How trauma can resurface during these times

I read a blog post by Somatic Experiencing Colleague Madeline Dietrich that inspired me and so decided to extrapolate further.

She wrote, “In my Somatic Experiencing work, I remind people that humans are mammals. In our basic make up we’re pack animals. Instinctually, we know our survival depends on being part of a tribe – on belonging. So, here we find ourselves in this very odd contradictory situation of opposing messages – your “supposed” survival depends on avoiding people and yet our survival, especially our emotional survival, depends on being in connection. It feels helpful to just articulate this cross current of imperatives.   

My concern is that this current situation will be our reality for some time to come, and I wonder what will be left of our social fabric by the time it’s over. How will we repair this rupture?  Maybe friends and family will be okay, and will make those repairs, over time, but what about the bigger social matrix that holds us together?”

Her words impacted me as the same thoughts and feelings have been inside for sometime. I can see the disruption of our core human tendencies that encourage us to connect, now shift to wanting to protect, and I wonder how this will affect our nervous systems and psyche’s over the long term, particularly our childrens’.

As lockdowns come and go across the planet, the collective is having to “shut down” to protect ourselves from a virus that doesn’t allow us to either fight or flight, as we cannot locate the threat with our senses. For some this exacerbates existing freeze in their systems, which can feel intolerable and triggering of collapse states arising from childhood trauma and/or other acute or complex traumas.
 
Our collective and individual traumas inevitably surface as our governments make laws that tell us what to wear and how to conduct our bodies, businesses, and lives in greater detail than I have ever remembered in my 42 years, including the added fear of punishment (e.g. fines) for not obeying.
 
For those that have lived, or have had ancestors that have lived in fascist and/or totalitarian regimes, this level of control emanating from a centralized power can be triggering of intergenerational or other lived traumas, particularly with the building of isolation/quarantine camps across the country.
 
For anyone that has lived physical abuse of various kinds and/or medical trauma with masking and anesthetic, having your mouth covered with a mask can be overwhelming, panic inducing and retraumatizing.
 
For anyone that has been neglected, the lack of connection created by social distancing and/or lockdowns can also feel threatening of our ability to meet our own survival needs.
 
I also occasionally wonder how many people force themselves to dissociate on a daily basis in order to implement various rules and regulations, so as to avoid more threatening social exclusion. I know that this is the reality of various clients of mine who for example, wear a mask even though they are medically exempt. 
 
Conflict, separation and division also often arises amidst the limited contact that we have with our families, friends and communities in relation to a variety of issues, e.g. mask, no mask, vaccine, no vaccine, to hug or not to hug, etc.
 
Meanwhile, many of us know that we are all doing our best to live a truth that allows us to remain connected to our own core human values of: integrity, respect, responsibility, and caring for our fellow human, as well as to our bodies. Most of us are living a compromised version of this and our previous “realities”, which some reap the benefits of, some suffer, while others experience a mix of both.
 
I share these insights as a Somatic Experiencing (trauma integration) Practitioner, primarily to elicit heart-felt awareness, kindness and understanding; to encourage our eyes to hold one another with compassion even if we don’t know the details behind what others are doing. Not everyone, especially those living in a state of functional freeze, has the strength, energy, time or voice to verbally articulate the reasons behind their behaviour to each person that they meet. If their childhood trauma was pre-verbal, sometimes they don’t even know why – they just know what they can and can’t do if they are to remain embodied and continue to act as resources for their children, families, friends and communities.
 
My own assumption in this context, is that everyone is considering others’ health and well-being as much as possible, while prioritizing their own their physical and/or emotional health. It is my hope that we can all preserve both, and in particular, our humanity.

So many blessings,

Energythrive1