I hope you have been safe and doing what has felt right to you during this tumultuous time in our nation. I also hope that you have found the space to feel whatever has been coming up for you.
As I write this on June 3rd, we are in the middle of week two of nationwide protests. And as someone with a deep interest in all facets of healing, I want to share some thoughts on healing in relation to the issues that have reached a boiling point in our nation. Much of what we’ve recently seen and experienced – the protests, the anger, the hurt – is a response to unresolved trauma —trauma that has roots as long as our country’s history.
If you have worked with me long-term and/or on a deep level, or have done any deep personal trauma healing work with anyone anywhere at any time, you know that healing is tumultuous and unpredictable. Healing is not a low-lit room with candles and lavender oil and soothing music. Healing is messy. Healing is waves of pain and emotion that take you by surprise and take your breath away. Healing is questioning everything you thought you knew; it is the shattering and dissolving of old beliefs. Healing is free fall and doubt and finding the courage to take terrifying leaps of faith. Healing is exhaustion and grief for what was lost and relief that it’s finally happening.
Unresolved trauma not only holds us back as individuals from reaching our full potential; it also holds us back as a society. On Sunday, May 31st, I watched an interview with T.D. Jakes, the famous bishop, author and filmmaker. I took a lot away from that interview, but I’ll highlight one point that stuck with me: that it is not only the abuse of the stepfather that hurts the child but also, and no less importantly, the silence of the mother, or the mother who does not believe the child.
We are witnessing, on a grand scale, the frustrated cries of members of our society who have suffered not only ongoing acts of abuse and violence (yes, physical violence but also social, emotional, intergenerational and systemic violence) but also the pain caused by not being heard or seen or believed or taken seriously when they have, against all odds, cried out against injustice. But it is not only the abused and neglected that must speak up; it is all of us who are witness to injustice on small and large scales who must do so or otherwise contribute to further suffering as a result of our silence. We must listen, and we must show up in our actions.
So first, listen with an open heart and without judgment. And then, once the person who has been traumatized feels seen, heard and understood, offer support in whatever form is needed and requested by the traumatized individual. Keep showing, up again and again, until the one who has for so long felt unsafe, uncared for and unloved begins to believe that safety can exist in their body and in their world.
And so, despite the messiness of these past weeks – or, rather, centuries – I am hopeful. In my own personal healing experiences, I’ve had to fall apart in order to be put back together in a way that was more organized, sustainable and more fully an expression of who I am. And that is my hope for our nation and our world – that through the falling apart we find the opportunity to reorganize the systems that don’t work for us as a society, to find a more sustainable way to live together on this planet and to more fully express who we truly are as a human race.
The more we work with and through our own unresolved trauma, the more we are able to hold space for that of others. Unsure of where to begin? Here are a few resources:
The Transforming Trauma podcast, hosted by the amazing Sarah Buino –
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/
Somatic Experiencing – https://traumahealing.org/
Or read a book, The Body Remembers, by Babette Rothschild or Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine