Adults must hold the safe space through individual, collective, ancestral trauma recovery, while assuming every child has PTSD these days until proven otherwise.
The felt sense of safety and trust in “helpers” is vital for a child trauma survivor’s recovery. The adult who grows up and shows up is the adult who is being fully present in the moment, with what is in that moment. Oftentimes, survivors of trauma may not find the words to talk about their experiences or symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) or PTSD because their “clinician”, “helper”, parent, teacher, healer, does not show openness or competency to listen to their stories of horror. When the adult is not aware of the effects of violence in their own life, it becomes difficult to show up and be present, fully present, to the symptoms of PTSD in a child.
The culture of violence is such a part of the life we live, that we think this is normal. We are not even aware of living in fight/flight. Our nervous system is always on alert for danger, and we have been exploited. Consider the money being spent for violence, like a narcotic. We are reacting out of fear.
When children are living with violence, they are living in fear. Without awareness, we think living like this is normal.
The ability to respond rather than react, is the responsibility of each individual adult. The ability to respond includes rooting out all violence in your life. To root out violence begins with an awareness of the violent culture we live in. Without being aware we think this culture of violence is “normal”, and we are reacting, living in fight/flight/freeze. When we root out all violence in our own life, we experience safety within our own nervous system. Our physical body has an Intelligence. Our body knows the score, and knows when we are not in a safe place, and when we are in a safe place. The safe place is where we are resting and digesting what is happening in this moment, where we are in our world.
“We each live with our own Vietnam”.
As I began understanding war trauma, and experiencing collective war trauma in our culture, I learned from Claude AnShin Thomas, a Vietnam Veteran, returning from war with undiagnosed PTSD, with a childhood history of trauma and violence in his home. In his healing journey, he discusses his realization that war has a narcotic effect. “We each live with our own Vietnam”, he writes in his book, Gates of Hell: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace.
In my work in shepherding individuals through trauma recovery, I spend time helping people understand our nervous system is wired toward always being on the lookout for danger. Even for those of us who have never experienced war, we have inherited a collective ancestral war trauma. We experience the unresolved trauma of our ancestors in our bodies.
We live in a violent culture that we think is normal. We have an obsession and compulsion to consume more and more violence. To root out violence in our life is to acknowledge and reckon with our impulses toward violence, experiences of childhood violence and abuse, and undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Undiagnosed and untreated PTSD can contribute to a lifetime of pain and suffering not only for the child, but also their families and communities.
Awareness of trauma eruptions is a first step, and then to take effective action.
Be intentional about the choice to not be consumed with violence. To pause, and choose to do things differently in real time, on the ground. Notice when you feel even slightly uncomfortable with language that is violent. Take effective action. Say something. Turn it off. If we want the world to be a different place, then we, the adults must live differently. We cannot make the external world become peaceful, we can only become peace. When we stop blaming others (blame is a trauma symptom), and begin looking deeply within ourselves, we can discover how suffering arises, and how it is linked to violence, and how to stop the seemingly endless cycles of aggression. Violence begets violence. Hurt people hurt people.
Be the adult who grows up and shows up, fully present, to hold the safe space children need. A place of safety for a child recovering from a traumatic experience, a spacious calm presence, being seen and being heard, being with what is.
I am here to help. Trauma Recovery Coaching is a very effective process of increasing awareness of the unconscious, unintegrated trauma, and bringing that which is unconscious conscious.
“All of our children are carrying too much unnecessary weight on their small shoulders, and we can not just stand by and see what will become of them”, Assume Every Child Has PTSD These Days Until Proven Otherwise, Kathy Wu, PhD, https://www.medpagetoday.com/opionion/second-opionions/98960