The Teachers describe trauma as a catalyst for change––it provides an opportunity for transformation. Trauma shakes up the status quo, changes a person’s perspective on the world, and opens a window for different thinking and behavior. Although I have experienced and healed many traumas in my life, one stands out as a long-term challenge.
Years ago, my husband had a secret girlfriend, who was also a family friend. I found out when she was present at the home birth of our daughter. This betrayal, at a time of great vulnerability, was like a rape. Afterward, neither my husband nor this friend would apologize for their behavior. They claimed that their relationship was “the most honest relationship ever”, even though it involved years of lying and cheating. I lost my home and, most painfully, half of my time with my children as they grew up. I’ve finally realized what has made this trauma so hard to heal––it is ongoing. I see these people on a regular basis, and have to interact with them to co-parent. It’s like seeing your rapist in the supermarket. It’s a PTSD trigger, every time.
Healing is a process, and I have slowly improved my ability to handle this regular assault. I had a positive breakthrough recently while I was out in the woods by myself for five days. Connecting with Nature is always beneficial. It allows a whole-body integration of the bigger view. This is what occurred:
I remembered a latin term cited by author John Greene: omnis cellula e cellula, which means “all cells come from cells”. In other words, all cells come from other cells. And all cells come, way back in infinity, from the same original cell. All living beings, all plants and animals, including humans, are all related.
That made me realize that my cheating husband, and this girlfriend, and I, are related. On a cellular level, in cellular history, we are part of the same One, the same body. It’s like cancer. The cells demonstrate something gone wrong, they are unwanted and lethal, but they are of my body. If I wanted to hate them, then I would be hating my own body. I can despise the lying and betrayal, the behavior of those cells, but that just creates more negative energy, more illness.
I surgically (cancer) and legally (divorce) excised those cells. I sent them back into the Universe. That happened in the past. But it did not remove the trauma that was created by those toxic cells, the consequence of their occurrence. That is something I live with. This is me, after cancer. This is me, after other people’s poor choices. I am changed by the trauma.
I cannot make choices for other people. I am responsible for my own. I am standing on the earth. My feet are touching it. Everything is touching it, even the air. I have a responsibility to honor the gift of my time here by embodying Life Force––the positive, forward-moving, creative energy of every cell ever made. Trauma gives me the opportunity to re-see and to practice this way of being in the world.
powerful story Ms. Shoals, You are right to celebrate your strength even as you are faced with constant reminder of this experience and I applaud your strength. I have a question what if the trauma happen when you were a small child and you have forgotten everything about it but the pain, and the shadow it has cast on your life? what then?
That is an interesting question. The biggest trauma in my life occurred in kindergarten, when I survived a rape. I was unable to get any support from my family, and over the years my feelings got pushed further and further down until I was unaware of them. They surfaced in young adulthood, however, as poor personal choices which forced those feelings to the surface.
I can never know everything about the original situation. It was filtered by the mind of a five year old. But I have been able to heal this trauma by reclaiming what had been lost––what my psyche grieved and what was showing up as pain. The facts don’t matter as much as the feelings. Facts can’t be changed. Feelings can be transformed.
There is something about being present with the spiritual world, the Great Mystery, that helps to put things in perspective. When I see the person who caused my pain, and also see myself, as part of the Everything That Is, I can start to realize that what happened to me is not as personal as I thought it was. I can begin to understand and release some of that pain. You might find some help in Grandmother Dreams p. 61-62 ?