Maybe it's not trauma all the way down

Content un-warning: just talking about trauma in the abstract, not talking about anything traumatic

Disclaimer: I’m about as knowledgeable about mental health as I am about printers. I know more than the average person, and I know my way around my own pretty well, but a coherent scheme of the field in general is pretty far out of my pay grade, and you should probably take only about three sentences of advice from me about both. (It’s ok and good to take care of your mental health. Find professionals you feel good with. Many medicines might help; investigate them. Your body matters a lot. Get a laser printer.)

Epistemic status: hypothesizing with no conclusions anyway

whew. anyway, trauma

When I was a kid, the caricature of therapy was Woody Allen lying on a couch talking to a detached old guy. Well, that aged poorly. Nowadays, the caricature of therapy is identifying your trauma and being instantly healed. That’s better! But it has problems: it makes it seem like there’s only one path, and it makes that path seem straightforward.

I think there are multiple paths

(even for people with the same symptoms and life circumstances.) The path to wellness probably depends on 10000 of your own idiosyncrasies that are hard to diagnose. So far, so uncontroversial.

But what if “heal your trauma” isn’t in everyone’s path?

I’m wondering this just because I keep not finding any! Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying; I keep looking for it, and I keep not finding it. And by all accounts I’ve had circumstances that are easier than most. But I keep digging around, finding something like “oh yeah, that was kind of a hard memory from childhood”, directing love at it, and feeling that part of me say back “it’s ok, I wasn’t really that hurt.” Feel like I’m really grasping at straws here.

butterfly meme with “is this my repressed trauma?

And maybe this is another case of “Dan latches on to someone else’s path and decides it must be his too, even if those 10000 idiosyncrasies make it impossible.” I do this all the damn time. Especially when other people report it happening too. See also: MCTB, TMI, jhana.

OTOH, maybe it’s a case of “Dan thinks he’s tried something, but hasn’t really.” There are methods to look into your trauma; meditating or journaling or journeying or thinking about it really hard might not be enough to say there’s nothing there. And perhaps you don’t have to have Big Trauma to have something that needs to be healed. See also: MCTB, TMI, jhana.

In conclusion: I don’t know. Might be that there’s trauma on the level of “a scary door” that I just haven’t gotten to yet, and that’ll lead more breakthroughs. Or it might be that my difficulties aren’t really trauma-driven, and therefore my path needs a different headline than “healing my past.” (“being more alive?” “freeing my heart from an over-strong ego?") I’m keeping the question open.

Other stuff

I love L.A. Paul’s vampire metaphor for having kids. (or other transformative experiences.)

Enjoying River Kenna’s tweets/articles about imaginal practice. This in particular feels related to the mind/body thing I’m so focused on recently.

(gosh, it feels so dumb to be like “whoa, mind vs body, dude.” But I guess this is how it goes. We learn things, we forget them, we go back to our regular lives, which is really bizarre if you think about it.)

Maybe it’s good I never got that good at meditation! David Chapman keeps pointing out catastrophic problems that they really don’t warn you about. Granted, this is kind of like problems with weightlifting: you can break your back if you squat a heavy barbell wrong, but you’re not going to hurt yourself too badly with simple movements with 5lb dumbbells, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you’re a half-hour meditator. But this also suggests one upside for medicinal work: people doing that know that it can be dangerous, so they’re super prepared, whereas any idiot can sign up for a 10-day meditation retreat with no prep.


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