On (Not) Writing Your Trauma

A Trauma-Informed Personal Trainer’s Approach To Sharing Your Story Thoughtfully

Laura Khoudari

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Inside my copy of Lifting Heavy Things

I spend a lot of time reading and writing about trauma because I am a trauma practitioner, educator, and writer. My book, Lifting Heavy Things: Healing Trauma One Rep at a Time, is a guide to turning any movement practice into a healing practice. It combines personal narrative, research, and practical exercises. Despite being both niche and cross-genre, It reached number one on Amazon’s “Pain Management” and “Weight Training” lists and was among the top ten books for “Healing.” It was featured by NPR and has garnered international attention and support from trauma and fitness organizations. And yet, the thing that one might expect to find in this kind of book — my personal trauma story, the reason for my coming to this work and keeping up with it for seven years — is nowhere to be found. Instead, my trauma story takes up all of two characters, set against a beautiful blank page:

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There is a lot of value in sharing one’s trauma story in a safe way with people you trust. But that kind of disclosure is not my approach to teaching and coaching from a trauma-informed way, so I felt no need to change my routine in the context of a book. In that sense, I’ve come to attribute the book’s success in a large part to the fact that I am authentic to my practice in my writing, and hopefully recreate what it might feel to have a movement practice with those elements.

What Happens Without A Trauma Informed Approach

Bringing a trauma-informed approach to all my work is imperative because I am teaching people who are coping with trauma about trauma itself; the very word “trauma” tends to stir up feelings that can be dysregulating to anyone. When that happens, a reader or client won’t be able to take in the information they are seeking from me because that nervous system dysregulation reduces their capacity for critical thought.

Have you ever read a book or even a social media post that hit close to home and suddenly found it hard to focus or afterwards felt like you must go straight to sleep? Those are signs of being overwhelmed by the experience of reading.

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Laura Khoudari

Trauma-informed personal trainer and author of Lifting Heavy Things.