Trauma is a story most often told and framed through the lens of the victim. It is a narrative of a specific kind of pain that shatters and dissolves a human being into shadows and hauntings that cannot be exorcised, only mitigated through the daily and conscious choice to be whole. The infinite expression of human life necessitates a manifestation of wholeness that expands and contracts as the person grows or does not grow. Wholeness and healing are not an end game and never static. We move in and out of these states on a continuum of sleeping and waking paths, dreaming and creating the realities that allow us to keep breathing and searching for light.
My lived experience has brought me to understand that every single human being holds within them the essence of evil. We are all monsters in waiting. There is no them. There is only us. We are paradox embodied and for all of our philosophic gymnastics and high hat pronouncements we are all, at the end of our lives, the sum of our efforts to be…beings who made choices that either amplified the goodness in Creation or diminished it.
I know this because I have had to face my own incubus. And a resounding “Yes, Of Course!” to the unspoken question of why I have demons in the first place. The ravages of white supremacy are responsible for the creation of my particular evilness. Chattel slavery, to be precise, created my Ancestral Trauma and sent it racing through my family’s collective DNA resulting in a nearly unbroken line of wounding, injury, illness, and death. Because it is an embedded and self-generating damage, it does not end. For me, from where I look up into the stars, the immensity of healing generations of oppression is ceaseless. Yet, I have never been immune from the full force of this heritage. I have been helpless victim and triumphant survivor. I have also been the sharp-fanged monster, the heartless perpetrator, and the wounded animal in a blind rage of pain that lashes out without thought. I have been bully, shrew, and ogress. I have been thief, liar, and coward. I have been the killer of potential and of dreams. This is not exaggeration or hyperbole. This is the raw side of the choices and actions of my life; a life before I recognized and awakened to the depth of living in a white supremacist world and chose to commit to healing my wounds and in so doing healing the wounds of my Ancestors. I harmed people I was supposed to love and care for and I live with those acts every day of my life.
The past loves to come and sit down with me to visit. I’ve learned that I can’t lock it out, so I let it stay for a bit and send it back to the mists after a time. I also have learned to take from the past the opportunities for self-reflection that are offered and use them to grow and to heal. I do this by looking at what I thought I was doing and the way I believed things to be and shining the light of empathy. I’ve recognized many places of harm that I’ve done to the people I’ve loved most. This is how I’ve owned and continue to own my own shit.
The complicated and painful present of the lives of my adult children who are in the midst of their own journeys continually pulls back the curtains of my mind because what mother does not think of how she may or may not have influenced her children’s present lives? Each of my children have developed their own unique coping mechanisms for our family’s trauma.
Our family lived in the shadow of my first husband’s Narcissim and our lives were an existence of hard-lined right and wrong, of all good or all bad. There were never two sides to a story. There was only his. He lived at the center of our lives reigning over his kingdom of ego, blindness, and abuse, well-oiled with a heriditary addiction to alcohol. In the narcissist’s world you must always choose a side. Their side. A parent who is a narcissist must still fulfill their need to be the best, the most, the all and the center. There is no room to have anything but malevolence for the other parent when the marriage ends. The Narcissist doesn’t like to lose; they can’t lose. They do not ever let go and they will do anything to maintain control of the people they have decided they require to keep themselves on their self-created pedestal.
Next week, Even Monsters Need Flowers, Part 2