“The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.”

~ Peter Levine

 

 

Chapter 10 Recap:

Phoenix contemplates the concept of letting go as Rafiki shares a poem about releasing control. Amidst the majestic Muir Woods, Phoenix reflects on his ex-girlfriend’s serenity and questions if he can achieve such peace. Rafiki encourages him to focus on self-discovery, prompting Phoenix to ponder the universe’s message.

 

 

 


 

….Rafiki was deep in thought and sighed. Louder. Longer.

 

“What?” I ask, my neck craning more so I can try and see what it is he’s seeing.

 

“Maybe the universe is telling you something?”

 

 

Unraveling Trauma

“What? That I push away the people I love?” I can’t seem to get that faulty belief out of my head.

 

“No.” His answer is short and direct. Then he calmly adds, “Self-care is primary to be present in a relationship.”

 

“I am present,” I argue.

 

“Are you? Or are you constantly searching for validation and the need to be seen?”

 

“I don’t do that anymore.”

 

“And yet you keep saying you pushed her away. That she’s running from you. That you want to know all the answers so you can do better next time.” Rafiki pauses. I know he’s got more to say. I wait.

 

“Phoenix, you need to stop trying to fix and be perfect. You need to just Be. That perfectionism and strive to keep doing better is your trauma,” Rafiki continues. “You crave attention because in your family of origin, children were seen but not heard.”

 

Flashbacks flood my mind.

 

The excitement to see my cousins and family during the holidays yet always tainted with a twinge of fear on the drive over to my grandparent’s house knowing something bad would materialize. And it happens as it always did. The shaming my grandmother did to her children while drunk at the Christmas table and that feeling of disappointment from my mother and uncles at the end of the night, me carrying that shame into the depths of my being.

 

I feel, in my body, the pain of my grandmother cutting me out of her will when my mom died and me trying to understand, yet being treated, at 36 years old, as a child not to be heard, but shut out. Followed by my uncle raging at me on the phone for almost two hours in a drunken stupor because if my grandmother had a heart attack it was my fault to even question her. My feelings did not matter.

 

You crave attention because in your family of origin, children were seen but not heard. Click To Tweet

 

I remember talking to my cousin about our family and her telling me how she stood up to our grandmother when she was a teen saying, “How dare you shame your children?” and later being ostracized for speaking her mind, never to have a loving relationship from our grandmother again.

 

I remember having conversations with my step-sister when our father was dying from pancreatic cancer and she telling me that she worried about me when she was younger; she was able to disengage from visiting due to her father’s turbulent outbursts, yet I never had that option. I had believed for 27 years it was my fault she no longer wanted to come to our house.

 

And then the real kicker. The one I still have not fully healed from. My ex-wife telling me immediately after my stepfather breathed his last breath, when I was 40, that no matter what I did, it was never enough to please that man.

 

I have never truly been seen by the people who were most important to me. I crave and desire to be seen and heard and in doing so I push them away.

 

I thought I gotten better. I didn’t think I was still repeating old habits.

 

My perfectionist piece kicks in again. I still screw up. I can’t do anything right no matter how hard I try.

 

I want to shrivel up in a ball. Disappear. Not be here anymore.

 

What did it matter anyway?

 

Rafiki’s solemn voice interrupts my thoughts, ” Do you remember the premiss of the book, What Happened to You, by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry, ‘Trauma is not about what’s wrong with you, but about what’s happened to you’.”…

 

 

Trauma is not about what's wrong with you, but about what's happened to you. Click To Tweet

 

Chapter 12

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