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The Lion of Trauma – How Can It Be Tamed?

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Trauma is quite overwhelming… just ask anyone who has experienced trauma! It can creep up on you without being noticed, or it can come crashing into your life like a freight train! I have tried looking at my trauma of childhood sexual abuse from many different angles… this is one of them that really impacted me, and illustrates very well what it feels like. It personifies how horrible and scary it feels to have that lion chase me… But then I can start to recognize the different turns it can take as healing progresses.

I hope this metaphor speaks to you as it has spoken to me. I hope you can find your lion tamer as you look into your own life, as you heal, as you find your own way out of this jungle! Let’s go on a safari together!

The Lion

I found a quote last year:
“PTSD is not the person refusing to let go of the past,
but the past refusing to let go of the person.” (1)

Yes, it is an intriguing quote
I feel like it fits where I am and what I feel

Recently I started to look at it slightly differently:
So, if a lion is chasing me
How can I possibly just look at him and shrug him off?
Or ignore him?
Or think that he’s just going to walk away?
My past is that lion
Those memories continually growl at me
That lion chases me, never-ending
But then he traps me
Putting his sharp claws out and showing his menacing teeth
Then he tears me up…
Leaving me lying there, wounded, broken
Bleeding where he has clawed me
It sometimes feels like he has bitten off pieces of me
… and left me for dead
He will never leave me alone
Those memories will never leave me alone


But this can’t really be the end of this story, can it? Damn! No, it’s not! I continue to work on my trauma… with my therapist, in the various support groups I attend, talking with friends, and on my own through journaling and writing poetry.

How can I possibly tame this lion? I must look inside, and figure out the strengths that I have inside me, that I need to find that will win this battle! Join me again…

The Lion Tamer

So what will it take to tame that lion?
More than what I can pull together on my own
It’ll take smarts and wit and guile
It’ll take finding that gentle little kitten inside, that little girl
The one that wants to cuddle next to her mommy
… and just spend the night purring in her paws

Can I pick myself up once again?
Can I pull together the tools that I need to wrestle with this lion?
Will my determination hold up through the challenge?
Will my resilience pick me back up after I fall – because I will fall!
Will my inner warrior hold up the shield against my fear?
Then pierce the lion’s heart with her sword until he’s dead?

Knowledge is my first weapon, understanding of the mind
Speaking the truth is my second, stating the facts at hand
Pushing away the folly of my mind, and embracing the emotions of my heart
Courage is my third weapon, bravery for me to face the unknown
I will take my fear and turn it around so it faces that lion
That he may run as scared as a frightened mouse

As I gird myself up for the challenge before me
That little girl inside me sits cowering in the corner
Terrified of the never-ending attacks from that fierce lion
Afraid of being beaten down once again
But I reassure her as she looks at me longingly
That united together we can rely on each other!

The next step is to look into the mind and the heart of that fierce lion
Because he is so fierce because he too was traumatized as a cub
… and he is reacting to the situation in front of him
Just as that little girl inside me reacts to scary situations in front of her
That at the moment seem so terrifying and unobtainable
But when we band together we will win!

I will support her and she will stay close to me
Each of us relying on the strengths of the other
Because we all carry capacities inside of us that are valuable
That we can rely on in the toughest of times to carry us through
My little girl has the love and the tenderness in her heart
I have the resilience of picking myself up through decades of life

My past may be that lion chasing me and trying to conquer me
But he will not conquer the team of my little girl and I!
With our combined passion and desire to beating that lion in this battle
Because we are now more united and stronger than ever
We will not stop until he is dead and gone
… and we have won in victory!
Together we are The Lion Tamer!

Originally published: May 21, 2022
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