Thursday, December 1, 2022
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Trauma that does not transform you, you pass on


It’s important to know that there are many different forms of trauma, and not necessarily what you would expect, such as being in a car accident, being a soldier on the front line, or being sexually assaulted. We can become traumatized in many ways; we often carry our trauma with us as wounds from our childhood. Even people who think they had quite a decent upbringing can still carry trauma, in varying degrees.

“Trauma that does not transform you, you pass on.”

So what do we mean by the title of this article and the quote from above? A prime example is the horrific events that took place in Canada during colonialism and continued into the 1990s: the mass extermination, cultural genocide, and displacement of indigenous peoples . Thousands of children were taken from their homes and forced to go to boarding school, where they were not allowed to speak in their mother tongue, were physically abused and sexually abused.

With no means of coping with these horrific events at the time, many traumatized indigenous people turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with all the unresolved pain they were carrying. Several generations later, alcoholism is still a huge problem in Canada’s indigenous reservations. These younger generations, of course, were not directly exposed to the same type of trauma as their ancestors, but because those ancestors were never able to cope with their pain, it was passed on to the next generations, and many of them still struggle with alcoholism today. Because trauma that doesn’t transform you, you pass on.

I can talk about this, because alcoholism is also common in my family. I’ve had my own struggles with addiction, but the more I can process my pain, the less likely I am to pass this pain on to my own children—should I choose to have them.

It has been said that the first in the family to awaken often bears the heaviest burden of healing trauma of the entire family tree of ancestors—and each time we do this work, our ancestors rejoice that we choose to cycle the cycle into a end, and that we do what it takes to heal, rather than pass on our trauma to the next generations.

A step back to the time of our current life

Take, for example, a man who physically abuses his wife – perhaps when he was younger he saw his father do this to his own mother, which is extremely traumatic for a child to experience. If he does not process this trauma, the child grows up to be a man who abuses his own wife. Because he knows no other way to express himself, this pain can manifest as abusive behavior. But it can also be a catalyst for healing.

Fortunately, we live in a time where people are becoming aware of the importance of working sincerely on ourselves, so many of us are breaking the cycles of our family tree.

The video below is a TedTalk given by  Tabitha Mpamira  and it gives some excellent examples on the subject.

To close with

It is inevitable: pain that you do not process, you pass on. It is important to do what it takes to free yourself from pain and from your trauma, not only to free yourself, but to free everyone from this cycle. This is all an aspect of what it takes to make the new planet we dream of, and also touches on my motto: ‘change starts from within’. It starts with us, each of us taking serious responsibility for ourselves, for our actions and for how we interact with those around us.

“Everyone wants to change the world, but nobody wants to be the change.”

It’s time.


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