One day I woke up different. It had been a long time in the making – forty-seven years to be exact! Years of over-functioning for others together with compassion fatigue forced me to reevaluate my sense of self. Well, maybe a few therapy sessions helped, too! I was officially finished trying to figure out who was on my side, against me, or who was walking warily down the middle because they did not have the guts to pick a side. I was done with anything that did not bring me peace or pleasure. The damaging people in my life were given tighter boundaries or purged. Their negative energy would no longer infect my peace, nor would I allow their bitterness to penetrate my positivity.
Awakening to trauma is painful and scary. For me, it has been an isolating experience. Feeling the feelings and not becoming the emotions is harder said than done. When I began my healing journey, it was almost overwhelming to see how trauma manifested everywhere in society, mainly within my family system is where I saw it front and center. I continue to witness my trauma, allow it to be present then release it without judgment. This process of reconciling my resentment started to change my life. To be honest, it was not just one day that gave me hope to move past the generational gook. It was a collection of days that forced me to see through the darkness and allow my light to triumph. Realizing life is too short of leaving the key to my happiness in someone else’s pocket was a delightful feeling.
Trauma is an intelligent process. It took time to understand its impact on me and my actions towards myself and others. I believe we all can relearn and unlearn our past behaviors. I try to describe the effects of trauma is when our inner emotional world becomes the outer emotional world. Which often leads to hurt, traumatized people hurting and traumatizing people. The fragmented worlds of emotion we live in are invisible forces. The nature of trauma is multifaceted. This inner and social disconnect or dislocation of psychosocial integration is what I want to explore further, both in myself and its effects on others.
With my continued research towards my dissertation in the field of epigenetics and inheritance of trauma, I have been introduced to leading experts. One of them being Dr. Gabor Mate, a palliative care physician who devotes his energies to addicted men and women. Watching a documentary recently on the Wisdom of Trauma with Dr. Gabor Mate and other experts in the field such as Thomas Hubl, I learned that trauma causes us to live in survival mode. A hypervigilant state where we are ‘looking over our shoulder’ always believing people are out to hurt us equating to a lack of self-trust. Both Mate and Hubl talk about trauma and recognize it is a colossal and complex dilemma. Having abandonment issues and dealing with the death of a parent at a very young age has caused suffering in ways I could not have imagined. Yet, I became adept at masking and ignoring the pain; outrunning or pretending it did not affect me.
To heal from trauma, we must learn how to trust ourselves again, return to our bodies, and forgive ourselves for what we did while we were in survival mode. I will continue to explore my journey with trauma and the disconnect we face in the realm of pseudo-connectivity in our technological age. Our society fails to talk about trauma and what drives people into addiction and emotional pain. We live through a time when there is a desperate need to escape the isolation and dismay of our daily lives. I entered and found safety in my fictional town of Numbville in the hope of finding solace from my imbalanced feelings. This place I escaped to avoid the desperate feeling of dismay in my daily life. As the highs and lows of my life felt overwhelming. The inside and outside noises around me dulled when I was in my place of refuge. No one bothered me in Numbville. I would watch the world and all its players like a variety show. My limited participation in life was half-hearted – like never being fully alive in my own body. I found comfort, safety and security staying within the confines of this walled city I concocted.
Healing our collective trauma is a process that will take time and energy. I am hopeful that my journey of integrating my intergenerational and cultural wounds will be an example for others to follow. For the longest time, I felt my muddled mind was mental illness, yet this could be a genetic flaw from my father and mother. I also learned that parents who generate trauma were traumatized themselves, repeating the cycle they once learned as children. I will delve deeper into this when I discuss the epigenetics and inheritance of trauma biologically. For example, I had a father who was an angry alcoholic who abused my mother while intoxicated. My mother was emotionless and lacked the parental tools to give me love and attention. What my trauma has taught me is that my parents did not intend to traumatize me. Both my parents did the best they could with the level of awareness they had at the time. As I continue to uncover the underlying dynamics of both individual and collective trauma, I will heal not only my own deepest wounds but access my higher potential not to allow transmission of this trauma for future generations. To me, that is a beautiful thing trauma taught me.