Traumatic experiences

Yeah, this ought to make for a happy thread. But…it has an innocent beginning.

Bri and I are starting pre-engagement counseling (we’d rather address the premarital counseling issues before there’s a ring, date and family pressure), and while filling out the typical background info paperwork, I came across this stumper:

What are your three most traumatic life experiences?

I have no freakin’ idea how to answer that. I’d love to say “1977-1986” but that might be a little vague. As minor as it seems when studying a lifetime, my mother putting my cat down behind my back (when she wasn’t sick and I’d been promised they’d alert me to any problems) and then telling me on Thanksgiving ranks high up there, but maybe because it was only a year ago.

Now, I’m not wanting for anyone to dredge up nightmares or anything; I don’t want to cause psychological distress. But…I’m curious. Within your comfort level of sharing, how would you answer the question?

I used to think the world was against me. Now I know better. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.

Laura’s Stuff and Things

My most traumatic experience was failing a class. It was class in which half the grade was determined by being graded by the classmates in your project group. To make a long story short, my project group and I did not get along very well. There were five us total, three of whom were close friends. They hated my ideas when I suggested them, but usually one of them would suggest the same thing a few minutes later and it would be adopted happily.

Anyway, our group project was adjudged second best in the class, but I didn’t get very many points for it. Everyone doled out percentages to everyone in their group, so the fewer points you gave someone (Boris) the more points you had for you and your friends. That, combined with a lousy mid-term grade (35% of the overall grade), gave me a big fat F.

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

Coming home LATE from a class to find my dog had tried to climb out of his pen, only to get hung up and strangled, still warm but lifeless. <sniff>


Oh yeah,
My first Solo :slight_smile:

Watching my dog get hit by a car, then sitting in the middle of the street, cradling it in my arms and crying my eyes out is definitely one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever gone through, but it’s not the worst. The worst is telling my husband (now ex-husband) that I was pregnant, with his response being to slam me to the ground and kick me in the stomach repeatedly. I miscarried a few hours later. Why I stayed with him for another two years is a question I still cannot answer to this day.

“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with
great ambitions.”

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

::horribly depressing story to follow::

My mother suffered a brain hemmorhage on December 21, 1995. We were on vacation here in Sanibel from Cincinnati then, and she was just about to get out of bed, when she fell on the floor and found she couldn’t get back up. We called 911, and she was rushed to the ER. She spent 4 weeks in the hospital, and she’s still going to physical therapy today. It wouldn’t be so bad, but every time she falls or hurts herself, it’s a million steps into the past, and she’s in terrible pain. She’s broken her ribs multiple times since then. The doctors can’t do anything for her, and all we can do is hope that she will eventually regain all of her muscle control on her left side. She can walk now with a cane, but she has botox injections every other week in her leg just to keep her leg from spasming. I can only hope that she can stay healthy enough for a longer period of time that she might recover…

Sorry to make everyone sad.

Disconnecting my mother from the life support machines after she had a massive stroke.

t lion

Easy for me.
1- having major spinal surgery at age 20. Wow.
2- getting married young and dumb. double Wow.
3- seeing my now husband (the absolute love of my life) in the middle of the road not moving after getting hit on his motorcycle. (he turned out reletively OK, but my blood literally went ice cold and I screamed and blubbered and ranted and threatened to kill someone when I first got there.- kinda traumatic, I guess)

A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re as ugly as a hat full of assholes.

The death of my Father when I was 14.

The death of one of my best friends last year.

And going to Court for shoplifting.


“Vyvyan! Where did you get that Howitzer?” “…I found it.”

The Legend Of PigeonMan - updates every Wed & Sat

Oh my god…I think my most traumatic experience was reading Shadowfox’s post! That is so awful! (not that anyone else’s wasn’t, but my GOD!)

holding each of my parents in my arms as they were dying

the loss of a child

the fact that i gave out all the good halloween candy first tonite sigh

We are, each of us angels with only one wing;
and we can only fly by
embracing one another

Not in any order…

Having very scary major surgery when I was 16. It left me w/ a fear and loathing of hospitals and doctors that linger to this day. Further experience w/ my father and mother’s ultimate death only strenghtend the resolve: I’ll die at home or in a gutter, not in a hospital.

Oh, yes, Lion–honoring my mother’s wishes and eschewing life support measures that would have preserved her physical life, and agony.

And my dad’s death (cancer, expected a a mericiful release) but more specifically his observances after death…

(Warning: the following turns high trauma into low comedy…ain’t that the way?)

Dad died and his last wishes were quite specific: no embalming, cremation w/ cardboard “casket” and my sister and I to scatter his ashes in a place in the country the at held meaning. This pissed off the “funeral director” no end: very low profit margin. So we identified “the body” 3 times in 3 days before cremation…and listened, light headed, to ominous warnings about “cremains” and “identifiable matter”.

(Note: I’m a lapsed anthro who rather excelled in human osteology. It’s one thing to zestfully identify human characteristics in bone fragments but quite another when they’re your father.)

So, sleepless, grief-ridden and throwing-up nervous, we arrive at the funeral home and are disdainfully directed to the back door. Shaking and faint, we wait until Lurch finally hands over The Box. It’s slightly larger than a shoe box, suprisingly heavy and neatly wrapped in white and silver paper.

Lurch slams the door shut. My poor sister takes one appalled look, gasps, “SHIT! They gift wrapped Daddy!” and keels over in a dead faint.

Once roused, my sister and I debate the protocols in numbed hysteria. So we put Dad in the trunk or the back seat? Somehow it all seemed totally overwhelming.

Somehow driving (badly, I’m sure) the miles to the isolated spot Dad wanted, we stop and get The Box out. Shaking like aspen in a high wind and leaning on each other like drunks, my sister and walked the long distance to the particular place.

First we tear off the gift wrap: a plain cardboard box. Inside: a charred metal ID tag and a heavy ply plastic bag w/ stuff that looks for the world like slightly crunched aquarium gravel and fine ash. Then it’s time. Swaying, w/ no wind at all, we undo the rubber band and open the bag…

And it was nothing to fear. Nothing at all. It’s just ashes, the clean, burnt remnents of what used to clothe Dad. We scattered the ashes, my sister and I, and walked back with a lot of peace and a genuine goodbye.

So that was the trauma that made sense of a lot of the rest.

Sorry. That was long, and undoubtedly self indulgent, but I’ve since buried my mother’s ashes and don’t fear my own being buried. Sometimes trauma teaches. I was really lucky in mine, and that I had my sister to walk it with me.


The death of my dad when I was 9, on Xmas day.

The discovery that my older brothers all had MD.

Watching the pain in my then boyfriends now husbands face during the first 72 hours at the hospital after his parents were nearly killed in an accident.

Being betrayed by a supposed best friend.(This is the hardest one, I haven’t been able to allow myself to form deep relationships since this incident.)

The realization I can’t go home again, and really don’t want to.

Compared to what Shadowfox (Give us his name and address and the SDMB Superhero’s will make him pay for what he did to you!) and a few others here have gone through, I’ve had an easy life.

In chronological order:

(1) The death of my grandmother a few years ago.
(2) The death of my other grandmother not quote two years ago.
(3) The day I realized I would have to leave my wife and her step-daughter.
(4) The death of my mother a few months ago.

I’m still not over any of them…

Yer pal,

Boy. I guess I’ve had it pretty easy compared to some of what has been posted here. And all the serious stuff kinda took the wind out of the sarcastic answer I was gonna post (“sitting next to somebody who wouldn’t shut up on a 3 hour airplane flight.”)


Watching a formerly healthy and vigorous friend die of cancer. And realizing he was only 2 years older than I was at the time.

The death of a cat I’d had for 21 years.

peas on earth

In no particular order…
death of my grandfather when I was 9.
death of my grandmother when I was 11.
death of my father when I was 17.
holding my mom when she died when I was 24.
realizing that I just walked 150 yards right into the middle of a minefield.
hurting someone I really and truely loved, and I still love her.


Nothing to compare with what some of y’all have been through, especially Shadowfox – that’s just horrifying.

For me number one would be the time I spent in a psych hospital in '86 (I was sort of suicidal, and my therapist wouldn’t let me go home.) Not the whole 2 1/2 months, just the first few days were really traumatic to someone who had, up to then, led a really sheltered life.

After the first few days it was more of a stupid experience than a traumatic one – yelling at the recreational therapists, avoiding the art therapist, wondering what the f*** was the matter with the nurse who thought it was his duty to tell me that though I had a pretty face, I was neither attractive nor sexy (because I was too fat for his taste), the roommate who would sit on my bed in the middle of the night and and talk to people who weren’t there, and so on, and so on… I’m still a bit pissed about the whole thing after all these years. But that chain of hospitals is no longer in business, I’m pleased to say :slight_smile:


When I was eight, I attended a pizza party for my Campfire group. One of the girls and I started to argue about something silly, and my father got very angry. He took me outside, along with my younger brother, and let loose. I’ve blocked most of what happened from my mind, but I remember him screaming at me while squeezing my arms so hard that I felt as if they were on fire, and slamming my head against the stone building. This, in and of itself, was not so traumatizing, mostly because it wasn’t too unusual.

However, I kept hearing a sickening “thunk” as my head would hit the building, and everything started to grow very dark. I was sure I was going to die, that he was going to kill me, and the thought of my baby brother witnessing that… Well, I think that is one of the most terrible things I’ve ever had to contemplate.


  1. Helping my 80-year-old paralyzed grandfather go to the bathroom and clean up after him. I was 10 years old at the time.

  2. Being stalked throughout the whole year and beat up by the whole 6th grade class just because I was the “new guy”.

  3. Seeing my father attempt to kill my brother. I had to rip away my dad from beating him to death.

Wow. These are some truely heartbreaking stories. I’m not even going to try t list my experiences here…

No, rather I would like to make a sincere compliment.

TVeblen, you should be a writer (well, maybe you are…). The way you described saying goodbye to your father was moving, and -in a way- humourous at the same time. Beautiful. You’re the most eloquent poster I’ve encountered so far on this board. Thanks, for entertaining me, and I’m sure a lot more people.


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)