April 11, 2009
Trauma is a part of life. If we were fortunate, our birthing was our only infant traumatic experience. If we were fortunate, someone was there for us that was able to immediately make things better for us.
If we were of the very early traumatized group, we could have been stressed instantly even at the moment of our conception. As strange as this idea might seem, if a mother is experiencing enough stress before conception her body is already full of stress reaction hormones and chemicals that signal the new human that the world it is about to be born into is one of stress and hardship. The developing fetus will then react accordingly and develop a body that is geared toward a different world than is one whose mother is at peace in plenty.
Trauma, as a part of life, can be overwhelming – or not. The critical matter to me is not so much the event of trauma but the amount, quality and availability of resources available at the time and after the time an actual trauma takes place.
Trauma has always provided our species, as it does all others, opportunities for growth and change. Life is not static. Change happens constantly. The ability to adapt flexibly to changing demands within an environment determines the quality of life and the state of well-being of an organism exposed to trauma.
If we get ‘stuck’ in any trauma response it is because the nature of the trauma is not equalized by the nature of available resources to cope with trauma. While that’s the fact as I see it, the consequences of this imbalance can not only be devastating and ruin the quality of people’s lives, but it can also disturb the well being of generation upon generation as traumatic reactions follow on down the line.
Trauma demands that we learn something. When we do not have the resources to learn this something, we will in effect be possessed by the trauma until we do. If we can never learn the lesson, nature provides a way for the unresolved trauma to be passed along until someone down the line figures it out.