This is Us - Season 3 Episode 11 – From the Eyes of a Counselor
After endless searching on Kevin’s part The Big Three finally get to meet their Uncle Nicky in this episode. With the introduction comes the retelling of the tragic story of how Nicky was sent home from Vietnam. The Big Three also learn that Nicky was never able to share this story with Jack and has lived with the shame of Jack thinking his actions were intentional. Nicky says he has replayed the event in his mind over and over and thinks he will even hear the screaming in his head on his death bed. We learn that Nicky has continued to struggle with addiction as well as suicidal thoughts. He seems to live a very secluded life – alone with his thoughts.
When thoughts get stuck inside our head, they often grow to be much stronger and much more destructive than they would be out in the light. Cognitive Processing Therapy calls these thoughts stuck points. These are the thoughts that circulate around why a tragic event happened, what could have been done to stop it, and what life will look like forever moving forward. These thoughts often include phrases like “if only”, “I should have known”, “It’s all my fault”, “I will never get it out of my mind”, “I am damaged forever”, and many others. With proper therapy we are able to replace these thoughts with new thoughts that are more committed to reality and true relief can be experienced.
Another way to bring relief after trauma is the sharing of shame. Its unfortunate that Nicky never got the chance to share with Jack but hopefully there is still time for him to experience healing having shared with Kate, Kevin, and Randall. When we share our shame with safe people in our lives we are often met with compassion, truth, encouragement, and maybe even a “me too”. This helps us believe that we are not the only ones who feel this way and helps us have the courage to forgive ourselves and others.
The trauma Nicky experienced is no joke. It makes sense that he has locked himself up inside a camper and avoided the world. But he could also experience healing if he chooses to work through the difficult memories.
Some Things to Consider:
Have you experienced some type of trauma? Are these stuck points running through your head? Are the ways you are currently coping actually working? What next steps could you take to get the help you needs to find relief?
Do you know someone who has experienced trauma? Could you offer to be a voice of reason, empathy and compassion in their life?