Relationships, Connection and Healing from Trauma

UnknownI’m reading an excellent book at the moment, which I can strongly recommend to you. If you’re working in the trauma field, then The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And other Stories From a Child Psychiatrists Notebook by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz is an essential read.

The book really gives you a feel for how our understanding of childhood trauma and its healing has moved along over the years. Bruce Perry is a real leader in this field and I feel blessed to have learnt of both Bruce’s and Bessel van der Kolk’s work in the past year. Thank you Judy and Carlie Atkinson.

Here’s a little section from the book:

‘Trauma and our responses to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships… The most traumatic aspects of all disasters involve the shattering of human connections. And this is especially true for children…’

‘Because humans are inescapably social beings, the worst catastrophes that can befall us inevitably involve relational loss.

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Parts 2 and 3)

42115582. Working towards solutions with Sharing Culture
We developed Sharing Culture as a way to help tackle historical trauma (and its consequences) and facilitate Indigenous healing.

Sharing Culture is a grassroots initiative based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness. We use a strengths-based, solution-focused approach that celebrates success and fosters positivity, acceptance and cultural pride.

We recognise that self-determinism is a central foundation of healing – solutions must come from Indigenous communities. At the same time, non-Indigenous people can contribute to this healing process in a variety of ways.

One major way that Sharing Culture will facilitate this healing process is to generate high quality educational content and Stories about Indigenous healing and the healing of trauma, and distribute it in the most effective manner to as wide an audience as possible.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Ellie, ‘Come With Me’

EllieTextBlog-1024x682A Story from the excellent I Am Not Anonymous website is long overdue. Here is Ellie’s Story“:

‘When I was drinking, my life was ruled by shame.  It’s exhausting, living a double life. On the outside I was a put-together, active, intelligent woman.  I made sure my outside always looked okay, so nobody would look too closely at what was really going on, at my dirty secret.

Inside, I was a crumbling mess.  I felt less-than, unworthy and insecure.  I strove for perfection in all things, which of course is unattainable, and this left me feeling empty and ashamed.

I drank to fill the cracks, the emptiness.  I drank to numb out, escape.  I drank to feel okay with myself.  I found myself in my late thirties, a shell of a person, hollow and feeling desperately alone, even though I had a beautiful family, a job, and people who loved me. 

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20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 1

2007_0118walpole01151-220x164Some of you will know I also run the Sharing Culture website, which focuses on Indigenous healing. Today, I thought I would upload the same blog onto both websites. My action reflects the importance I attach to this area.

Society has the knowledge to facilitate Indigenous healing. This knowledge comes from individuals who have overcome great adversity and undergone a healing process (the lived solution); successful Indigenous healing initiatives, and scientific research demonstrating key principles underlying healing.

Sadly, however, this knowledge is neither disseminated well, nor implemented enough by government and health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems. As a result, society is not helping Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing to the level it should.

In this and forthcoming blogs, I shall briefly describe 20 ways to facilitate Indigenous healing. Here are the first five.

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‘Without a life story, a child is adrift, disconnected and vulnerable’ – Dr Bruce Perry on the value and power of the Life Story approach

UnknownHere is a powerful piece of writing by Dr Bruce Perry, which is adapted from the Foreword to the new book, Life Story Therapy with Traumatized Children, by Richard Rose. It is fundamental to what I am doing with our new initiative Sharing Culture, which is focused on helping Indigenous people heal from intergenerational trauma and its consequences.

‘A fundamental and permeating strength of humankind is the capacity to form and maintain relationships – the capacity to belong. It is in the context of our clan, community and culture that we are born and raised.

The brain-mediated set of complex capacities that allow one human to connect to another form the very basis for survival and has led to the ‘success’ of our species on this planet. Without others or without belonging, no individual could survive or thrive.

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Classic Blog – ‘What is a Recovery Carrier?’ by Bill White

P4071151-220x164I was recently reading an interesting Bill White paper on Recovery Carriers. Thought you might like to hear what Bill has to say:

‘Recovery carriers are people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion for and service to people still suffering from alcohol and other drug problems.

The recovery carrier is in many ways the opposing face of the addiction carrier – the person who defends his or her own drug use by spreading excessive patterns of use to all those he or she encounters. The pathology of addiction is often spread from one infected person to another; some individuals are particularly contagious.

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‘Listening Across the Stages of Recovery’ by Bill White

ListeningAnother powerful blog from Bill White.

‘Addiction shrinks one’s world to a state of stark self-imprisonment.  As the person-drug relationship devours everything else of value, nothing remains that cannot and will not be sacrificed.

And as the drug then devours the self, what remains are only manipulative masks interchanged so quickly that any sense of “true self” remains as only a faint memory.  This shell, now masquerading as a person, burns its way through the world leaving human wreckage in its wake – all wounded by addiction’s self-centeredness, dishonesty, disloyalty, depravity, and brutality.

Extreme narcissism, self-will run riot in the language of Alcoholics Anonymous, is the essence of addiction regardless of whether one sees this trait as a cause or consequence of addiction.  It is a paradoxical entrapment manifested in self-absorption (self-inflation and exploitation or self-deflation and serial victimization) and deteriorating capacities for self-care. 

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‘We Are All Connected: Reflection on Robin Williams’ Suicide’ by Pat Deegan

CW, CBS And Showtime 2013 Summer TCA Party - ArrivalsLike so many, I was deeply affected by Robin Williams’ suicide.  I was a big fan of his comedy.  In one of his greatest moments of standup, he invented a new psychiatric medicine he called “Fukitol” and forever won my heart. I also loved most of his dramatic performances such as Good Morning Vietnam, The Birdcage, and Good Will Hunting.

I knew all along that Robin Williams was one of us.  He reveled in outrageous genius that always teetered on madness.  He made the world laugh, while he wrestled with depression and battled his addictive demons.

Of course, he slipped at times.  He took wrong turns and made some bad choices.  But he was resilient.  He kept self-righting. He sought out help including detox, medications, therapy and mutual support groups.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Lucas’s Story, ‘Seconds and Inches’

Lucas-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)My name is Luke Mosley, and I am in long-term recovery from alcohol and drugs. By that, I mean that I haven’t found it necessary to pick up a drink, a drug, or any other mind or emotion altering substance since November 10, 2010. And for that I am truly blessed and eternally grateful.

I say “I haven’t found it necessary,” because for the first 27 years of my life, I lived in emotional and spiritual bondage. More than simply having a drug or alcohol problem, I had a problem dealing with life in general.

What seemed to be day-to-day challenges to most other people were crippling burdens to me. Call it social anxiety. Call it restlessness or irritability. Call it being overwhelmed.  Whatever labels my concerned family, friends, teachers, doctors, or therapists applied, they never quite identified that “thing” in me that just felt off.

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GUEST BLOGGER: Beth Burgess and ‘Can You be Grateful For Your Addiction?’

london recovery coach.jpgIn order to recover, alcoholics and addicts first have to go through the painful process of admitting their problem. Then comes the challenge of accepting the situation and doing the work to recover. But can you actually get to the point where you’re happy to be an addict? Where you appreciate what your addiction has given you and you actually enjoy your path in life?

I like being an alcoholic. Truly, I do. It’s an unusual position to take, I admit – but one that serves me well. I’m so happy, I even wrote a book about it. Let me tell you how I came to reach this point – and was able to write The Happy Addict to help others find the happiness that I already have.

The fact is that I spent a lot of my life fighting reality. I drank to escape, to numb, to hide and to retreat from the world. At the end of my drinking, there was nothing I could do to fight reality any more. My addiction was something I couldn’t deny or hide from any longer. The fact that alcohol was now betraying me was clear to me and everyone around me. My attempts at controlling my drinking had all failed and my chances of living through another withdrawal were pretty slim.

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Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection.”

Here is one of my favourite people. And, boy-oh-boy does this lady have a powerful brand. The talk here is one of the most viewed TEDx talks – over 13 million views.

Here’s the TEDx intro:

‘Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.’

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Marion’s Story: My Identity

Marion has a strong identity which has helped shape her into who she is today.

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Peapod’s Guide to Recovery

Peapod, now ‘retired’, was one of the most prolific and respected bloggers on Wired In To Recovery. (S)he wrote a series of must-read blogs containing important hints to facilitate recovery.

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