Monday, June 15, 2009

Rotten Potato

None of us grow up totally unscarred by events of our childhood. Most of us adjust our world view to allow us to shed these events and become fairly well adjusted adults. If painful events carry on into young adulthood, it is harder to become or stay well adjusted, but it is still possible to overcome the negativity, take charge of ourselves, and proceed to build a satisfying life. The secret seems to be to take control of our selves and how we relate to the world around us. We are not able to control all the circumstances or events in our lives, but we can control our own role, how we act, react and view life. The old saw of "Life is what you make it" is true but I would add "Life is how you see it."

Sometimes events are so traumatic that the person shows the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and needs help to get beyond it. The help can be very effective but there are too many instances where the help is misdirected. Although self help groups are often successful, I have seen many instances where all that is accomplished is to lead the person to blame their own behavior on past injuries, emotional or physical. This traps the person in a situation where there is no responsibility for their actions or their place in life. Instead of growing into a realization that they can control their way of being in the world, they learn that it is always someone else’s fault. They opt out, and pay a heavy price for this. As time goes by, the pack of anger, resentment and helplessness grows bigger, often to the point that there are no happy times in their life at all.

Even when they wish to recover and move on, it is not easy. The first step in moving on is to let go of the anger, resentment and helplessness in order to claim themselves and their lives. Being master of self is true power. In order to do so, it is necessary to bring closure, usually by forgiveness. Forgiveness is not given for the benefit of those who have wronged us, it is for our own benefit. Finding out what forgiveness is can be incredibly daunting and may require a long and intense search. Then it is necessary to determine how to bring it about. One can understand mentally all that is involved in forgiveness, and still not feel in their heart how to make it happen.

With time and effort, all may fall into place and create the “aha” moment, that moment when we realize that we no longer harbor ill will toward those who have hurt us and who we have made a career of hating. I have heard the experience described as having the sensation of a scab falling off... the flesh underneath being finally healed enough to fend for itself… Natures band aid. All the struggling suddenly feeling unnecessary … it happened when it was “time”. Actually the understanding was the result of the entire struggle that went before. It now becomes possible to root out that rotten potato that was poisoning the whole life and actually feel so light that one has the sensation of floating just above the ground when walking in the world.

I wrote Earthbound many years ago, when I had to learn to forgive in order to allow my own life to go on and to continue growing. I have been on this path all my life and it has not been easy. Sometimes I felt it was impossible but I found a way. For me, understanding came while I was watching a sunbeam dancing on a dew covered spider web. The struggle to be free showed me that I had to free myself or end up stuck in that spider web for life, never learning, never growing, never continuing on my path in this life.

The one tool that was the most helpful for me was meditation. It allowed me to get in touch with my inner strength and find solace when I felt my life was at it’s lowest ebb. I am not sure I would have had the strength without it.

A man once said “Come fly with me.”
And though I wanted honestly
To join him in the sky and soar,
I was earthbound by the pack I wore.
I could not leave my pack behind
For it contained this past of mine,
Remnants kept for security,
And I must plod through eternity.
Strewn along my plodding way
Other packs I found each day
‘Till yesterday, I heaved a sigh,
Shrugged off mine, and began to fly.


Michele Rosenthal said...

As a trauma survvivor I can say you are 100% correct in suggesting we need to release and let go. But what a difficult thing that is to do!

So often who we become after trauma becomes so familiar we don't know who to be if we give that up. One of the biggest problems I experienced (and see in other survivors) is the issue of identity. We begin to only be able to define ourselves by the past and so we disconnect from ourselves in the present and never find ourselves in the future.

Meditation is a good way to begin forging a reconnection. So is deliberately constructing a post-trauma identity.

Zareba said...

Thank you so much, Michele, for your comment. I know this is a very large problem in our society, and there are far too few solutions.

All I can really comment on is my own experiences and those that I saw.

One thing that made a difference for me was the fact I had major responsibilities and had to continue as if I were still alive. When we pretend something is so for long enough, it becomes so and after quite a long while, I found myself coming to life again.

With that, I realized I did not want to pass on the pain and disfunction to my children and began to attempt my own recovery.

The journey back begins with forgiveness, or at leas the attempt at it. We need to keep trying until we get it right. I did not find any benefit in self help groups because it felt more like a "complain and be vindicated" session. Recognition of the problem seemed to come with pernission for any behavior I chose to exibit. There was recognition but no road map to get back to normalcy.

Another thing that helps to recreate one's self is to be of service to others. When we try to help others, we are suddenly outside ourselves, able to move past the pain and numbness to offer simple human acceptance to another. The very act of helping others helps us as well. We are all teachers, we are all students. When we get outside ourselves we realize we are not the only one who feels a particular way, and seeing our emotions mirrored back to us allows us to begin working through them. I think this was the original purpose of self help groups, but few of them accomplish this goal.

I have previously written on forgiveness and will repost here. I would also like to post this response on the body of my blog as you raise real issues that are also experienced by many others.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hi H...

I don't think that what I write is either creative or original. I simply write my life and hope it helps others through such difficulties in theirs. As I get older, and hopefullty wiser, the writing becomes deeper.

I began writing in my teens and at 65 I am still at it.

Thanks for reading and commenting,please continue, I value your comments. I hope you enjoy.

I am off for lithopripsy again tomorrow and may be in the place we met soon.

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