In the Lives of Wounded Healers
I recently attended a profound and meaningful workshop on holistic trauma healing by the work of Paul Boyle- a wounded healer. I definitely wish to write much more on this but I start here.
Trauma comes into our lives in different forms and at different levels of severity. We witness horrific events or are otherwise the victims of it. Both can have a lasting effect on us. We may not see it coming because, often times, it manifests way later in our lives. If we are lucky enough to get healed, to shift from ‘being victims to being thrivers’, as Paul puts it, we can connect the dots looking backwards and help others in the same journey.
Sometimes we wonder why people behave the way they do, why they hurt us, why they can not step up and listen to us, why they can not love us! But we forget to ask ourselves what may have happened to make this person the way they are. We end up confronting them, getting frustrated and becoming secondary victims of other peoples traumas. The broken break others. NOT ALWAYS. Because the broken are also the ones who are best equipped to support others, if they ACCEPT and overcome their pains and traumas. This is all just a glimpse into how the profound workshop evolved, attached to my own experiences of the same.
I met Paul when I was just 16, and there were many times he played his wounded healer role with me. In supporting my blog, and when he read my thoughts on empathy, he encouraged me to share the effects of my own experiences; he called me to become a wounded healer.
This took me aback. I did not really feel comfortable with the idea of opening up to that extent and probing experiences that I did not really relate to anymore. For me, I no longer saw it as a ‘trauma’ but rather a story I could care to share; but I don’t! Where do I start anyway, I wondered.
Yet, these are not my experiences, they are our experiences, happening daily in our lives or in the lives of people around us.
We can not change the past. What is left of it is the memories. We, maybe, can not change the memories either, but we can change how we remember them!
Children do get to an age, around 8/9, where they begin to get curious about death, even to fear it on those they love. I never had that. I just never imagined that one day my mother might not be within reach. Then, at about age 10, a family friend’s mother died under dubious circumstances. It is in the time where children were not deemed as capable of comprehending certain issues and therefore the adults spoke as though you were a ghost in the room.
I was shocked to hear what they thought had happened as I keenly eavesdropped on the conversations. The children of this lady were younger than I was. Owing to this, I was the little nanny when we played together. That evening, my mother prompted us (my younger brother and I) to dress so we could attend the gathering at the house of the deceased.
Upon reaching, there was a myriad of people, all holding, what seemed to me, incoherent conversations. The noise was disturbingly much for such an occasion, I recall thinking, even if I was just a little girl.
The daughter of the dead mother was overwhelmed by all these strangers in her house. She kept asking, “where is my mum, I want my mum, where is she, call her.” As I am also an introvert in many ways, I stood at a distance in a corner. I was in utter dismay that they had not told her. All the while, they continued holding conversations about it. I kept flicking my fingers and screaming inside myself, “tell her, tell her,” as her screams, too, got louder. They were patting her and not really explaining what had happened, of which she already sensed was something tragic. Eventually, they mentioned something in the likes of the mother not coming back again, and the girl broke into a very distinct, painful and hopeless wail.
I ran into the bathroom, where I locked myself and sobbed for what seemed like eternity.
Little did I know, I was just about two years away from a similar fate, to be possibbly narrated at a different time.
My first childhood memory is of my mother at a train station. I for some reason stared at her and mastered her features. Her skin was ivory white. Her hands were as soft as silk, slightly rosy from the cold. Her smile was reassuring; I felt safe with her. I often times still long for her as an adult, as a mother. Sometimes I feel out of sorts and wish I could have her by my side to make me a cup of chamomile tea, turn out the lights when I fall asleep, sing me a song, tell me a story, let me cry, let me laugh- hysterically, snuggle with her grandchild.
Paul said we should put emphasis on the effects. I want to start from the roots. Childhood!This is such an important building block to the people we become. When we hide the inevitable from children we show them that the world is a place we cannot trust. The world ceases to be safe. We find things just happening to us, and we feel that we are victims of our destinies. That is how I felt in any case.
The glory in my experience is that, as a mother, I value my daughter as a human being worthy of truth, be it bitter; as a human being capable of deciphering the ways of the world and making a choice according to that reality, rather than feeling a victim to fate.
We may not be able to do too much, but we can do little in a big way. We can be wounded and we can heal by the virtue of that. When I think of the effects of traumatic experiences, and where I would start a conversation on it, it went back to childhood — the future adults; they will either heal the world or mistrust it.
By writing these stories, my intention is not to create sombreness. It is to create an atmosphere for critical thinking on the many things we only discuss when we talk of it far outside our own stories: in Syria, in South Sudan… Yet on our part we share a sense of unnatural ultimate happiness and orderliness perpetuated by social media. What about your story, the scar that made you a star?