Standing in the checkout line at the supermarket, my eye caught the title of the Time documentary, “1968 – The Year That Shaped a Generation”. I was 16 in 1968. I became a changed person that year.
That was the year I would cry when I went to bed at night, the next morning, cry in the shower. A few times I cried at school. When the crying started, I could not stop. Once my High School teacher asked me if I wanted to go home. No, that was the last place I wanted to be.
When I was home I wanted to be invisible, I had lost my voice. I went to my room after school, came down for dinner, and went back to my room. My mom asked me once at dinner if I was on drugs because I just started and quit talking.
I had two brothers, 1 year older, and 1 ½ year younger. My older brother loved listening to loud music by the Beatles. He bought a Volkswagen Beetle and totaled it the next week. He grew long hair, and my dad’s punishment was taking him to the barber for a burr.
My younger brother was diagnosed with a very rare bone disorder and had been told by his doctors at Children’s Hospital he would stop growing. He was in so much pain, he had to crawl up the stairs some nights to bed. He prayed at night “Dear God, please when I wake up in the morning, make me tall”. When he woke up the next morning he would not be tall.
The Vietnam War was escalating. My friends were having discussions about how to evade the draft. Martin Luther King was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. The Civil Rights Movement was escalating with increasing violent riots in cities surrounding my community.
My personality changed. I was the happy, smiling, “girl next door”, always taking the lead in planning the next fun activity and adventures for the neighborhood, prior to 1968.
In 1968, I became invisible and lost my voice. I was carrying the pain for the entire family, and could not stop crying. Now, with 40 years nursing experience, 23 years hospice experience, and 7 years developing a program caring for Veterans at end of life, bearing witness for the stories of trauma, holding a sacred space for the telling of their stories. Bearing witness comes with a cost.
Families are hearing stories for the first time after 40, 50, maybe 60 years – horrific stories they do not want to hear. Triggers of trauma frozen in the sensory and nervous system. Bearing witness, holding a safe, sacred space for the trauma story is a pillar for trauma recovery.
As I reflect on the 50th Anniversary of 1968, I now have a greater awareness of my triggers of frozen trauma, finding my voice. I may help you recover from trauma, possibly frozen trauma for the past 50 years, and to find your voice.