“A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping for the comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty.” ~ Pema Chödrön
I used to wonder whether anyone ever actually had a pleasant childhood, and a life not marred by trauma.
I wanted to imagine that “the norm” was a bucolic, blessed existence, where children were nurtured and loved into adulthood. I imagined a childhood in which someone was surrounded by wise tribe members who understood the importance of a safe and uplifting environment.
How often do we hear each other say, “It would have been nice to have had a normal upbringing”?
Normal is the totality of human experience; it does not mean “good.” I have learned to not idealize “normal.”
The truth is that emotional wounding is something that happens to all of us in varying degrees—even those of us who did have lovely childhoods.
Being wounded is a part of living as an incarnated spirit. That’s not a statement of pessimism—it’s a clear understanding of the human condition. And as always, I write from my own experience and accumulated understanding of what that has been, sharing from my own vulnerability so that others can be comfortable in theirs.
I like this quote from Pema Chödrön that teaches about life being both gloriousness and wretchedness, and how life can both inspire us and soften us—and through pain, teach us compassion for ourselves and for others:
“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.
On the other hand, wretchedness—life’s painful aspect—softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient in being there for another person. The wretchedness humbles and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have the energy to eat an apple. One inspires us, the other softens us.”
What I encounter most from clients who write to me about trauma is the word “broken.” Broken is how society describes those who endure continued suffering due to life trauma. I strongly dislike the word (and concept) because it continues to damage us long after we’ve lived through our challenges.
You are not broken. You are a multidimensional being who is experiencing life in its beauty, its ugliness and its complexity. Consider removing the word from your vocabulary.