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.

Writing Matters

I’ve recently made significant revisions to my book The Uncluttered Mother and it is being review by two publishers. So fingers crossed, I will find its home soon.  In the interest of walking my talk, I finally did some long overdue digital housecleaning. This is the only decluttering chore that I have truly dreaded, and it felt great to get it done. 

Now that I am lighter and less distracted by digital clutter, and my first book is out of my hands (for now), I have turned my attention back to my memoir. I’ve grappled with the title for months (years?) and have settled on Alienated; of all the themes a reader could glean from this book, I think that alienation is the most significant. Personally, I was alienated from my mother after my parents’ divorce when I was four years old; perhaps only a small fraction of readers will relate to this particular trauma. But of a more universal motif is the alienation  from myself that I struggled to overcome after such a loss. So although it reads like a poignant memoir, it is my intention that it offers hope of wholeness and healing for anyone with a tough childhood, one that left them disconnected from their own power. 

How do I marry my two books, one narrative nonfiction and the other memoir? Where is the connection?  Well, if there is too much inner and outer extraneous matter, if we are too distracted,  we will avoid – or never find- the path back to Self.  On the contrary, it is hard to be uncluttered and remain alienated because in the open spaces, the way is revealed.

Childhood Trauma and Adult Health

pexels-photo-264889.jpegChildhood trauma, if not healed and released, is very likely to lead to significant health issues in adulthood.  It is time to call BS on the beliefs that keep us from healing, such as:

Time heals all wounds.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.

Leave the past in the past.

The past can’t hurt you anymore.

Groundbreaking research in neuroscience, psychology and medicine tells us that childhood trauma shapes our biology– our brains and our immune system- in ways that predetermine our adult health. The more adverse experiences, the higher our chances of developing heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, alcoholism, depression, etc.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences quiz consists of ten questions regarding childhood traumas such as:
*Being verbally put down & humiliated

*Being emotionally or physically neglected

*Being physically or sexually abused

*Witnessing one’s mother being abused

*Living w/ a parent who is depressed, mentally ill or addicted to alcohol or other substance

*Losing a parent to separation or divorce

You can find the quiz here:  ACE quiz

The higher one’s ACE score, the greater the risk of disease. According to research, scoring 4 or higher can shorten your life span by 20 years!

 How Do We Heal?

Education:

Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Running on Empty by Jonice Webb, PhD

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Trauma Release Process by David Berceli

Mind & Body:

Healthy Diet

Exercise (including Trauma Release Exercises)

Yoga

Energy Healing

Meditation

Mindfulness

Expressing and Connecting:

Talk therapy, speak about the secrets, tell your story

Write, draw, art therapy

Eventual forgiveness

Awareness and education are the first steps along the path to healing. No one wants to live in the past, but the truth is that the past is living within us.  Until we address our histories and then commit to healing trauma, we are essentially neglecting ourselves, mind, body, and spirit. Time does not heal all wounds. But courage does.

 

 

 

 

Memoir Excerpt

This excerpt of my memoir-in-progress was published in Mothers Always Write this week.  I told this story at a Boston Moth live storytelling event and after taking first place, I went on to perform it at the Moth GrandSlam the following year. It is the story of reconnecting with my alienated mother. The Stranger I Call Mother

Parental Alienation is a form of pathology in which one parent alienates the child from the other parent, typically after a divorce. I have been writing and speaking on this topic as a way to spread awareness and education and to be a voice for the alienated child.

More information on Parental Alienation can be found here:  Dr. Craig Childress blog and here: Dr. Childress on Parental Alienation Dynamics

 

 

 

Welcome

After decades of writing and blogging elsewhere, I have finally created a home base for my work and my thoughts. My posts will cover a range of topics, both broad and specific, from creativity and simplifying, to yoga, mindfulness, healing old wounds, conscious parenting, high sensitivity, and parental alienation. I will also post updates on my memoir, and eventually share thoughts on my other book ideas.

In my mind, these topics are all interwoven and fall under the category of authenticity. I promise to be real and true every single time that I come to the page. I hope that you will be as honest and open in reading and responding.  I would love to hear from you, to know who you are, but if you prefer to just stop by and read, that’s fine too. As long as I am growing this site organically, and creating a space where people can take what resonates, then I am satisfied.

If you would like updates on this blog as they are posted, there is an option to follow.  Thank you for visiting. I hope you come back often.

~Dana