So you’re here, and I’m here talking about healing. Perhaps you’re here on purpose looking for healing. Or perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, I’m pretty healthy and happy, and I do fairly well in life. Isn’t healing mostly needed by people severely debilitated by trauma? Do I need healing, too? The honest answer is that I don’t know, but allow me to ask a question that’s easier to answer: did you have a perfect childhood?
I’m talking about the kind of childhood that so many of us aspire to provide for our children, where we read at least two books on how to establish a secure bond with our babies and how to raise the happiest toddler on the block by being armed with the skills and strategies necessary to avoid “losing it” and hurting our children physically and emotionally – like when your three-year-old throws her third tantrum because she wants more chocolate or does not want to leave the playroom.
To those lucky few who had a happy childhood, congratulations! But here’s another question: how many of your friends had a perfect childhood?
I am someone who loves to get to know, deeply know, everyone I meet, so I am blessed to have built so many meaningful friendships. I’d say I know about 60 out of 200 Facebook friends extremely well – people who trust me and share their lives with me – and I can tell you with all certainty that out of those 60 friends in my age group, only four truly had a close to “perfect” childhood.
Their moms and dads coached their sports teams, picked them up from school, and were consistently “present”, caring and thoughtful. Overall, they had attentive parents who made them feel loved and prioritized, who “heard” them and “saw” them, and their parents themselves had happy marriages. (I personally know their parents, and indeed, they are wonderful people in loving marriages.)
No wonder these are the few friends I have who married their soulmate the first time, succeed in extraordinary careers, and live happy and fulfilling lives.
But sadly, this is not the norm.
There’s this (not so) little thing called trauma. It’s considered any event we have experienced that was disturbing and has affected our sense of self or our perceptions of life, but it can also consist of things that did not happen to us.
In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van-Der Kolk shares that:
- One quarter of Americans have been sexually molested
- One quarter of Americans have been beaten to the point of injury with marks to tell the tale
- One third of couples experience physical violence, meaning this occurs every 20 minutes in the USA
- One quarter of Americans grew up with an alcoholic parent
- One fifth of Americans have witnessed their mother being beaten
One fifth of Americans represents a total of 70 million people! And those stats represent people from all walks of life with different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. That also means that from my group of 60 friends, who are all college educated and mostly white, a quarter of them were sexually molested by uncles, other family members, family friends, or trusted individuals – like priests.
According to the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other forms of trauma are considered to be physical abuse of any kind, sexual abuse, emotional abuse (e.g. name calling), physical neglect, emotional neglect, growing up in a home where you witnessed your mother treated violently, substance abuse (e.g. alcohol or drugs), mental illness, and the loss of a parent to divorce, death, or incarceration.
This is all huge, capital-T trauma. When the abuse is recurrent, the victims often suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, are suicidal, or perpetuate the same traumas inflicted upon them.
I believe that everything wrong with the world today – violent crimes, sexual assault, drug addiction, depression, gun violence, and an increase in suicides – is not all due to the proliferation of drugs, opioids, and guns; it is due to a lack of deep healing.
So, do you need healing? I personally believe that most of us do.
I believe that there is a lack of awareness and education of the profound effects of small “t” trauma and big “T” trauma and its treatment. At a micro level, it affects us in our romantic relationships, at home and at work. At a macro and political level, a lot of effort and money are spent on prevention e.g. policing and incarceration, but very little actually addresses the root cause. We must do more. We must heal the walking wounded.
One of the purposes of HealIn is to demystify trauma, increase awareness of every single modality and method that is currently available out there to heal and rehabilitate us all and address our collective need to heal so that we can feel better, do better and be better.
So, do you need healing? What childhood events do you recall that might appear “normal” in our society, but they’ve left a mark on you? In my next blog, you’ll feel validated in what you already know to be true.