I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my passion (for anyone who knows me, I actually spend most of my time thinking and especially about this, so this should come as no surprise). In particular about the wounds and suffering of those I’m honored to work with. This was really catalyzed by a heartfelt conversation with a soul friend in which my passion became red hot and sassy. In us talking in depth about trauma and the feeling of being broken, forever changed and disordered, my heart was heavy with sadness. Those of us who have endured life including and not exempt from trauma, often feel less than, changed and broken; carrying this as if a leper cast to the island of unwanteds.
In thinking about this, I realized that the reason I have been able to work with the most horrific emotional wounds, stories and trauma for so long, is multifold…one, nothing surprises me. I believe we are all capable of the most amazing love and light and on the flip side, the most atrocious, monstrous acts. Second, I truly in my heart believe in the strength and resiliency of the human spirit. I am blessed daily to witness this. I see people who come in believing they are broken heal and live fully, richly and in vivid color.
What has my mind buzzing is how trauma has become so pathologized. It has become a disorder of non-recovery or a failure to adapt and that pisses me off. The reason for my fury is because at what point did we as a society become so jaded that if something so devastating happens and a human feels immensely as a result that there is something wrong with that? I hope for people to hurt when someone dies in their presence or their sexual innocence was robbed. If they don’t, that to me is the problem.
As I was traveling to a trauma training I was facilitating, an older, wise, compassionate Korean gentlemen asked what I did. We struck up a conversation and he stated, that in the Korean language there’s not a word that translates to trauma. The closest thing is a word that means soul robbery. That struck me so deeply and to this day, still gives me goosebumps. When an event occurs that rocks us to the core and causes us to feel a slew of emotions and changes our way of being in the world, it’s fucking huge. It is in fact a soul robbery. With such a robbery, one should feel shaky, with the predictable foundation that is usual feeling unsteady and foreign. Fear, helplessness, anxiety, hypervigilance, mistrust and deep, deep grief should be experienced. If it isn’t something is wrong. If a soul robbery occurs it makes sense deep emotional devastation should follow, at least for some time. We as humans were made to feel and to feel it all, yet we are brainwashed and told not to.
Historically, trauma in the Latin American culture is referred to as sustos. This translates to a loss of vital force or loss of soul. If a loss of soul occurs it seems to me that rather than pathologizing and making it a disorder in an attempt to heal, that the cure lies within the realm of like cures like. Meaning, a loss of soul needs to be healed with a compassionate, empathetic offering of soul. The soul needs to be fed. Nurtured. Not shunned, pushed aside or disregarded. And yet, that’s what we do. We minimize and tell those who have suffered a loss of soul to suck it up and get over it. In such a way that feeling such a loss and showing the authentic, organic emotional response needs to be hidden and shamed which has then made it a stigma that goes untreated and therefore un-nurtured.
I beg of you, please allow for compassion, connection and courage to exist. These are the cures to a loss of soul. Hold the space with love and empathy for those struggling with a soul robbery. Rather than telling them to get over it and to be strong, embrace them. Love them. Ask them what they need, without assuming what you think they need. Be gentle. They are strong, resilient survivors who are far from broken and fragile. Their soul just needs some TLC.