By Pamela J. Reed, MA, LPCC, CCTP
We find ourselves amid a global pandemic. We are bombarded with future projections, risks, and odds on a daily basis. We are navigating what this means for us as individuals, as families, and as communities. This experience is a trauma. In trauma, there is a distinct “before” and “after” – a demarcation that will forever be part of our memory and timelines.
Within this realm of probabilities, there is the concept of coincidence. How often have you experienced a moment wherein you thought, “what are the odds?” We meet someone at just the “right” time in our lives, or an opportunity presents itself seemingly out of nowhere. What if we looked at these coincidences as more than “odds”? What if we looked at them as possibilities? Possibilities that something greater than ourselves is trying to connect us? Carl Jung describes this phenomenon as synchronicity, or “meaningful coincidences”. What if we saw them as moments that tell us we are not alone?
The dark side of the question “what are the odds?” appears when we are in the midst of trauma and its partner, grief. We experience an event that is outside our normal, assumed expectations of life. Like now. Often when trauma strikes, the “odds” of bad things happening increases in the mind exponentially. This is the essence of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. What I have come to know in working in trauma therapy is that within trauma there is both tragedy and gifts. This is a paradox—it is difficult to hold those two words in the same space. Yet, we must. Because this is the world we live in. We will find moments of appreciation in the tragedy, and although it can be difficult to accept and produce feelings of guilt, it is the truth. There is freedom in that knowledge.
What if instead of anticipating chaos and suffering around the corner, we began to imagine the possibility that synchronistic events may show up? Suffering is, at times, the path we need in order to see ourselves as a connection to something bigger. We can sense the possibility of this through others and within ourselves. Let us open ourselves up to what may present itself to us and know that whatever it is we are experiencing; we are not alone.