I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a week now, but have been delayed – busy work week and the recurring migraine headache that blunts my focus and energy.
It seems as though the theme was “looking through a different set of colored glasses”, a phrase that I often use with my clients. As I shared this wisdom with those who had similar themes with different circumstances, I was also listening to my book of the month learning, The Body Keeps Score, a wonderful work by psychiatrist, Bessel Van der Kolk, regarding trauma and its imprint on the body.
In fact, I have been using this framework with clients for years, but as I listened intently, it brought up not only my own past circumstances, but I thought about my parents, again opening my eyes to awareness, compassion and a different point of view.
As I’ve listened to my Dad’s stories about the army, witnessing his buddy’s suicide, hearing about another friend shot and killed overseas, and others of my grandfather chasing my Dad while on a drunken rage, I’ve learned to see some of my own Dad’s behavior as his self-protective armor, not allowing anyone inside to witness the sad and fearful young boy and man that he was.
And with my Mom, I recall her telling me about her childhood – witnessing her own mother in and out of hospitals, moaning in pain with doctors coming and going. When she was just 9, she was sent to stay with an aunt on the cape for an entire summer, not knowing the reason, but sensing something wrong. It was during that summer that she developed asthma and upon coming home, learned that her mother had little time left to live. Mom often told me that as a little girl, she would sit and rock back and forth to soothe her own panic.
Both Mom and Dad had their own traumatic experiences and it shaped who they became as adults and for years, I carried my own set of beliefs about them – angry, defensive, anxious, depressed, controling – along with many wonderful attributes that I have talked about in other blogs.
I find myself often assisting my clients to see the broader view, and while not diminishing their pain and reality, also slowly opening them up to view these experiences with compassion for themselves and those who may have inflicted pain. The forgiveness piece is pivotal for any healing to occur and this forgiveness is of self and others.
I am especially thinking more about this in light of the recent bloodshed in France. While terrifying to hear about this, also knowing that Ashley is in Europe for the year completing her study abroad, she and I had a long discussion about the situation just yesterday and found ourselves not looking at us vs them, but more from a humanity viewpoint. As humans, we all need food, clothing, shelter and these political/religious wars do no really take this into account, but instead, dangle the carrot for groups to gain more control. I also thought about an exercise that I did while in a transformative weekend program called The Landmark Forum. All 200 of us needed to face one person at a time, looking into the eyes of the other for 60 seconds. We needed to face each person in the room in this way. The amazing revelation was that form dissolved – we were one with each other. This exercise has been one of the most profound experiences that I have had with another.
How do we reconcile trauma and devastation? The first place to begin is to recognize that our truth is merely our perception and that is where opportunity begins. Slow down, breathe deeply, go inside and remember that we are all one – change those glasses – instead of the dark defensive pair, choose the rose colored ones instead!