It happens. Over and over. Blogging wears on me, seems like a waste of time, and I quit doing it. Then the nagging discomfort begins: ideas need expression; without incoming comments I feel more alone. And so…
Last week I wrote seven blog posts. Each is just under six hundred words and covers some aspect of recovery from childhood hardship. The pieces are not for WillSpirit. They’ll be posted weekly on a new blog hosted by a site devoted to healing after trauma. (I’ll announce the new URL once everything’s finalized.)
Writing those pieces taught me a few things. First, shorter essays require more concise and focused language; so I’m going to try to impose a word limit here. Second, immersing myself in trauma literature stirs up a lot of emotion. How could it not be distressing to acknowledge how much difficulty traces to abuse, bereavement, and neglect in childhood? This goes beyond the personal: many public health problems and conflicts result from early pain (see below). Finally, I see that despite all my hard work on myself, obstacles common to many trauma survivors continue to stand in my way; in particular, a strong tendency to isolate rather than reach out.
So I’m writing again. Aiming for shorter essays. Working out my distress. Opening up to others.
Does blogging count as reaching out? At times, it’s the best I can do. Which draws the whole problem of trauma into focus: it makes most difficult that which is most necessary.
To heal we need openness, trust, vulnerability, lightheartedness, self-love, hope, and much more. Notice a trend here? We who come from traumatic backgrounds often find such qualities terrifying. That which heals, horrifies. At least until we gain some recovery, and even then moving toward genuine connection requires substantial courage.
Courage I don’t always possess. But one way to find fortitude is to shift the focus away from the self and onto the bigger picture:
Recent epidemiological information about the effects of early trauma reveals alarming truths. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study proved that even in an employed middle-class Kaiser population, more than half the subjects experienced significant childhood adversity growing up. Other studies have shown that rates and severity of trauma are much higher among the homeless, the addicted, and other struggling groups.
The ACE Study also showed that poor health outcomes rise in proportion to childhood hardship. Rates of lung, liver, and heart disease are all correlated. So are depressive episodes, psychiatric medications, suicide attempts, alcoholism, smoking, and addictions of all kinds.
The study authors conclude that early adversity underlies many of the most important public health problems of our day. As the traumatized endeavor to cope with strong painful emotions, they turn to behaviors that provide short-term relief (like smoking) at the expense of long-term ill-health.
Well, that’s the bad news. Let’s focus on the more comforting tidbits one gleans from reading about trauma:
- We aren’t alone. If so many suffer from trauma’s aftereffects, then feeling unique in our suffering no longer makes sense.
- Trauma affects each person differently but causes enough common difficulty that we can understand one another.
- Healing happens, and it happens most when we come together in community. Even in community online.
For today, I’m back online. Writing is like recovery: it happens one day at a time. We strive to open up, to reach out, to accept, and to heal by working one day, one word, at a time.Share on Facebook