Curiosity, exploration, gentleness, loving kindness... this is how we can honourably treat trauma when it arises. That intolerable pressure and pain of a trigger... rather than it be nails on a chalkboard can it be a small infant pressed again your chest receiving your warmth and love? Can it be tending a wounded bird where the soft flutter of feathers shuddering in fear are lulled into a quiet sleep, nested in the soft warmth of your compassion?
Can we treat the body not as an enemy but as our home whose dysregulation is an invitation to be present, to notice what is happening. Perhaps it is our schedule, our work, our tasks, our commitments, and the impingement of systemic oppressions and disempowerment that need to stop, and not the feelings arising? Perhaps embracing the schedule of our body is where we need to go to seek truth. Perhaps those triggers need soothing not rage. Perhaps our pain needs attention not disgust. Perhaps we need to put down our intellectual rigidity and allow our heart to take the wheel. Perhaps we need to awake to the reality of our experience as our ultimate truth. The body does not lie.
Some days the personal journey is one filled with wonder and spontaneity. Others it is an endless drone of what feels like an eternity of nothingness and an abyss opening beneath us over which we hover, staring into the void.
Trauma is an unpredictable dark passenger - how do we make peace with what at its core tells us it does not want to be known and yet constantly announces itself? Trauma is the splintering off from the knowing mind of unprocessed excruciating experience - and in the splintering, narratives and stories, like hyphenated glue tearing apart and holding together that intolerable push and pull of trauma related experiencing and inner narrative – the contradiction of knowing and not knowing.
How do we reconcile the corners we have through agency, uncontrolled conditions and unconscious patterning gotten into? When we stop and look at our lives, consumed with grief and blind rage, fists pounding and crying, and ask, "how did I get here?"; how do we answer that question?
The difficult truth is there is no easy answer... There is no quick fix, there is no catharsis that can undo or reprogram. No shamanic ayahuasca journey, no sweat lodge, no weekend warrior, no online course, no tarot reading, no energy balancing, no cheap pastiche of culturally appropriated practices, no ersatz totems or fetishes, no crystal pendulum swinging over your handwriting will repair and do the work of healing for you. No one has the answer or the unique key to unlock your inner pattern. Ethical therapists like me have tools we can offer, loving space and to hold and bear witness to you, but it is up to you and your access to, community, safety, shelter, stability, love and support that will allow you to make them your own.
And so how do I explain healing from trauma? It is the trickle of a new stream which needs time, gravity and a continuous flow to pick up speed and to create a new track - a new way in which to navigate life. And how hard is it to believe in the small flow of a fresh stream when the raging flash flood of trauma can unleash at anytime and drown you? Worse, in those moments of drowning and intense vulnerability we reach out and will grab onto anything... and there are fisherman who perch like predators waiting to hook you: they take your trauma and convert it into money and in exchange offer lies and deceit; gaslighting you, saying that pain you feel, of their digging their hooks into you, is your fault... you chose to be there, the flaw is with you, this is the journey your soul chose. If you listen closely, in the background you can hear that sucking sound of the siphoning off of your lucre into the ping of eTransfers. Like succubae they don’t need you to get well, they need you to stay in your trauma pattern because that is their business model.
I would like to think I am not a fisherman but in fact a fish that swims with you in the stream wherever you are, I am beside you and fully accept what is happening without judgment or reproach. I may nudge you to notice the ways in which you swim against the stream, the ways in which you avoid accountability but I will not offer false promises or false models of healing. I stay with you where you are and help you figure out where you want to go. But at the end of it I do not have the answer, which I know can make working with me incredibly infuriating and frustrating. God knows I have had some pissed clients who want me to fix things for them. But I keep saying this… there is no easy way out and in the depths of suffering many of us want an easy way out. I know, I’ve been there. I know the desperation. I know the temptation. I know how the filter of instahealing can draw a person in. But I no longer feel the urge to take the bait... this is what makes me a good fish to swim with.
At the end of the day, trauma work is not flashy or exciting, it is not a shiny promise; it is the plodding relentlessness of a daily commitment to the banal task of being kind, being patient, being gentle, being accepting, being curious, being accountable and coping or thriving in the conditions of life which may hinder or aid... Healing is hands down the hardest work you will ever do in your life. Anyone who tells you anything less with a flashy white bleached smile and a ™ or a © behind their name has a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
photograph of my kid #2 2018
inspired by the works and writings of Emila Symington Fedy on facebook and the article on Medium by Torrie M. Pattillo