Unresolved Trauma

In his book The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer tells the story of a man who suffers from a thorn in his body. He goes to great length to avoid bumping this thorn so that he can live as pain-free as possible with the thorn still inside of him.  Of course, this limits his range of motion and emotions, and it also takes an enormous amount of energy to live this way. When life does clash with his thorn, he feels pain and strikes out or doubles down on his efforts to avoid the irritation in the future. I am sure you can guess that the answer to the man’s dilemma was to remove the thorn and live a life of freedom and happiness. But the point of the story is that so many of us have “thorns”, typically born of childhood trauma, that we spend a lifetime trying to avoid, rather than healing.

Perhaps we don’t realize we are living this way until some habitual behavior- meant to numb us from our painful feelings (aka the thorn) – becomes addictive and destructive, affecting our mental or physical health or relationships. Or maybe our “thorn” is bumped and it triggers a reaction out of proportion to the actual event.

Maybe we don’t even consciously know that the thorn is there because we have few memories of the original traumas or we hit a wall of emotional numbness when recalling them. The lack of feeling when recalling a painful event is usually due to “splitting”.  The following article describes this phenomenon, and though the author focuses on very sensitive children, I believe that all children are vulnerable to splitting when faced with very adverse experiences. https://www.eggshelltherapy.com/a-split-in-our-personality/

During this time of political upheaval and chaos, I cannot help but see so many in positions of power as The Walking Wounded. Whether it is their inability to lose, their refusal to relinquish power, or their absolute disregard for what is right, in my mind they are the epitome of childhood traumas run amok. They are the untreated; toddler mentalities but grown adults with the power to throw the most destructive fits – playing out on our world stage. The blatant unawareness of those causing such harm to humanity is extremely unattractive. They are aware of what they are doing but they are not aware of why.  They appear completely disconnected from any whisper of spirit, any basic plea of the heart to look within, to reflect, to acknowledge their thorns. I would bet their whole lives are an avoidance of acknowledging their wounds, no matter the trauma they inflict on others.

 Thankfully, most of us never reach this level of widespread destruction. But we harm ourselves every day that we choose to leave the thorn in place. Awareness and acknowledgement of childhood trauma is the first step to healing and most people have at least some unprocessed trauma, whether highly sensitive or not.  Processing the grief and anger are crucial steps to removing the thorn.  Time does not heal all wounds. If left untreated, they can fester, lead to health and relationship problems, addictions – both soft and deadly – and can generally diminish one’s quality of life. If we guard ourselves against feeling our worst pain, we also miss out on our greatest joy, love and connection. Healing our wounds is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others.