Trauma touches us all. Each of us, personally and communally will face things that change our reality without our permission. Each of us will experience natural responses as our mind and body wrestle with a new reality. Understanding how trauma impacts us can help us recover from the past, be more resilient in the future and seek healing along the way.
From the experience of harm to the harmful steps we take in the name of self-protection, we will explore how trauma cycles through our lives. By understanding the biological and emotional responses of our body, we can trace the impact on our bodies and our relationships. Understanding these cycles can help us break free from the gravitational pull of these harms and blaze new trails in the future.
This is not an easy task. Being honest with ourselves is sometimes a challenge. Pushing back on social norms can be complicated. Things are even easier when the trauma is woven into our very being. Those marginalized for their SOGIE, ethnic, or cultural identity face unique challenges. Abuse from others is hurtful, compounded by the internal dialogue that arises from social messaging and personal insecurity.
There is a simple narrative that describes the ways we collectively share trauma: “hurt people, hurt people.” While it is intended to illustrate the need for healing so we don’t perpetuate these harms, it can often be taken as a prophetic statement by those who doubt their own worth. They assume that if they have been hurt, or if they feel broken, they are bound to hurt people. Educators at Eastern Mennonite University have suggested this phrasing instead: “Trauma that we do not transform will be transferred.” This reminds us that there is space for healing and that we each poses the potential to break old cycles and create a new, healthier, future for everyone.
Specific topics to be covered include: forming memories, fight or flight (or freeze), emotional repression, blame narratives, fantasies of revenge, reframing our questions, healthy memorials or milestones, and the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.