“All human failures are the result of a lack of love.” Alfred Adler
Today, many celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to honor love, and yet, I wonder how many people are truly connected as they go about this day spending time with one another. A case in point was going out for breakfast with my partner, Mary. We went to the local restaurant and while there, I could not help but notice so many people engaged with their cell phones or looking up at a big screen TV monitor watching the news. At a table near us, was a couple with two young kids – as soon as they sat down, the father took out his phone and made a call. It was not my intent to monitor his behavior, Mary and I were discussing many things, but this table was close by, so even while looking at Mary, the other table was in full view. He spent a lot of time on the phone and then proceeded to texting. He did respond politely to his children when they asked him a question, but he had to ask them “what” several times because he was too focused on his phone. How sad, a special time with one’s family and he could not be fully engaged with them.
Now I ask myself the question why. Why do so many people not fully connect with each other, no matter the time or place? There was a time as a dad that I too was not fully engaged with my kids. I was too busy running and escaping through my work. Yes, it helped to provide for them and I truly loved them dearly, but my ‘stuff‘ got in the way of being fully immersed in their lives. I needed to run and stay busy to keep the demons of my past at bay and never wanted my children or my ex-wife to know of the horrors I had experienced as a child and teenager. I never wanted them to know how deeply ashamed and ‘dirty‘ I felt inside because of the perverse and sadistic sexual and physical abuse perpetrated upon me by my parents and their friends. I had always felt disconnected from others and never felt like I belonged…to anyone.
Today, I have become ‘trauma- aware‘ and know all too well the consequences of the untreated trauma and my silence in keeping hidden the family secrets. They say we should not have regrets, but I do wish I had the awareness back then of how my child abuse would impact every facet of my life.
Unfortunately, I see the disconnect all too often in the field of trauma awareness among so many, supposedly in the know. It is a pet peeve of mine, it does bring up some anger and sadness when I see too many people on their cells phones, notebooks and laptops while in the midst of training’s and presentations on trauma.
The trauma and the abuse in our lives shapes how we connect or disconnect from one another, that I know to be true now. Oh how I wish there was a world-wide acceptance and awareness of the need for this; but I suspect that most folks default to the, “See No Evil, Speak No Evil and Hear No Evil” mantra that I too once embraced. No more, now I do speak out, sing out and write about it….as do many others trying to bring some light to this darkness. And then there are those who minimize or negate the hurts and losses in their lives when they compare themselves to those suffering in some war-torn country or natural disaster. It is true, there are many who do get hurt and lose more than others, but it does us no good to discount and ignore our pain and suffering from whatever we experienced.
I can talk about the day to day things that we miss in our disconnect to others and lack of love, but I also think about the larger world-wide view. Think of how society would look today if there was a universal mindset to becoming trauma aware and informed. We could help to end child abuse and neglect as we know it. The world would be a safer place to live in and we would prevent the rise and destruction wrought by a future Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Saddam Hussein, etc. Prisons would be emptied, substance abuse and the addictions to alcohol, food, spending, gambling, work-a-holism, and so many more hurtful behaviors would fall by the wayside. We would know peace….and safety.
Today, I am grateful for what I have learned about trauma and its effects. I’m able to be engaged with friends and fellow advocates, educators and survivors. I no longer feel that I have to ‘rush off‘…I love being able to just sit and spend time immersed in conversation with others. Running from my trauma past was a difficult endeavor, today, I can take the time to smell the coffee…I have finally learned to be able to sit in peace with myself. For me, the trauma awareness and the connection it has brought, is something to rejoice about and share.
Sincerely, Michael Skinner
Your comments and insight are always welcomed, please let me know.
The February Surviving Spirit Newsletter – Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health
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