The Virtue of Healing Childhood Wounds

During this time of political upheaval and chaos, I cannot help but see so many in positions of power – most especially Donald Trump- as The Walking Wounded. Whether it is his inability to lose, his refusal to relinquish power, or his absolute disregard for what is right, in my mind he is the epitome of childhood traumas run amok.  He was emotionally and psychologically abused by his father and now he is the untreated adult; a toddler mentality but with the power to throw the most destructive fits. Trump is the picture of unhealed trauma playing out on our world stage. His blatant unawareness is extremely unattractive. He, along with others in his circle of influence, appears completely disconnected from any whisper of spirit, any basic plea of the heart to look within, to reflect, to acknowledge his own trauma.  I would bet their whole lives are an avoidance of facing their wounds, no matter the trauma they inflict on others.

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In his book The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer tells the story of a man who suffers from a thorn in his body. He goes to great length to avoid bumping this thorn so that he can live as pain-free as possible with the thorn still inside of him.  Of course, this limits his range of motion and emotions, and it also takes an enormous amount of energy to live this way. When life does clash with his thorn, he feels pain and strikes out or doubles down on his efforts to avoid the irritation in the future. I am sure you can guess that the answer to the man’s dilemma was to remove the thorn and live a life of freedom and happiness. But the point of the story is that so many of us have “thorns”, typically born of childhood trauma, that we spend a lifetime trying to avoid, rather than healing.

Perhaps we don’t realize we are living in a way that is designed to avoid our trauma until some habitual behavior- meant to numb us from our painful feelings – becomes addictive and destructive, affecting our mental or physical health or relationships. Or maybe our “thorn” is bumped and it triggers a reaction out of proportion to the actual event.

Maybe we don’t even consciously know that the thorn is there because we have few memories of the original traumas or we hit a wall of emotional numbness when recalling them. The lack of feeling when recalling a painful event is usually due to “splitting”.  The following article describes this phenomenon, and though the author focuses on very sensitive children, I believe that all children are vulnerable to ‘splitting’ when faced with very adverse experiences. https://www.eggshelltherapy.com/a-split-in-our-personality/

 Thankfully, most of us never come close to reaching a level of such widespread destruction as our 45th president. But we harm ourselves every day that we choose to leave the thorn in place. Awareness and acknowledgement of childhood trauma is the first step to healing and most people have at least some unprocessed trauma. Processing the grief and anger are crucial steps to removing the thorn.  Time does not heal all wounds. If left untreated, they can fester, lead to health and relationship problems, addictions – both soft and deadly – and can generally diminish one’s quality of life. If we guard ourselves against feeling our worst pain, we also miss out on our greatest joy, love and connection. Healing our wounds is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others.