One of the hardest things about dealing with trauma is finding someone who truly understand what you are going through. There is a reason why many people seek support groups. In order to fully understand something, you need to have experienced it yourself. You may be able to imagine how it feels and you’ll most likely have compassion for the person who experienced the trauma, but you’ll never really understand what they are going through.
It reminds me of an episode of Criminal Minds. The team was investigating a child abduction and JJ was interviewing the parents. She said to the mom that she understood it was hard and the mom asked her if she had kids. JJ responded with no and the mother asked her she could possibly understand what losing a child must feel like if she doesn’t even have a child to lose. She wasn’t wrong and JJ said as much.
But, wait, why do trauma survivors want you to be more understanding then if we know you won’t understand? Well, understanding is both a noun and an adjective. I know you aren’t going to know exactly how I feel and what it’s like to experience my triggers. In that sense, you won’t understand. But, what you can do is be sympathetic and compassionate, or rather, understanding.
The thing is, I don’t want people to actually understand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice feeling when someone does get it. But, that also means they’ve been through it. In order to fully comprehend and understand what I’m going through, you’d have to go through it to. I would never WANT my loved ones to go through the traumas I’ve experienced. I don’t want you to understand. I just want you to be understanding.