Let’s Address the Elephant in the Country: Trauma

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”. — Judith Lewis Herman.

As a clinical social worker, my focus has been psychotherapy. I’ve worked with veterans who deal with PTSD every day. I’ve worked with veterans over their heads and drowning in various drug addictions. Addictions which often develop while trying to find a way to cope with traumatic memories.

I am also a trauma survivor. I faced trauma as a child, as a combat soldier, and as a woman. Possibly, these experiences give me a unique perspective or maybe a skewed one. But these words, my opinions, are my unique perspectives on how I see the world.

I understand how an opinion in today’s America can be dangerous. But my hope is we can get to a place where we can hold conversations without worrying about the threat of violence. I hope to help foster much-needed conversations.

It is important to acknowledge our words have power. That physical power is no longer humanity’s most dominant use of control. We hold the power to destroy a person through words and inactions. The emotional pain that results can often feel unbearable.

The loneliness from feeling as though our emotional pain is not heard or worthy of being heard, destroys the stability we may have once felt.

Lost for so many are the connections to what brings joy. Running away moves us not only away from our pain, but also from our connections to our meanings for being. The running starts off as a temporary way to feel less of that loneliness, that disconnection.

Not only are we individually running: we are a nation that is running. We avoid pain. We avoid all suffering, in any way we can, using all matters of vices to avoid feeling any emotional struggle.

We don’t acknowledge the wrongs we have committed as a young country. But as anyone in a form of a recovery program will tell you, at some point, to move forward, you need to acknowledge and take responsibility for your past actions.

Living in denial of our history and the wrongs we have done causes history to repeat. We keep doing the same things, pretending we aren’t, telling ourselves alternative facts from our actual reality. America has been separated into us vs. them.

The us vs. them not only divides our country but makes complex problems impossible to solve. If we are too busy fighting, how do we solve the global problems our next generations face?

A mind in survival mode finds it difficult to understand complex problems. Only the rational mind can do that.

Listen to the people we have wronged. Listen in a way that is not defensive, in a place of acceptance and curiosity. Start from scratch, with a beginner’s ear.

We need to acknowledge the very big problem that continues to haunt us as a nation –the elephant in the room. That elephant is trauma. So much of our nation has been traumatized for generations. We can work to heal and move forward together.

Love and Kindness, Aarika

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