Trauma, Transformation and Free Will
Another way of looking at trauma is from the perspective of transformation and free will. Traumatic events shake our comfortable sense of reality and launch us into a search for meaning. Publicly viewed trauma, such as recent school shootings, bit by bit, slowly changes our safety quotient. Fear becomes our motivating drive, prevention is the outcome we seek. Traumatic events are transforming. The direction of that transformation is our choice.
The earlier the trauma, the sooner we become transformational beings. As a psychologist, I am familiar with the research and with the interventions and with the outcomes. As a member of the media audience, I am familiar with the misrepresentations that permeate our current understanding of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Each individual touched by traumatic events must take a journey to an unknown place, become familiar with that landscape, test their own survival skills and be transformed. Upon returning from that journey, the telling of the story is essential. Once the story is told, the listeners are transformed. It is only then that the individual returns home fully.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is another way of saying don’t come home, don’t tell us your story, don’t trouble us with your tale. As a culture, if we have moved away from transformative living, we have moved away from our essential nature as loving creative beings. Instead of transforming these experiences and creating a new vision for the future, we fight against what we perceive are fearsome creatures or forces threatening our security, clinging to an ideal world view that holds that no one should ever undergo these trials and that everything should be perfect.
But a perfect world would be devoid of transformation. A perfect world would have to be static and unchanging. In a perfect world, all of our problems would disappear. Every shooter will have lost the desire to kill, every murderer will have lost the desire to take a life, every person with power will have lost the desire that leads to greed and abusive control tactics. We would never make mistakes and never have to learn from them.
Fear and hatred are self-limiting, as anyone who studies history can see. Love is transformative, generative and eternal, ever expanding. We can choose to go down the drain or to flow down the river of life, joining others in celebration of our very beingness.
The genocide of our Native American family brought unspeakable destruction to a people and a culture that was not compatible with domination and submission paradigm of European settlers. In their grief, they created a ritual to bring comfort and hope to those still on their earth walk. The Ghost Dance opened a pathway for those living to those that had transitioned to the world of spirit. In the dance, transformation of grief to joy was possible with the realization that there is no death, only a change of worlds. Those we love do not perish, they are transformed and they have a story to tell us. A story of life, of love, of never ending joy.
If we refuse to listen, to hear their story, we resign ourselves to live in fear and limitation. When we slow down, when we enter the Ghost Dance, when we allow Love to touch our hearts and transform us, then we can hear them and know their joy. Then we can be transformed in Love and participate in the work of transformation of our world. To our surprise, we will suddenly see that this transformation has been underway for millennium. We will be astonished to see that without our input, transformations are abundant, profound and frequent. We will be delighted to know that in that river of life is all that we love and know, all those we hold dearly in our hearts, as well as those we refuse entry. In the light of transformation, we are all participants in this dance of life. Some may be opposed but all are dancing the dance, never the less.