has over 20-years experience.