Trauma, Truth & Trust

I am exhausted, sitting on the sofa. My friend ever so gently picks up one of my feet and strokes it softly. His tenderness and love flowing into me make my heart burst open. The trauma I am holding in my cells is triggered instantly.

The trauma of the cancer and of Steve’s murder – everything is still there in my body; vibrating, ready for the cue to jump into emotional action. With my foot being touched and held I cry, and a cascade of words pours out of me. I speak about fear, pain, anxiety, and the unknown. How long will it take, I wonder, to dissolve the trauma, to release that energy? Will it ever be over, really?

In a local café I talk to a woman, a tourist from Australia, who was attacked walking along the road. Two guys approached on a motorcycle, one got off the bike and threatened her with a knife. She tried to defend herself, but he was much stronger than her, snatched her backpack, jumped back on the motorbike and they drove off.

When I hear that story, my response is twofold: first, ice-cold fear throbs in my body – I am not safe. My adrenaline pulses. What would I do if that happened to me? Mind you, I think to myself, I am always with Coco. (But then, being with Coco didn’t help Steve.)

Secondly, and more intensely, I feel this wave of dark heavy dread rising up the back of my neck. Steve was also attacked as he was walking along; an ordinary day, a harmless innocent man with his dog. I imagine that Steve probably did not defend himself, mainly because everything happened so quickly.

Before I know it, hot tears spring into my eyes, my breathing becomes laborious and fast, and my impulse is to RUN, away, away from this café, away from this story, away, just away. But I continue sitting there at the table, holding on to my mug, listening to her, hearing about her feeling so violated, of her fear for her life. It is tough to stay there, and only several hours later am I able to release the energy that bubbled up, and reestablish my equilibrium.

Since the cancer and Steve’s murder, my outlook on the future has changed completely. I used to think that I would get old and then die one day. Now, I don’t know anymore. Right now I am on my way to Denmark to be with my family. The last time I packed up everything and left my home (almost to the day two years ago), I thought I was coming back a few months later, cured of cancer, to live happily with Steve in paradise. But it wasn’t to be. It took 17 months to get back here, and everything was different. Now I am afraid.

The ‘not knowing’ what the future holds is very present for me. It flows in my veins with every heartbeat. I bid farewell to my friends as if I’m never going to see them again. I make sure that all my affairs are in order. I look at everything as if I was looking at it for the last time. I take it in fully. Who knows, the cancer might come back. I might die. The plane might crash. The world could end. I could get murdered. Anything is possible.

Some might think I have gone crazy. “Of course you’re not going to die, Lokita“, they say. I wonder myself, have I gone crazy? Do I have a negative outlook on the future? Am I pessimistic, morbid, and living in fear, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy?

No. The trauma somehow has unleashed the truth. And by “truth” I mean the reality of life and death. This is everyone’s reality; we just forget about it as the moments of our life pass by, day by day, hour after hour. I cannot do that anymore. People have suggested it to me before, and I am slowly beginning to see that perhaps the traumatic experiences serve some kind of spiritual purpose for me.

Early on in my cancer treatment, Steve and I were at a Dharma Talk at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. The teacher talked about post traumatic growth and facing adversity. At the time it sounded like a great concept. Who has ever heard of that – post traumatic growth! I liked the word play, and of course, it made complete sense. Until it was my turn for trauma.

We were asked to tell the person sitting next to us how we would deal with intense adversity and seemingly insurmountable difficulties. I told Steve that my way would be trust, and explained it to him. Not the personal, conditional trust; not even trusting that everything, somehow, is right, that life or God or fate have their own mysterious ways. Rather, trust as the ever-present flavor of life. Trust that is everything, that is both passive and vibrantly active, that defies surrender, conditions, and personal motivation. Trust that is simply there. It is like a shift in consciousness, perhaps even an awakening.

I often think back to that inquiry, especially now that I am living it.  Trust has been the red thread through the past two years. That combined with all the deep work I have been doing, alone, with my friends, my family, and with my exquisite therapist – processing, meditating, observing the mind, crying, releasing, expressing, accepting – has been amazing and so helpful in my healing process.

There are many approaches and methods to heal from trauma, and to move beyond it. For me, the simple, inevitable truth of life and death, carried on the wings of all-pervading trust, is one of the most powerful.

And it is liberating all-around.

“Trust itself is such a blessing, such an ecstasy in itself! Once you have tasted it within yourself you would like to taste it in the whole cosmos. If it is so great just within you, how much greater it will be when you trust everything. […]

When the rose opens, its fragrance starts flowing all around. It is not addressed to anyone in particular. If the king passes by he will receive it; if a beggar passes by he will receive it. If a thief passes by he will receive it. If a murderer passes by he will receive it. For the rose it makes no difference who is receiving it.

Trust is the fragrance of a silent, peaceful being. Let me remind you: Trust is the fragrance of nothingness.” ~Osho, From Death to Deathlessness

36 replies
  1. Holly and Brian
    Holly and Brian says:

    The trauma of the times we live in weighs heavily upon me, and I imagine, many of us. Your sharing your process is deep medicine for me, Lokita. Thank you. I love you…

  2. Judi Finney
    Judi Finney says:

    I am hoping for you that you will find great comfort in being with your loving family. I hold a picture of you, with your sister I believe, on your last visit with your family. You are licking an ice cream cone and grinning like an innocent child. I hope that you have many of those moments of sweet abandonment on your journey. Blessings.

  3. Shannon Williams
    Shannon Williams says:

    Thank you for your honesty and inspiration. I think of you and Steve (& Coco) often with fondness! Wishing you all the love and comfort!

    • Lokita Carter
      Lokita Carter says:

      Thank you, Shannon. I did receive your email also, a long time ago, and although I did not reply, I truly appreciated it <3

  4. ane takaha
    ane takaha says:

    Lokita, thanks for keeping in touch with us. Prayers for peace and deep breaths – especially the out breath. I understand the arrogance we live with and don’t know about until it is shattered. Does it come back – this going “back to sleep” belief that we can take safety for granted? Yes it does. Ideally I prefer a state of wakeful trust that you speak of. Love to you.

  5. Susan Pascal Beran
    Susan Pascal Beran says:

    You are a winged wonder, dear Lokita. I often approach your posts with trepidation, afraid of the hugeness of the pain and trauma, like you with the woman in the cafe, ready to run away. But always, having read through, often (as now) with tears running down my face, I feel as if you have lifted my burden and given light. Rainbow woman. <3

  6. linda zimmerman
    linda zimmerman says:

    So much beauty in Denmark and you there will make it just a little more beautiful. Thank you for another lesson in living…

  7. Inika Spence-Whaley
    Inika Spence-Whaley says:

    I love you Lokita.. You are always in my heart. Thank you for your writing. This one touched me deeply.

  8. Sara Firman
    Sara Firman says:

    Oh, how I wish you didn’t have to carry this load and yet even as you do you bring us all roses that don’t discriminate good or bad. It’s a real gift Lokita. Thank you.

  9. Suzanne Wagner
    Suzanne Wagner says:

    I think this one is my favorite one so far. I could totally taste and relate to the depth of trust you are experiencing. While I may not know exactly that depth you are presently in. I feel its wisdom gathering energy within my soul as tools for future experiences. Thank you.

  10. Lourdes
    Lourdes says:

    Lokita, I hear all levels of your truth and trust process. Thanks you for sharing as your journey is always a reminder for me on how to be present to everything that comes our way. I wanted to ask you if you have considered doing EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique; tapping.) It’s powerful in releasing emotional trauma. I know a good friend and therapist who specializes on EFT and can do it via Skype. Just a thought. Enjoy your time in Denmark with your sister.

  11. Diane
    Diane says:

    Thank you, again,dear Lokita for inviting us into this with you—and so eloquently and authentically. I was just thinking about you on a walk yesterday, so really appreciate the contact.

  12. Erica Heimberg
    Erica Heimberg says:

    I greatly appreciate your honest sharing about walking through the monumental losses and changes you have faced, and how you live with the sense of mortality that arisen. Your words create pathways that help me understand my own experiences. Thank you.

  13. Donna
    Donna says:

    Beautiful Lokita. Thank you for this. There is so much liberation in trust. I know this but it is so easy to forget. When I am not feeling well I will try to remember the metaphor of the rose.

  14. Christina
    Christina says:

    Thank you for putting into words your daily experience of life. A life on the edge. A life informed by death. Our vulnerability always . The brevity of our life. Death as the sword that cuts off the fringe benefits and returns us to the essence. Love….life…trust…pain…vulnerability..strength. love you so much. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Le'ema
    Le'ema says:

    Just love this! So powerful and potent and vulnerable and tender!
    Gosh what a long way you have come and you just keep going! Such an inspiration and healing you are for us all!

  16. Allyson
    Allyson says:

    Thank you for sharing these posts. I think they resonate for a lot of people who read them. I am reminded of a couple of things, this morning. I just read your post, “I already died” and really appreciated it. That made me think of some Emily Dickinson poems. Her poems can be a bit opaque, but nonetheless she seems to convey a deep sense of emotion or being that is difficult to express using regular words. The two poems I looked at today: “A fly buzzed when I died” and “It was not death, for I stood up”. The other thing I am reminded of is Harry Potter (a very deep and spiritual set of books, especially as you get to the last ones). There are animals, “thestrals,” that can only be seen by people who have witnessed death. The young children cannot usually see them. Harry, and at least one of his friends, can though, during trauma they experienced earlier.

    At any rate, thank you again for your lovely writing and honesty and generosity to share.

  17. Sue Tobias
    Sue Tobias says:

    Lokita- I love the picture of the open flower. Reading your words I can smell the fragrance- and then sense the fragrance dissolve into nothingness……..and trust.
    Love, Sue

  18. Kim Stanley
    Kim Stanley says:

    Dear Lokita, you ARE doing your life work..healing all of your followers here with your words of wisdom, your direct experience, though we would all have our own unique one in your similar situation, you give us all a glimpse, a raw and heartfelt plunge for that matter, of what lies inside of a human spirit that has had a soul -raising experience..ahhh, I am taking it in, and it reminds us all of our ephemeral existence! LOVE and hugs….Kim

  19. Debra DeAngelo
    Debra DeAngelo says:

    Oh, Lokita… you have been through so much trauma, and it sounds like you are in the throes of PTSD. I had a bought with PTSD when the girl who worked in the next office was murdered on the doorstep to our office. It took a couple months before the shock turned into PTSD. My doctor recommended “tapping” therapy, EFT I believe it’s called. It sounds NUTS… but it was so effective. It retrains your brain to find calm… defuses the wild, out of control thoughts and feelings…
    You are having severe anxiety, and anxiety happens when you are existing in the future… “What MIGHT happen….” Having had PTSD, I’ve discovered that re-learning to be in the present is very helpful. The present is a much safer place than the future.
    I have also found therapy horses to be very, very effective with relieving anxiety, and I’d be happy to bring you to him if you wish. And, I will also stroke your foot.
    I love you so… regardless of all you’ve been through…. you are still a shining star to me. After all that has happened, I am blessed to know you and to have known Steve.
    All my love and support to you. xoxoxo

    • Lokita Carter
      Lokita Carter says:

      Thank you for your comments, Debra <3 The good thing is that the trauma triggers are getting less and less. I am actually very good at being in and returning to the present moment. I tried the tapping method, but it didn't do that much for me. My niece in Denmark has a horse I like, and I will make a point to go visit with her often. All is well. <3 Love to you and your beloved.

  20. Anne
    Anne says:

    What a fine post, Lokita; it resonates with me. I too have trauma that is easily triggered, and keeps me aware of the very thin membrane between the outer illusion that all is sunny and promising and the ferocious reality that can strike at any moment – ANY moment. Your friends were mistaken, though kindly – of course you are going to die; you just don’t know when. It COULD be on the plane, it could be walking innocently down the sidewalk…..this is the truth I feel so conscious of, that my psyche fearfully veers away from, peeks at from the side and then dives away from, under the covers, insisting, “But not now!” As I struggle with this, I have finally come to a place where I feel it is OK for me to just surrender consciously and accept “All is well right this moment” instead of bracing myself for what next terrible event might come, since I don’t think the bracing better equips me to face it; why don’t I just cross that bridge when I come to it? I have for years mis-remembered a Gandhi quote as “Act as if you are going to live forever and as if you are going to die tomorrow” and funnily, I have held this mangled quote as kind of a guidance, struggling to encompass both sides of that paradox. I think you know this struggle better than many, and I appreciate that you are generously shedding light on it with honesty and realness in your posts; thank you for that.


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