I am not looking for someone to save me from the consequences of my past.

Um, that’s not completely true for me. Do we ever completely give up hope? I live in a 68 year old body and feel the effects of both trauma and healing. My cement shoulders have softened. My compulsive mind is largely quiet. I feel connected with myself and my body. And my body and nervous system reflect the experiences of my life.

Denial is part of our survival response and it causes a lot of suffering. Seeing clearly is a sign of healing and deep insight includes understanding the complexity of our lives. We can only afford the truth when we have developed kindness and compassion.

Many of the consequences that we are dealing with now are not our fault because they were not under our control. A child’s nervous system develops based on their experiences. When children don’t feel physically or emotionally safe in their home, the circuits for trust and connection fail to develop optimally. They expect people to hurt them and become hypervigilant. This carries through to their adult life in their nervous system. They have more anxiety, their brains don’t work as well, or they have explosive anger. They are more likely to become addicted. Adverse childhood experiences, ACES, have a proven negative impact through our whole life.

Income inequality adds to our load and affects who funds their own space travel and who has a safety net during Covid. Taxation that favors the rich leads to a concentration of wealth at the top. Laws that protect a corporation’s right to profit over the environment contribute to the climate crisis we are in now.

In 1989, the top 5% of richest families held 114 times more wealth than the people in the 2nd from bottom group (the bottom group had zero or negative wealth). By 2016, that increased to 248 times more wealth. White women with full time jobs earned about 80% in 2019 of what white men earned compared to 60% in 1980. Women experience a cumulative loss over a 40 year career of about a half million dollars. For women of color, that loss is closer to one million.

I bring this up to set a context of how the impact of our personal actions is interwoven with others in our communities and the world. In our culture, people are shamed for the struggles they have with financial security, their weight, addictions, emotions, careers, and relationships. This affects every area of our lives. It is time to stop public shaming and quiet our personal inner critic. We need to see ourselves and others in the context of our overall lives.

Hurt people hurt people. This is true. We can have compassion and understand the complexity of trauma, yet we are up against a hard truth. People disconnect from themselves and their humanity when they are afraid and hurt. As a society and individually, we have to limit the harm people can do to others. 

The long term answer is to heal intergenerational trauma. So much of the injustice in the world is from unhealed pain. Adults have more opportunities to have a different life than they did as children, yet this is tremendously hard, especially when our life conditions contribute so strongly to our problems.

When the deck is stacked against us, it doesn’t seem fair that we still have to bear all of the consequences. If you live in a social democratic country, your government may be actively trying to reduce systemic inequality and use tax dollars to help soften some of the consequences. In other countries, people are more on their own.

It’s natural to grieve the loss of what our life could have been. It’s natural to be angry. It’s natural to want someone to save us. Friends and family, communities and countries can help. Yet when it comes to our own life and health, we are the ones who bear the most impact. We are the ones who have to work with the reality of our bodies and personal lives.

We can work together for justice and a healthier world. We can impact our lives both personally and as a whole. Part of emotional maturity is accepting what is. Someone is not going to finally step in to make it right. It is up to us to act. To be kind and compassionate. To connect with unconditional love. This is what really saves us.

I am not looking for someone to save me from the consequences of my past.
Even as I engage in action to change and heal, I accept that my life is what it is.
I understand myself and I am on my own side.
I accept that as unfair as it is and as much as I resist it, I have to accept reality as it is.

What would have to change in order for this to be more true for you? What is your way in?


Tagged on: