A-Z Blog Challenge T: Trauma as Initiating Agent.


The Rose with its Thorns

Oscar Wilde: Where there is sorrow there is holy ground (De Profundis)

Many of us have had some kind of trauma in our lives, whether the death of a parent, sibling, grandparent who we’ve loved, or of a partner or loved one; the loss of a job, home, security; betrayal; illness or injury of ourselves or loved ones.  The list is endless. What was once beautiful, has shown its’ hurtful thorns.

A friend of mine here in Johannesburg is feeling totally whacked and weary to the bone. She says she’s seeing so many trauma cases in her clinical practice – this was correspondence via email apropos something else entirely but she mentioned it at the end of her email. I felt for her tender and gentle soul. This got me thinking – could trauma to the individual in a psychological sense be an initiating agent? I’m not speaking of the Holocaust, or the Vietnam war or of those having to flee because of atrocities in their home of origin. That is too big a something to write about here. Individuals such as Victor Frankl, Anne Frank and many many others have written movingly about their experiences. It must be said though that people such as they have looked into the heart of the matter and brought their wisdom to bear on human nature and the ability to rise above trauma, irrespective of how unimaginably damaging. 

I’m thinking of the wounding we may have received as a child in our normally dysfunctional families from eg a cold mother, or an emotionally absent father or a bullying sibling or relative or at school. Or any of the traumas mentioned above at the beginning of my post.

Do we have any helpful guides along the way who can help us hold the trauma, and see into the heart of it? A friend, a therapist, a counsellor, an outreach programme? Do these traumas propel us towards change whereby we can say when there is light at the end of the tunnel: we’ve changed – and for the better for I am now stronger, wiser, more compassionate, not so alone in my feelings of hopelessness. I’m human, like everyone else …

I think of Lilith, first wife of Adam (according to the Midrash) exiled to the depths of the Red Sea for her refusal to obey him and her subsequent blasphemy to God for refusing to hear her plea. Aeons sitting in the depths, wounded to the core. She returned and in disguise offered the apple to Eve which she took and she and Adam were exiled from Paradise. (according to the creation story). Trauma, that kind of wounding leading to a new world to be learned. Rosa Parks, refusing to give up her seat in the bus. Mr. Nelson Mandela spending 27 years in prison yet emerging with peace and forgiveness in his heart. Propelling us forward, all those acts initiated from trauma .. 

Is the rose any more beautiful without its thorns? I don’t think so – the thorns are a timely reminder of beauty and sadness residing together. 

32 Comments on A-Z Blog Challenge T: Trauma as Initiating Agent

  1. Two for T. It’s a good letter. I’ve always had friends to help me through trauma–my father’s death, my teacher’s, my husband’s, and now my brother’s. There were a few more in there, as is true of everyone. My mother was so gone with Alzheimer’s that her death was no trauma at all. I work with a dream therapist for two hours every other week. She helps me mine my experiences–and the unconscious always has a different take on everything, including trauma.

    • Thanks Elaine, so excellent to ground your dream experiences with a therapist. You clearly take them seriously as does the unconscious …

  2. Beauty and pain residing together: You couldn’t have touched more deeply at my core with this one, Susan. Since childhood I have suffered from the trauma of lost loves. It took me years to recognize that that is what it was, and only recently have I realized that those I’m most attracted to are also those who are the most sensitive to lost loves as I am.

    So, I have been at the point presently of thinking how to change this. And, oh, btw, the yellow roses in my garden are excessively thorny — I get wounded just touching one stem — and they are ready to bloom. 🙂

    Thank you for this one.

    • Thank you Samantha for your heat felt comment. It’s true that those who have suffered a real sadness and loss make heart and soul connections with those who have suffered similarly, no matter in which way the trauma was manifested.

      Where there is sorrow there is holy ground .. I love these words of Oscar Wilde because they speak directly, and pierce the heart. Remember them.

      Yup same with my roses .. I get pricked and bleed too ..

      • Oh, absolutely what Oscar Wilde says. I realized when I clicked “submit” that I forgot to mention him. What a wise man and such a beautifully lyrical writer.

        I must read “De Profundis.”

        Thanks, Susan

  3. I like to continue thinking about trauma that can initiate positive health. I consider a biological model and a spiritual model. When first encountering trauma, a person feels confused as in a maze with many doorways. Neurology may say that, if success was experienced in the maze by good choices, a growth of neural assemblies and more efficient associations will thereafter supply the tools for self-therapy. If success had been experienced under Jungian therapy, the person will gratefully travel the maze that is paved by mythology, and with further self-propelled education in analytical psychology, the person will acquire a valuable map of one’s inner and outer self..

    • That is lovely Joseph thank you and thank you for this response. Sometimes recovery from trauma does not happen – and that is how it is. When recovery happens or at least part recovery, this is a blessing indeed.

  4. Traumatic events are not easy to heal and forget; I have met a young girl who was molested by her drunken father while she was sleeping and the trauma was not easy to deal with …. even though we have counselled and helped her, I am not sure whether she is come out of it, another lady I know was threatened by her husband with a knife if she did not sign on the property papers… she is still living with this traumatic experience… help is available and it does take time, effort and appropriate interventions to help the victims come out of trauma… of course we cannot see the rose without thorns. while looking at the rose… we are also bound to see the thorns.. I only pray and hope that those who go through trauma may come out healed and become wounded healers or at least able to accept and move on…

    • Those are such sad stories of real life events Genevive. I so hope that the interventions will work. Many times those who have been so severely wounded and traumatised do become wounded healers. I also hope and pray for them. It may take a lot of time.

  5. If we look, we can find someone who has gone before us in the journey. That’s why counseling is helpful, or meeting in groups for AA, Al-Anon, abuse recovery, all of that. Someone knowing you’re not alone goes a long ways in healing the wounds. That’s why it’s also important to share our stories.

    • Thanks Stephanie, it’s amazing what life teaches us through all our ups and downs and as you say to appreciate the good things even more!

  6. Interesting alternate story of Adam and Eve, one that I had not heard before. I have heard of Lilith, but not her role in giving the apple to Eve. Thank you for sharing. Haven’t had much chance to blog hop this year, but wanted to say hi! Maui Jungalow

  7. When I was 3 years old, I got stung by a bee! I didn’t know the word, trauma, but I yelled like all-heck! My mother & father quickly decided on child-therapy. Here, Little Yossickle, here is some honey that the be has made. We will put some honey on the sting, and you can also lick the spoon.
    What an interesting situation of opposites. The bee is good and the bee is bad. Also, something bad happened to you, and at the same time you can begin to see the light of something good, as well.

  8. Hi Susan – the rose is more precious with its thorns I’d say – thankfully there are many in the world who act selflessly and people who will help others and guide them …

    The thought of a rose now – is just so lovely – that scent is so intoxicating … cheers Hilary

    • Thanks for coming by Hilary … we’re back. I know that you responded to my other T post which I thought I had lost hence putting up this one too which came as a huge surprise to me when I checked last night. Anyway – a few roses are budding in my garden thorns and all ..

    • Thanks Pat – it can lead to change indeed, unless we get terribly stuck and refuse to budge. But, it can take time for the change to be of use.

  9. I have experienced a variety of traumas in my life as we all have. In my case it took therapy to help me overcome these bumps in my life. Trauma can be good if you use it as a form of transformation and healing. Thanks for your interesting post.

  10. Thanks again Susan! My last name is van Doorn and it translate into thorns. My father wrote a book for us called” Of Roses and Thorns” about his live with that intended word play of our last name in mind. It was his gift to us, to make us understand him better and to read in whenvere we had questions after he was gone. I plan to do the same for my children. Maybe not a whole book but just soem kind reminders for them to read when they feel beaten by life.

    • This is rather extraordinary Susanne! The beauty of the rose is in part its thorns …Thank you for coming by, I am really amazed.

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