OPINION – A song I heard while shuffling through my music libraries the other day took me by surprise: “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Bing Crosby crooned the lyrics that resonated with WWII soldiers in part, I suspect, for their promise and in part for expressing that yearning one feels when they are in a tough spot. There’s no place like home, right?
For 60 years this song has caused me strange confusion. I wonder if my real self will ever really be home. I experienced traumas as a child and in wartime and they’re never fully behind me.
The way we think about ourselves can be a shell game. Life moves as speedily as the hands shuffling three walnut halves and we hide beneath one of them. When the shuffling stops, someone lifts a shell they think will reveal us; but usually they’re wrong.
We search for explanations, asking ourselves: Why did that traumatic experience happen to me?
My reasons are likely familiar to others asking the same question: I must be broken. I made bad choices or had bad choices made for me. I didn’t listen to my parents. I betrayed my faith or something happened that caused me to be ashamed. I was kicked off a team. And, I just never felt I belonged … at home.
When our explanations don’t bring peace, we stop trying and often we withdraw.
Most who survive traumatic experiences believe that their trauma was the result of a self-inflicted wound. Somehow we caused it, we tell ourselves; we set ourselves up, we didn’t do what was necessary to prevent or stop it from happening.
Whether it was going to war, being involved in a serious automobile accident, getting robbed, mugged or raped, being cheated on or abandoned or just never seeming to fit in, we believe we are somehow responsible for it – that event we don’t much talk about.
If we do talk about our trauma, we think, the conversation we start will end just as quickly.
At 60 years old, I finally talked to someone. We didn’t speak in dialogue; I mostly just talked.
I talked about my traumatic experiences, what I felt at the time and what I thought everyone else felt about me.
I talked about what I decided about myself and what I thought everyone else decided about me.
I eventually accepted that my traumatization could not have been any other way than it was; and even if it could have been different, there was nothing I could do at this point to undo it.
I decided to learn from my experiences and to act upon how they made me stronger. I do this today.
Talking helps – it even helps me be home for Christmas.
Bruce C. Solomon is a licensed therapist in St. George working with people who have suffered any sort of trauma that affects theirs and their family’s lives. Opinions stated in this column are his and may not be representative of St. George News.
Do you have a question for Bruce about trauma affecting your life or someone you know?
Submit questions by email to email@example.com | Questions are published anonymously.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.