The term “trauma” gets thrown around a lot in the context of personal growth. When I first started on my journey, I believed that trauma resulted from a catastrophic event or unhealthy environment…that it was reserved for victims of extreme suffering brought on by poverty, physical abuse or being raised by a parent battling addiction. I struggled to see how healing from trauma could be relevant for me, because I didn’t believe I had any.
While extreme poverty, abuse and addiction are certainly examples of situations that can breed trauma, the human experience itself exposes us to trauma. Growing up in an oppressive household or culture. Getting bullied. Experiencing complicated family dynamics. Living in a misogynistic culture. We all have trauma, and a lot of it stems from our formative years as children. Just because other people might have more acute trauma doesn’t mean that our own is invalidated or unfounded. Like me, you can’t address trauma until you know it’s there.
It’s so easy to let that pain – whether we acknowledge it or not – fester as adults. We see patterns in our lives like finding ourselves in the same types of relationships, work environments or stagnant situations, but don’t understand why. Until we identify the culprit, the fear, the insecurity that’s become our inner compass, we will continue to attract and find ourselves in these unhealthy situations, time and time again.
If we don’t acknowledge our trauma and work to heal it, we find ourselves letting it dictate the direction of our lives. We give it power.
As new parents, my husband and I have been very conscientious about working on ourselves, not only because it’s healthy for us individually and as a couple, but also so that we don’t pass our trauma on to our children. If allowed, trauma will spill over into every aspect of our lives, including our ability to parent; the work we’re doing will help ensure that the cycle of patterns ends with us and doesn’t get passed to the next generation.