From Trauma to Wellbeing
I am no stranger to what in the west is generally referred to as trauma. I was born into a Russian, ethnically Jewish, family of people who were doing their best which, at times, was sufficient and other times, not. Among many of the early challenges, my father’s mental illness and emotional and physical violence were the most trying. I was quite sensitive to others’ emotional states and like many children in that kind of a situation, rolled up my little sleeves to see how I could help everyone, no doubt partly hoping to make my own life easier: after all, if they felt better, I would get more love, nurturance, and safety, and instead of feeling hopeless, helpless, angry, and scared, I would get to feel capable and in control. In my tireless efforts, I took on everyone’s pain, tried to need nothing, be good and grown up, and give to everyone whatever they believed would help them feel better.
Adding to my family’s struggles were the various realities of living in the former Soviet Union, i.e. not enough food and other necessities, insufficient living space, lack of money, severe weather, political instability, and social unrest. It took a while, but at some point, the price tag on my trying to help all involved was so high and I had bent so far out of my alignment to please everyone that it became increasingly difficult to feel good on my own. Post my parents’ dramatic divorce and both of their remarriages, especially as I hit adolescence, I became increasingly joyless, insecure, angry, resentful, fearful, and emotionally wobbly. I no longer knew how to feel well without constant validation from others about my worth, and even then, it was a challenge. To add to the drama of my existence, I attempted defection while on a student exchange school trip to NYC at age 14 much to the dismay of my school teachers and classmates only to return back to Russia days later and suffer the consequences (refer to my podcast, if interested).
Actual immigration to the US with my family at age 16 presented its own set of challenges, exposing and exacerbating all the previously acquired wobbles and adding numerous new ones. Shortly after our arrival, I saw a movie about Princess Diana and while I didn’t understand the dialogue, I understood that she was throwing up in order to control her weight. That concluded the development of and launched forward a severe eating disorder that would plague me for years to come.
As an adult, I spent decades plowing through all of those experiences in hopes of finding peace, joy, and stability. There were many therapies, endless self-help books, and at points, ant-depressants. There were health struggles related to the long-term consequences of the eating disorder. My trajectory was always upward, although plenty of times it seemed I’d never feel better. In more recent years, thanks to learning more about Eastern philosophies and practices as well as the use of alternative treatments, the last of the wobble seems to have cleared (refer to my podcast on the use of psychedelics in trauma treatment). Joy, peace, clarity, and deliberate creation are now part of my life.
I am sharing this with all of you to say that if you have had difficult experiences, I hear you and you are not alone.
Trauma can leave psychic scars and energetic blockages in the body that if left unaddressed, can last a lifetime. Under the worst of circumstances, it can result in infectious internal wounds that won’t heal, poisoning one’s life and popping up in unconscious manifestations of further traumatic experiences as an adult. Trauma can infuse us with self-doubt, feelings of shame, guilt, incompleteness, fear, rage, and existential dread. One of the most common reasons someone seeks psychotherapy is the perception that one or more traumatic life experiences have resulted in terrible damage to the self, making it impossible to feel good in the here and now.
Having gotten to the other side of it all, I want to say this to you from the bottom of my heart: whoever hurt your human self, they did so while disconnected from their inner being in a state of psychic pain and spiritual darkness and sleep. When someone is not conscious of their actions, there is nothing to forgive them for as they know not what they do. They didn’t do it because you deserved it, weren’t good enough, made a mistake, or provoked them. They did it because when there is no consciousness, there is no awareness and no understanding of motivation and impact. As importantly, while your human self was hurt and suffered, your inner being was never touched. There are no human experiences that can hurt your inner being as it is invincible and all-powerful. No matter what’s happened to your human body and mind, you are complete and perfect. When you learn to become more aware of your connection to your inner being, you will once again feel whole and untouched by anything that took place and you will reclaim your power. And most importantly, the contrast that you’ve lived between the wanted and the unwanted will infuse your life with such clarity and purpose that you will go forth and create so much good in ways that only you can, having been through what you’ve been through.
So, hang in, keep looking inward, keep searching for that connection with your inner being, and trust that you are always on the path to becoming more of who you were always meant to be.