ATTENTION! ATTENTION! GRAD SCHOOL UPDATE :)
It’s nearly July and I’m finally finished with classes until August!!!
I thank God for the chance to be back in school, learning bit by bit and staying open to where this path will lead. Most of you know I’m in a Clinical Psych program and I wish y’all were sitting next to me, studying and talking together about the health of our increasingly complex identities and communities.
But since you’re not, can I make one book recommendation? It’s not exactly beach reading, but it’s critical for understanding a society like ours where three in every four people could tell you a story about personal trauma.
I think when we hear the word “trauma”, we tend to picture someone else. In fact, our brains our wired to do that; an ounce of self-protection is worth a pound of denial.
I started my most recent class (Crisis and Trauma in Community Mental Health) thinking, “Dang. Am I prepared to hear everyone else’s stories about this?” In reality, the story I was least prepared to hear was my own. My family’s. I don’t think it’s too radical to say that every family has trauma in its history, but it feels far easier to think about it as a far-off problem the rest of the world deals with.
We have to start recognizing there is no bubble, there is no high ground, there is no wall that can keep the bad outside and the good inside. The war is within, as Thomas Merton says. Our brains can only self-protect so much before our bodies catch up to what’s awry and before we know it, we can’t sleep, we battle unwelcome thoughts, we fixate on the past, and so on.
This book is by a man who began his training by understanding trauma through the eyes of Vietnam veterans and has followed in its wake cutting through every layer of American society for the past forty years. This book is a wake up call, an omen, and a lamp post, lighting up a small part of the dark.
“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk is the kind of book I’d dream of writing, packed with research and science and discovery, written as much for the reader on the Metro as the President of the American Psychological Association.
There are too many of us impacted, too many carrying these experiences around in our bodies and in our brains, to keep pretending trauma is a weed in someone else’s garden.
If I was going to stop school now (which I’m not!) and never learn another thing (which I will!) it’d be worth it to have read this book, looked trauma square in the eye. and seen my own story mirrored back.
(And if you're more of a podcaster than a reader, check this one out with Van Der Kolk and Krista Tippet: https://onbeing.org/programs/bessel-van-der-kolk-restoring-the-body-yoga-emdr-and-treating-trauma/)