How Banter Helps me Deal with Trauma

This week I’m back in Bali and it’s one of those places where it doesn’t quite matter what your plans are because the Universe will just go ahead and do what it wants to do anyway, which for this week is give me good banter – and I’m grateful for it.

I’ve ended up staying in a beautiful part of Ubud at a delightful little guesthouse with only two rooms and here everything is perfect – the husband is a chef, the area is peaceful and they have every amenity that I could ask for. I had actually planned to get myself off to my favourite little diving resort in Nusa Lembongan – an island South East of Bali when everything started to go wrong… I couldn’t get on the boat that I wanted to get on, there were no Uber cars in the area to get me to the port and I was generally feeling a bit stressed and panicky about going. In all honesty, I was only leaving because the guesthouse was fully booked but then out of the blue the owner told me that the other room was now available so if I wanted to stay, I could. By this time, I had managed to get a boat and transfer but that’s probably because I’m quite persistent, so then I was confused as of what to do and when I feel like this my solution is to flip my lucky coin. It said stay, so I did. That’s when I met Steve who was moving into the room next door. Straight away we hit it off and went out for food and conversations on my scooter.

Not only is Steve a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner but he’s also had to deal with a whole variety of traumas and has gone to a load of different therapeutic and explorative healing workshops, courses and programmes which I have been picking his brains about. Obviously, much of this has been done with a lot of seriousness, but there has also been a lot of banter (or for those who aren’t from the UK ‘being silly’) and it reminded me of how important this is when dealing with life’s traumatic situations.

I remember when I first returned back from the Caribbean and started to tell my close friends about the attack. The responses were interesting and most people didn’t really know how to deal with it, I guess because it wasn’t often that I’m so serious about something. There were some friends, though, that lightened the situation by adding some banter – the one who high fived me and said ‘Congratulations on the stabbing’ (I stabbed my attacker in the arm to get away). This response made me laugh and appreciate that I had done something pretty courageous. There was also the male friend who joked with me about how stupid the guy was to try and pin me down on my back rather than my front (I had cuts on the back of my legs from where I’d been pinned down on broken tree branches), and that he obviously hadn’t thought that through. Making light of the situation in such a manner allowed me to distance myself from the emotions and make a joke about the situation. I also imagine that it might it easier for my friends to talk about it with me and this is the key – it needs to be talked out because otherwise it gets bottled up and never gets dealt with. As I work on re-framing the attack this week using the NLP techniques that Steve is generously teaching me I can see the similarities of having banter about the attack and reframing it from a scary situation to a funny situation. To me, it’s almost the same thing because it’s talking about a scary situation in a different light and I’m glad that those friends reacted this way.

Of course, to act this way those friends knew me very well and had to use their initiative to sense whether it was appropriate or not. At both these points, they judged my feeling quite well and the banter made me feel better.

The attack was one trauma but losing my father was another and this is where banter got a little trickier, unfortunately, this resulted in the ultimate test for some friendships too which is a shame. I do remember however how my cousin successfully managed banter about this in a phone call very soon after my Dad’s death.

He asked me “Did he die in his favourite chair Shereen?”

To which I replied “Yeah, he did, watching his favourite TV show too. Well, actually it had just finished”

“Ah, that’ll be why then” He replied and we both started laughing.

I think it’s really important here to state that firstly neither of us were laughing at the death. I’m heartbroken that my Dad died and he is upset too, because he admired my Dad so much. However, the situation about my Dad waiting until his favourite programme was over before he exited was true and it was funny because my Dad was so pragmatic about things that if he chose his exit then that’s exactly what he would have done, so it made light of the event because it was as if my Dad chose the situation.

Banter is something I’ve been brought up with – both my parents had (my Mum still does have) great senses of humour, wit and would play about with my brother and I growing up. Like the time my Mum picked up the phone and pretended to be a Chinese Restaurant when she knew that I was waiting for a boy that I had a crush on to call me – I was 12 years old and so embarrassed but I couldn’t be angry because her and my Dad found it so damn funny!! The key here is that banter is one of those things that needs to be appropriate to the friendship/relationship and the situation – which in my life is very apt, therefore it’s compassionate. But this might not be the case for all so please don’t go poking fun at someone who is crying and telling you a very vulnerable story after reading this post.

Instead please ask yourself – How do they feel right now? and What can I do to make this situation easier for them? By bantering with me in the above situations they’re the questions that my friends and family answered. Banter.

If you like my blog posts follow me! Just add your email address in box on the sidebar. Also, check out my new Sketch – The Love Train Wreck, my Therapies and Therapy Reviews for some insightful healing information.

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