The Reality

I was not surprised to get a homework assignment after this week’s class. And even less surprised that it involved a case study. What was surprising was how much it opened my eyes.

It’s one thing to talk about trauma. To relate it back to your own experiences. To listen to your classmates talk about theirs. But it’s an entirely different thing to read about a real case of trauma (names and identifying details were changed, obviously) and begin to pull apart the pieces of the trauma. The intergenerational trauma, family mottos, family rules, blatant abuse, and addiction were abundant and for a brief moment, I worried that I wasn’t prepared for this. Could I really separate my sadness for what this “fictional-but-real” person had gone through and begin to help them heal? Especially when I’m still working on my own recovery and healing.

The answer is unequivocally, yes.

The day after class, I found myself thinking about one of the case studies and saying to myself, “huh, I bet this view of X stems from the neglect and abuse caused by Y,” and “There is cause and effect scenario going on here. Because X happened to her when she was a child, she now believes Y and that has led her to Z.” (I’m being intentionally vague for privacy reasons).

Once I realized that I was not only thinking about the case study as if she were a real person, but applying what I was learning, I realized that I’m more than capable of doing this work.

The other part of the assignment was to do the same with our own trauma. What trauma did we have in the past that may have affected our own family mottos, rules and perspectives? For me, this was the easier part (kind of…) the assignment due to the fact that I’ve been in therapy most of my life and I’m fairly self-aware. The hard part is knowing those thing and still struggling with them and learning how to cope. And realizing that certain aspects of my trauma that I didn’t think affected me, actually did.

Each week as I learn more and more about trauma and trauma-informed care, I feel the more and more I’m learning about myself and my own trauma as well. I’m sure this is not only by design but makes for a much more effective coach at the end of the day.

The lens with which we view the world is so very different, but once you start learning things about the mind, body and psychology of it all, you begin to view the world in a completely different way. Take for example: Addiction.

Previously, addiction was in my mind something simple to explain. A chemical imbalance. An ingredient that “hooks” us. A feeling we don’t want to go away. And while I believe that some of that is still true, it wasn’t until I watched this Tedtalk through the lens of trauma-informed care that I realized how misguided most of us are on addiction.

Watch it and try to see addiction in the way that Johann Hari does. It’s amazing what a difference considering a new approach can make.