Those are my people.
So often the eyes are distant, aching eyes and young, so young and wounded or so old and wounded, but never their chronological age. Sometimes I believe they are “old souls” who have experienced so much and been wounded to their very core. And sometimes they are like children, frozen in emotional, developmental time, the victims of events beyond their power. The healing sometimes comes too late, the damage is so severe, but for those that we can touch with love, caring, compassion and patience, the healing will come.
Those are my people.
Is there someone in your circle who is lonely and alone most of the time, or has “ADHD” or behaviorally challenged, or suicidal, depressed, anxious, often socially inept or bullied, drugs, alcohol, self-harming (cutting or burning) or eating disorders, (anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating), pornography or sex addiction, compulsive behaviors of all types. Anger and rage, sometimes seen as oppositional defiance.
Those are my people. Those are the children of trauma in grown up bodies.
Trauma is a big and frightening word, but in reality trauma is those events or systems that create a real or perceived possibility of death or harm. That is the standard definition, however, I believe trauma often is more subtle then that. Words hurt in a way that do incredible damage especially when supported by actions and behaviors that reinforce the message of the words.
Listen to the voice in your mind what are the things that you say to yourself, the “Inner Critic” may very well be more cruel and judgmental to yourself then you would ever be to anyone else.
Secrets in the family, that unspoken energy that is felt but never voiced. My people keep those secrets of what happened, who harmed them and those stories they tell themselves as an explanation for the events that have wounded them.
The families of my people, as most families, are secret keepers. The secret is to protect someone or a reputation or a way of life. Often, when the secrets are finally told, the pieces to a puzzle fall into place. Many times the acknowledgement of the secrets is followed by a “huge cleansing breath”; it finally makes sense.
Here is an example, Carol at 42 was in treatment again, crack and alcohol and other drugs, Any other drugs and men. There was always a relationship.
She was born to privileged family, Nana ruled the family. Carol “felt” lost and unloved most of life. Nana was cold to her, verbally abusive, dismissive, and she alienated Carol from the rest of her family. This began. When she was very young.
Carol tried to avoid the pain even in treatment by “acting out.” Some clients “act in” but almost everyone experiences relapses in behavior while in treatment to avoid re-experiencing the pain. No surprise and a juicy therapeutic opportunity.
What we discovered was that Carol already had the puzzle pieces, had found her parents marriage certificate dated AFTER her conception. Well in her rigid, fundamentalist, Southern grandma’s world Carol was a bastard child who created a moral dilemma for the family and consequently all Of grandma’s rage and disappointment was loaded onto The poor little girl. And that poor little girl never understand why she felt shame and never understood that it was not hers to own. And all the drugs or men would ever change that.
Now the healing could begin; the puzzle pieces were falling into place.
So when my people experience daily verbal abuse from someone who is supposed to love and care for and protect them, the message becomes so clear and so ingrained in the spirit of the child.” I am unlovable, defective, broken, worthless, a throw away.” So many damning beliefs. When that is ingrained in the spirit of a child, without help they bring that baggage with them into adulthood, into all their choices, into all of their relationships.
When my people experience early childhood medical problems it affects them the same way sexual abuse would affect them. Intrusive, a betrayal, violent, being restrained. being poked and prodded with strange objects, the loss of protection from their caretakers, enormous, unexplained pain, their body has betrayed them and so has everyone in their lives…that is their perception even when parents are doing everything possible to love and support, that is how it “feels”
It is important to know that as we move forward with our exploration of the effects of untreated trauma we must repeat this mantra:
“There is no right or wrong, good or bad, we are looking at “what is” and every person involved has a different perception of “what is”.
We often meet with families to discuss a triggering event or series of events and ALWAYS each family member has a different experience of the same event.
If you want to test this, go to a family dinner and bring up the topic of something you all experienced and have every one describe what it was like for them: you will be amazed at the sensory experiences, the different emotional landscapes and the judgment around those events.