Connect Within:​
Trauma Is Our Friend​
Darren Duguay, BSc, BEd, EFI, CD1, n.d.

Darren is a former Community College instructor of eight years and has completed 27 years service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He earned his Emotional Fitness® Coach and Instructor’s certification through the Emotional Fitness Institute. He is a grandfather to Ava and Dad to Alexandre as well as Josee. Darren has personal experience managing Complex Post Traumatic Stress (C-PTS).

HAVE YOU OR HAS SOMEONE you know been impacted by trauma? On a scale of 0-20, how much did trauma impact your life, and does it still affect you today? The purpose of this blog is to share my experience with trauma while inviting you to join me on this journey of self-discovery. Are you ready for a workout?

My Dad was one of my best friends. Growing up I always admired Dad. He loved hunting, fishing, boat-building. We made great memories together, like the time when we stayed in a fishing boat cabin during a storm, waves the height of our two-storey house while everyone else was tucked away in their cove of safety.

Do you remember certain special occasions with special people in your life?

During our time together, I would like us to take a mutual journey together through trauma. To help facilitate this journey I will use the Emotional Fitness® tool “Learning From Experience”.

STORY: Description of My Experience

I am a child walking into the kitchen of the home I grew up in. I look in and notice Dad is at the kitchen table writing a note. A shotgun is beside the note.
Something just doesn’t feel right.

After I go back to my bedroom and get ready for school, I return to the same spot where Dad wrote the note. This time there is no Dad. There is no one.


I’ve just heard the shotgun go off. I’ve just experienced the suicide of my Dad. It took 42 years for me to become friends with trauma.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

For this writing exercise, create a safe, quiet place to write. Break when you need to, take more time if you need to and have a self-care reward at the end.
What does your story with trauma look like? Which trauma story have you not had a chance to write about, or is there an experience with trauma that you would like to revisit in this moment? During the next 10 minutes, I would like you to write about your experience. Write it in the present tense as if it is happening right now.

DISCOVERY: What I Learned From My Experience

Shortly after I lost my Dad, I remember always being really busy—busy with cadets, busy with sports, busy with being busy. I remember experiencing struggles and challenges in school, as I had a hard time staying focused, attentive, and on-task with my studies.

I joined cadets in 1979 and a put a uniform on. I consistently received acknowledgments about how immaculate my uniform was, one of the best uniforms on the parade square, no double creases, had the shiniest boots, great haircut and great smile. I painted a similar image in sports and anything else that I was involved with. In essence, my external appearance was really my mask. Looking good on the outside was my way of protecting myself, my way of not allowing anyone in and at the same time preventing me from connecting with others. I discovered different strategies to avoid connection with my friend trauma. In doing so, I remained disconnected from those around me.

I would often try to find responses and answers outside of me. At the end of the day, what this did was to take me further away from connecting with me. I became disconnected and remained so until I came back from Afghanistan in 2011, when I voluntarily released from the Canadian Forces. It was the first time I did not wear my uniform and started to take a serious look at what I was still carrying with me after all these years. During that one year transition, I
expanded my self-care model from physical and mental fitness to include spiritual fitness, integrating the tools of my Native culture.

In October 2012, I connected with the founder of Emotional Fitness®, Warren Redman. I now had a holistic balanced fitness-resiliency model to utilize. I discovered, after so many years, that I was a boy in crisis.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

At this point, my question is, what have you learned through your own experience with trauma? Please take 10 minutes and write about your own discovery.

PROOF: How I Demonstrate My Achievement

To connect with me and my continuing journey navigating through trauma, I implement an intentional daily regime of connection. I take the first 60-90 minutes of each day, wake up at around 5am after 7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep and take a couple minutes to be grateful. I make my bed because, really, at the end of the day, it feels good to come home to a made bed. Then I proceed to hydrate, smudge, enjoy my first bullet-proof coffee, go for a 20 minute walk connecting with spirit, return to meditate and journal. I take the time to create a framework that represents integrated holistic fitness. I do know if I bypass or short-change myself by not following my self-care plan, I get myself into trouble. This is how I demonstrate and prove that I’ve learned from my achievement. I take the time to connect as opposed to being traditionally busy and avoiding what I am going through.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

I invite you to take the next 10 minutes to write out how you now use what you have learned from your own personal experiences that you described earlier. How can you demonstrate what you’ve learned from your experience? Be creative and give some examples to show what you know and can do.

OWNERSHIP: What Else I Need to Learn

I need to consistently focus on self-care, this time using a more holistic balanced resilient tool-kit to heal while at the same time become more self-aware with other experiences I have not addressed. Leveraging my tools will enable me to release the suppressed traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence, while continuing to re-build my inner self one brick at a time. I need to learn more about the traditional Mi’kmaq healing tools such as sweat lodge, smudging and drumming in order to strength my friendship with trauma. I would like to develop additional tools to manage my addictive behaviours.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

What else do you feel you need to learn about your experience with trauma? I invite you to take the next 10 minutes and write what else you need to learn?

GROWTH: Learning Opportunities I Plan to Take Up

Currently I am attending a Creative Flow writing group in order to add value to my experiences while writing and sharing with others. I will continue to expand my holistic self-care model by adding tools as it relates to mindfulness, nutrition, spiritual ascension-enlightenment-expansion. I will start up a support group-training program around “Connect Within – Trauma Is Our Friend” while activating a Facebook Group to support continued growth and mutual sharing. I am aware that many of these different experiences will organically and spiritually appear at the right place at the right time.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

What do you feel are some learning opportunities you would like to take up to support your growth? I invite you to take the next 10 minutes and write. Ask yourself what growth looks like for you and what learning opportunities you plan on taking up. How do you want to learn and what opportunities do you want to carve out for yourself? Do you prefer to read things, practice, go on courses? When do you see yourself doing this?

SUMMARIZE: The Essence of My Experience ​with My Friend Trauma

My more than fifty-year journey with trauma was one of disconnection with myself, resulting in a lifestyle of addictive behaviours that masked unhealed, invisible wounds leading to fragmented relationships. The pandemic of 2020 was an opportunity to further amplify my self-connection. The journey with my friend trauma continues to unfold, unravelling precisely as it should. I’ve learned that healing is a gradual process, not intended to be rushed. It is my mission to heal holistically by integrating my wisdom, experience and tools as an Emotional Fitness® Educator and to become an advocate by supporting others navigating through their own healing journey.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

What does your summary, the essence of your experience look like? I invite you to take the next 10 minutes to write. Ask yourself, what have you shared during this process and what particularly resonates at this moment?

ACTION PLAN: What Is My Next Step?

My action plan going forward is to continue to use a holistic, integrated resiliency model to stay consistent with a balanced portfolio of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social, and family fitness while remaining connected with my Mi’kmaq roots. I will continue to develop and nurture the Emotional Fitness® Academy to include a long-term sustainable initiative centered on “Connecting Within – Trauma is Our Friend”.

10 Minute Writing Exercise

What does your action plan look like? I invite you to take the next 10 minutes to write.


Imagine walking into your own personal kitchen of trauma, being aware there are things that lead to disconnection. This time; however, you have tools that will lead you to an inner world of connection with your friend trauma. We can now connect with ourselves, with our trauma, physically manifesting to external connections with our friends, family, community, to a world that is connected.

I watched you write your note, Dad. Forty-two years later, I still remember the awesome memories we shared and how much I still love you. Thank you for being with me all these years.

In closing, I wish each and every one of you your own unique journey of healing and connection with your friend trauma. Your journey may be relatable to others but is uniquely special to you. If you have any questions regarding what came up during this reading and writing experience, do not hesitate to reach out and connect. I would love to listen to you while you share your journey and your next steps.



  • The 9 Steps To Emotional Fitness, A Tool-Kit For Life In The 21st Century. Warren Redman. Merlin Star Press, Calgary AB. 2003.
  • Invisible Wounds, The emotional journey of a police officer’s battle with PTSD, 2020

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