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.