Post-Traumatic Growth

Much of the information on this website explores the research validating the fact that trauma can have long-term consequences. I have also provided connections and links to resources that help reclaim the innate capacity for health and self-regulation – SE, TRM/CRM, MBSR. The earlier the trauma (ACEs), the more support we may need to find that capacity – NARM and attachment repair approaches like Circle of Security and DARe/SATe.

The most important thing to remember is that Post-Traumatic Growth is not only possible, it is the blessing within the sorrow. Sometimes, like Jacob, we have to wrestle with that angel mightily for a long time. Sometimes, like grace, it comes when we aren’t looking.

As Peter Levine says, “Trauma is a fact of life. It does not, however, have to be a life sentence.”  He has learned, however, that “If trauma is to be transformed, we must learn not to confront it directly. If we make the mistake of confronting trauma head on, then Medusa will, true to her nature, turn us to stone.”

Initially, my own intense desire for healing led me to demand what I now call the “backhoe and dynamite” approach to trauma “removal”. I wanted to dig it up and/or blast it out — right now!  Since trauma is not a “thing” that can be removed, but the disruption of the nervous system’s capacity to settle back into the natural ebb and flow of energy – our Resilient Zone – I had to learn that how I wanted to get healing “over with” was actually part of the problem.

Skillful solutions offered by neuroscience-based somatic “appropriate technology”:       • titration (a safely “chunked-down” amount to work with at any one time             • pendulation (the way we can help the nervous system swing back and forth from activation to settling before it escalates from high arousal to freeze – “Medusa turning us to stone”)                                                                                                                       • resourcing/building on resources (external resources include positive experiences and memories of people, places, activities, skills, animals and spiritual support that we know and love.  Internal resources include experiences, values and beliefs that sustain, support and give confidence and inner meaning. They can be qualities like kindness, gratitude, compassion, humor and curiosity. They can be body/felt sense resources such as a feeling of power in the legs to run, strength in the arms to hold a boundary, force in the voice to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’, a sense of deep inner calm or creativity. These resources often arise when the focus shifts out of the trauma ‘vortex’ and into another aspect of our felt sense that we can discover when we bring a new quality of awareness to the totality of our experience.                                                                                                                       • grounding                                                                                                                             • shift and stay                                                                                                                         • amp down, ramp up                                                                                                             • the new neuroscience of working with story

There is a brokenness                                                                                                          out of which comes the unbroken,                                                                                           a shatteredness out                                                                                                                   of which blooms the unshatterable,                                                                                       There is a sorrow                                                                                                                   beyond all the grief which leads to joy                                                                                     and a fragility                                                                                                                             out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space                                                                                                              too vast for words                                                                                                                through which we pass with each loss,                                                                                    out of whose darkness                                                                                                            we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound                                                                                     as we break open                                                                                                                    to the place inside which is unbreakable                                                                                and whole, whose serrated edges cut the heart                                                                    while learning to sing.                                                                                                                                                                — Rashani

And there is an art to healing trauma, to knowing how much is enough (titration), when to shift away from the ragged edges and back to something deeply nourishing (pendulation and resourcing), when to allow the impulse for gestures of fight, flight, protection. When and where to enter the stream of the story and when to wait until there is more ground under our feet. When to turn toward the skid, when to gently apply the brakes and when to trust the implicit resiliency inherent in us all.