Yes, you can recover from trauma

It wasn’t until the phone rang that he realized it was well past three o’clock. School was out and he was late for picking up his daughter ­— it was her cell number on the call display.

“I am thankful for my past because it has pushed me to reach a higher level of consciousness and a deeper awareness of who I am.”

— Coral Anika Theill, author of Bonshea: Making Light of the Dark

It wasn’t until the phone rang that he realized it was well past three o’clock. School was out and he was late for picking up his daughter ­— it was her cell number on the call display.

“Sorry, kiddo. I’m on my way — I lost track of time.”

“Don’t worry about it, Dad. I’m halfway home already.”

“Where are you now? Can I meet you somewhere?”

“I’m down by the river, on the walking path near the bridge. It’s really warm —”

What sounded like a stifled scream was followed by silence. Confused, he hit redial. The phone rang four times and went to voicemail. He tried again with the same result. The third time the call went through and the response sent cold waves of fear through his body.

“Daddy!” a voice shrieked and the phone fell silent.

Nothing is more terrifying to a parent than knowing that his or her child is in trouble and being helpless to do anything about it. He was now profoundly, overwhelmingly terrified.

He tried the redial again and then again, pleading for his daughter to answer the phone. Then his phone rang. It was her. She was hyperventilating and sobbing uncontrollably.

When he learned that she was on the bridge he bolted from the house and piled into his car — frantically dialing 911 as he drove.

Later at the police station, he heard how an unidentified male had come out of the bushes and grabbed his daughter from behind, knocking the phone from her hand.

His intentions were obvious as he unzipped his pants. Realizing the hopelessness of overpowering her aggressor, she bit him — hard. The grip loosened and she bit him again — this time on the neck.

Startled, his pants fell to his ankles and he tripped. Seizing the opportunity, she snatched up her cellphone and ran.

She had enough time to scream into the phone when it rang before stumbling and severing the connection.

When she reached the safety of the bridge, she called her father. Despite an exhaustive search by RCMP officers with dogs, an artist’s rendering and support from the local media, the perpetrator was never caught.

I share this traumatic story for two reasons: first, it’s true and second, it demonstrates the unpredictability of life.

By definition, trauma is an intense physical, emotional or psychological injury, usually resulting from an extremely stressful or life-threatening situation. Though traumas may take only seconds to unfold, the emotions generated can take years to overcome.

I’m not going to suggest that healthy self-esteem will guarantee a quick, full and painless recovering from trauma — that would irresponsible and untrue.

In fact, trauma can damage our self-esteem and make us question our beliefs and values — derailing our personal growth.

There is evidence, however, that suggests people with poor self-esteem and a distorted self-image find overcoming trauma more difficult due to overwhelming feelings of guilt and pre-existing notions of deservability and self-worth.

Such individuals may feel that they “deserved” the experience because they are inherently bad or flawed.

Anger turns inward as self-loathing prompts nagging questions.

Did I make this happen? What could or should I have done to prevent it from happening? Why didn’t I fight back? Was it my fault? Did I deserve it?

As a result of the incessant doubt, such individuals tend to be less willing to seek out or accept help when offered.

Yes, sometimes our actions and choices place us in traumatic situations.

Other times, we are simply a random participant in a frightening and regretful event.

Either way, it’s important to remember that although we may have had little or no control over the event, we are in complete control of our response to it and therefore can affect the eventual outcome.

We’ve all gone through traumas, and I know from experience that without a perceptual shift we can easily become mired in a world of fear, guilt and anguish.

By perceptual shift, I mean we must reach a point where we integrate the event into our lives — that is, accept the reality of it and use the event as a building block rather than a battering ram.

That’s not easy — it takes time, courage and ongoing support and the acknowledgement that we’re not in this alone.

The late Austrian medical doctor and psychologist Alfred Adler once wrote, “No experience is a cause of success or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences, so-called trauma, but we make out of them just what suits our purposes.”

Recovering from trauma — even with good self-esteem — is truly a journey from a place of darkness and fear back to a place of light and love.

The better your self-esteem, the more able you are to navigate through all of the challenging and sometimes traumatic events life presents you with.

If you’re suffering from the post-traumatic stress of a frightening event, recent or in the distant past, please seek help.

The RCMP has an excellent program that provides counselling and assistance following a traumatic event and is available to you at no charge.

Canadian Mental Health has a variety of exceptional programs as well.

Call your local RCMP detachment for details or contact Canadian Mental Health through the website at for the office nearest you.

Can we truly be thankful for our past — every aspect of it? My daughter is working to reach that place, and so am I.

Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was administered to seniors, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. A second COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated for possible links to blood clots, though the syndrome appears to be extremely rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
Canada receives report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

OTTAWA — A Quebec woman is the first in Canada to develop… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

An internal investigation by AHS revealed 3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly by two clerical employees in the diagnostic imaging department at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Employees access 3K patients’ records in privacy breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

The Red Deer Boxing Club will be moving to a larger space, in North Red Deer. The programs need more room to grow, says founder Robert Carswell. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Boxing Club is moving to north industrial site

The property was rezoned to accommodate recreational uses

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Most Read