Trauma

A friend recently gave me a book about living with trauma, hoping that a comprehensive self-examination of all yesterday’s life stresses might help me with Parkinson’s disease today. The book, The Transformation by James Gordon, introduces many practical tools, some of which are well known, while others challenged a meditation of the past with methods unfamiliar to me.

In looking at my life through the lens of past traumas, both big and small, I first discovered that there were an awful lot of occurrences. I’m not just talking about physical, life-threatening distress, but also of far more common issues, such as a mid-high school move from overseas back to New York that looks relatively benign now but really shook me up at the time. When I reflect on the incident, I experience a wave of emotion, proving that it still affects my life, probably in ways hidden from conscious thought.

Granted, some sort of hierarchy exists on the list with the most impactful, such as killing in war, receiving my attention long ago. Nonetheless, that leaves many other traumas in some ways as fresh and frightening as the day they occurred.

It is only at age 59 that I am attempting to explore all of the past trauma in my life. I suppose I assumed that their influence would dissolve with time. They have not. I’ve found it helpful to conduct this exercise without judgment or labels: whatever happened, happened, and the distortions of fault or values are immaterial.

A compassionate curiosity about yourself, accepting the rich depth of humanity that is life experience, might be a gateway to contentment, a path to inner peace paved with kindness and understanding, especially for yourself.

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