Have you ever wondered …Why did I do that? or Why am I feeling so triggered? or do find yourself looking at people in judgement …What's wrong with them? Or even worse find yourself in constant conflict, division and opposition?
It seems like everywhere we turn these days, we’re confronted with reminders of how much division there is on our planet. Among colleagues, neighbours, family members, communities, countries, cultures it can sometimes feel like like there’s a war on peace….like we’re adrenaline junkies seeking the next big crisis. And if it’s not going to come on it’s own, we’ll summon it.
Maybe we should be asking ourselves, what’s with all this drama?
I get it, there’s a lot out there to test us. It feels like there is nothing peaceful about the way we are living today - raping the planet, spending more of our resources on ways to harm than on ways to heal, sowing so much separation and judgement. So yes it’s so easy to escalate, entrench or finger point when we’re confronted with our swirling emotions.
Maybe there’s an even better question, where is all this coming from?
What’s the root of all this conflict and angst? This may sound a little cliche but Sigmund Freud may have been right when he said, “I think this man is suffering from memories.” Except today I think the human race is suffering from deep, pervasive, personal and systemic trauma…memories that haunt, victimize, hunt and pulverize us, our loved ones and our communities.
When I tap into the energy around us, it feels like trauma is everywhere. It’s as though we are living with layers of trauma, cloaking us, dragging behind us holding us back from the extraordinary gifts that this life has to offer us. We live on this beautiful planet of opportunity and abundance, but we struggle to get through, makes ends meet and to get by. None of us are here to just get by.
Trauma separates us from ourselves, it blocks memories as it tries to protect us, it creates triggers to warn us, box us in. It tries to tell us that our past experience is more real than our present and that it’s better to be frozen in the past than to take a chance on a better today or tomorrow.
Most of us have experienced trauma at some level during our life’s journey, we also live with the trauma attached to our loved ones so even through your life may be relatively easy from most accounts, you’re likely carrying the traumatic experience of your elders, often unknowingly. Truth is we need some of these experiences, it shapes us, helps us grow, tests us, creates choices.
Some experience is unthinkable, inexplicably cruel, inhumane. When those who have been deeply traumatized break, they often break others. Their reality, their truth, their pain places them in a horrible place and their reckoning is equally horrifying.
As a white privileged woman, it may look like I have lived an easy, straight, trauma free life. These perceptions are the myths we tell each other and ourselves. Truth is, I suffered, and have reconciled with deep acts of violence that let me to self hate and self punishment through that invited more pain and trauma into my life. I was molested as a little girl by someone I trusted, the details are foggy as my brain blocked the horror, but it’s there. That drove me down a path of being raped by a friend I trusted in high school , which led to promiscuity, drinking and risky behaviour and guilt which let me into a loveless, marriage where I allowed myself, because of my guilt to be treated with indifference and cruelty.
That was 100 years ago. And I am so well today. More than well, in fact I am flourishing, awake, aware, loving , loved, joyful. And yes, it took a minute to get here.
So what’s my point? It’s definitely not to invite pity, or incite people. It’s to demonstrate that these acts, these tests, theses experiences are meant to teach us —- that we can work through it, understand it, break the pattern and heal from it.
We have been hard wiring and normalizing trauma and moral distress in ourselves, our cultures and ultimate in our institutions so deeply for so long, we think it’s just part of life’s journey. We need to begin to normalize speaking about what we’ve been conditioned to hide, it’s there, and it pressing down upon us. We also need to check ourselves and stop taking steps that lead us to trauma in the first place, hurt people, hurt people. So if we can heal and stop hardwiring the conditions that lead to hurt—— inequality, oppression, separation, we wouldn’t have so much to heal from.
Rather than the—- hello, nice to meet you, how are you? I’m fine —-lines we recite to each other, we could say, how are you, really? How is your life really? What happened in your life to get you here? We could normalize talking about our trauma so that we can heal ourselves and each other. Saying it out loud releases it, it often sets us on a journey to work through it and takes us through what we need to do to heal and grow from it.
If you listen close enough to what those around you are really saying, listen with authentic intention, you will learn how to care, actually; you will learn that you do care, and that you want to help, that you need help. Through that, you will heal too.
It’s that connection that can turn the blocks of trauma into a veil that we can actually see through and move beyond. In a world where we have literally and figuratively been wearing masks, we need to do things that expose our souls, who we really are, what we here for and what we need from each other. When we do this we act out of love, and build a bridge that heals self, those we love, our communities and our planet. Just like trauma, love and optimism spreads beyond us through many generations.
We can’t take any of this for granted. This takes work, we must reconcile with the actions we take, the things we say that hurt ourselves, those we love and those around us, and learn from it. When we know better, we do better.
We must turn to love as our compass and ask ourselves at every turn, what would love do?
Love would definitely not harm, speak with anger, create conflict, wage war, segregate, discriminate and it wouldn’t justify division through institutions, policies or legislation.
As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight fire with fire’ method is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community."
He said that decades ago, yet here we are, when will we learn?
We need to be gentle, with ourselves those around us and with this planet. We need to cut the threads of trauma that seek to build a tapestry, because that tapestry will wear out and people will fall through.
The beauty of gentleness is that it, like trauma is layered, It is layered with love, compassion, patience, understanding, and respect for others. When we move through life gently we invite these wonderful gifts into our lives.
We need to stop giving out badges for resilience, being tough is not how you overcome trauma, gentle reconciliation is the path to facing it. It doesn’t fade on its own, it needs compassion, radical compassion. Healing through radical compassion isn’t polite, it messy, and it will clear what needs clearing and create a path to a fully realized life filled with infinite possibility, joy and love that flows over to others who need it most. And within it we will all find; love, acceptance, connection and peace.
Peggy Taillon Founder and President HERA Mission www.heramission.org @heramission 613-769-5499