Your mind and body sometimes work in tandem. Other times they act like two wet cats in a bag. Diametrically opposed forces. Our natural survival instinct is to quell pain upon detection, in any way possible. So when we’re exposed to trauma at early ages, without the necessary coping mechanisms, it can lead us down dark roads. Our minds will attempt to escape at any cost. A lot of times this manifests as negative thought patterns and bad habits. Picking up smoking at 11, drinking at 12. Bleak and defeatist mindsets, low self esteem, being conditioned into cynical views about the world and our place in it. Before our prefrontal lobes are even halfway done developing. Cognitive distortions abound before we’re even old enough to understand them.
As I read about trauma informed care, I’m faced with the perplexing yet comforting fact that my experiences are in no way unique. 61% of adults have at least one ACE; adverse childhood experience. These are things like abuse, neglect, violence; dealing with parental mental health issues, substance abuse, or separation. One in six of that 61% experience more than 4 ACEs in childhood. Women and minority groups are at greater risk of experiencing multiple ACEs; and are at greater risk of not seeking treatment. Trauma informed care is a model that helps to treat a person comprehensively, with their entire life’s timeline of experiences taken into account. Addicts and depressives are not born, we’re made. Before we get any say in our development.
It takes the most difficult type of work to rectify this conditioning. There are no shortcuts. You can’t do it numb. The only path is to feel everything your protective instincts are trying desperately to block. You must experience the pain. You have to accept it, sit in it, resist the overwhelming temptation to run so far the fuck away. You have to look inside and forgive yourself; which is sometimes the hardest type of self care to administer. You have to understand and believe that you are not your trauma. I’m certainly still working on it.