A Truth about Trauma

A Truth about Trauma

Trauma is a fact of life. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

– Peter Levine, founder of Somatic Experiencing trauma therapy

I quote the quote above in most of my clinical trainings on resilience, including a 12-hour training for the Ottawa Centre for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse and Childhood Trauma just last weekend.

Dr. Levine normalizes how inevitable trauma is in a human life. We are all vulnerable to threat, loss, tragedy and trauma; no one is immune. And it is more than possible to heal, recover, even learn and grow from trauma, as researchers like Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun amply demonstrate in the emerging field of post-traumatic growth.

The truth that dawned on me as I was preparing for the CTSACT training was how much our society normalizes trauma. That many soldiers serving our country in Afghanistan or Iraq will return home with seemingly intractable PTSD.  That black and brown citizens can be stopped, frisked, sometimes assaulted and arrested for no known infraction whatsoever.  That attractive young women will be sexually harassed on their jobs as though that were a part of their job. That children will be neglected or abused by parents who don’t have the parenting skills or haven’t healed the abuse they experienced in their own families growing up. 

I do teach about the power of choice in choosing how we respond to any trauma, any threat, any disaster.

How you respond to the issue…is the issue. – Frankie Perez

There’s great power and truth in that attitude, that mindset.  And that power of choice extends to people working together to protest the causes and conditions of trauma in our larger society, to keep the trauma from happening in the first place: the Me Too movement; Black Lives Matter; Mother against Drunk Driving, etc. 

As soon as I posted the poem Earthrise by Amanda Gorman on April 22, Earth Day, my friend Lynn sent me the link to Ms. Gorman reciting the poem, with great images of the “blue marble” we must all work together to protect. (see The Climate Reality Project.)

Trauma doesn’t have to be so normal. May you find your way to the mission that will help ease the causes and conditions of trauma in our larger collective in a way that speaks to your heart and allows your choices to be known. 

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