Healing wounds, growth and meeting ourselves again and again at new junctures is really the work and journey of a lifetime. It takes commitment but who would want to miss it? It seems like one would miss the opportunity to witness the growth and claim a life that can be fully lived. It’s an ongoing process of reintegrating and reinstating all the lost parts of yourself. There can be instant breakthroughs along the way, and then there’s the work of championing yourself forward into the change. The trauma may have been complex and even heinous. Or it may be the subtle or not so subtle ways you once split off from yourself to remain aligned with caregivers and culture. It’s a gritty and joyful path finding your way back.
The process of becoming whole is ongoing. “The more that we kind of layer off, there’s very often another layer underneath there. And in part because it’s a very, very complex world that we live in. And at this point on the planet I think not only do many, many of us have our own personal traumas but we are also then experiencing the legacy traumas that have been handed to us from generations that have unprocessed traumatic wounds. That could be within your own family, it could be within your culture, and it could certainly just be within the collective experience of how much there has been, how [many] transgressions and how much trauma has occurred on this planet—even, for example, in relationship to the earth itself and our climate,” says clinical psychologist, Arielle Schwarz.
“So, I think that for many, many people, when we start to walk a path of trauma recovery, that later piece—that latter piece that you named of I know myself better. I’m more likely to identify when I’m getting triggered. I’m more likely to turn towards and pull my resources and attend to that with greater efficiency and resiliency and care. That tends to be my experience, both for myself and also for the people that I work with. I think that the more that we normalise, the less that we’re going to go, “Oh no, why did this come up for me? I thought I did all this work on myself, and how come this thought or this feeling or this memory resurfaced?” And I always go, “Oh huh, well. Well, something happened that brought that back to my attention.
And then we can be curious. I wonder what that’s needing from me now, right? I’m a new person. This wound that I worked with a year ago or five years ago is resurfacing and I now have a new array of resources, and a new way of thinking cognitively, and a new way of being with myself that I can loop back around to that old wound with a new level of wisdom and integration.
This isn’t to say that at some point perhaps we do go, “Huh, that one feels done, great.” But that doesn’t mean that we maybe don’t have more.”
And this is where the treasure lies. The more we heal our trauma and disconnection from ourselves, the more present we become so we can create lives worth living.
Wildlife activist and life coach, Boyd Varty is also an animal tracker and overlays the analogy of tracking with finding the innate “track of your life” where a natural wildness and authenticity resides. He explains the journey from living with trauma to presence: “What trauma work is, is it’s the ability to help someone reconstitute the way meaning was made, the way story was told, the way the nervous system and physiology react in a way that starts to help them be present again. And a big part of that is supporting, creating enough safety and support that they are able to start to feel again, because feeling becomes the doorway into presence.”
He also doesn’t believe in a magic bullet session. And he points to the treasures to be found.
“You have to know that you’re not probably going to do it all in one go. You have to know that built into your trauma is a gift, is a medicine. That’s not to say it should have happened, that’s not to say what happened was okay, but as you work with it, it will render a gift for you to pass on.”
Varty sees transformation in three stages:
“The first part is understanding what happened, how it shaped you. The second part is re-establishing presence through being around people who know the language of presence and in a well-supported space. And the third part is, how do I start to express my gifts? And as you move through those, and particularly that third one, that naturally starts to happen, that’s where things really start to change.”