How do you turn a newborn baby so innocent and perfect with infinite promise and hope for the future into twenty-eight-year-old abusive sex addict? or a thirty-year-old-homeless-drunk? or a forty-year-old woman who is so fearful of betrayal and abandonment that she struggles with attachment?
You add Trauma!
I remember when I was gently prompted by God, My Higher Power, to go and see an EMDR therapist. I had heard of trauma, mainly as a medical term used to discuss a severe blow to the head, or an deep abrasion. When someone mentioned a trauma survivor I might think of someone who made it through a horrific car accident, or rape. I for sure did not think of myself.
I was fine, my childhood was pretty normal. Marriage, well it had been hard, but trauma was such a serious word for serious events. Little did I know how much trauma impacted me and others. The more I have learned the more I understand how everyday traumas can change our worlds.
Understanding Trauma: Big T and Little T
Trauma covers much more than I ever imagines. As I began to study and learn about what trauma actually was I discovered that it can be broken into two categories often referred to as Big T and Little T. Big T’s include War, Natural Disasters, Rape, Seeing a loved one die in a brutal way, It is when an individual experiences and event that puts them in imminent danger. Cases of PTSD are often linked to Big T Trauma that occurred, an event that a person was not able to cope with.
Little T’s on the other hand are much more difficult. They are not contained to one big moment, they are little things that occured over and over again over a large span of time. Empathy and acceptance of the little “t”s are often overlooked because the event was not life threatening. This minimizes the impact that little “t”s can have over time. A little T for one individual may not impact another at all. The key to understanding little “t” trauma is to examine the events and how it impacted the individual rather than focusing on the size or intensity of the event itself. Studies show that repeated exposure to little “t”s over a long period of time can be more damaging to the individual that one Big “T”.
From Infant to Addict
Environments/Homes that teach No Talking, No Feeling, No Trust are Petri dishes filled with all the right ingredients to create an addict. So what do addicts have in common?
- Childhood trauma- This can be a Big “T” or many little “t”s, but trauma is present in their childhood. (Molestation, Divorce, Neglect, Death, feeling inadequate, not being hugged or shown affection, living in environments with intense anger, the list goes on and on)
- Early Exposure- Addicts are often exposed to pornography at a young age. Statistics say that boys will see pornography for the first time between the ages of 9 and 11. This tells us that the boys that we are raising TODAY, have early exposure. In most cases this can not be prevented, we need to teach boys what to do when they see pornography.
- No Communication in the family- Many parents have shame around sex themselves. I know that I did. How can I teach my children beginning at age 8 about sex, when I can’t talk about it openly myself? How do I teach them about a Penis and Vagina? How do I help them know I am a safe place to come for them to ask questions? How do I create that safe place?
Formula to decrease addictions
The formula is this: TALK + FEEL+ TRUST = SAFETY
I came to the realization that my boys already had two of the three parts in the Petri dish. They have childhood trauma, they have been through a divorce. I would be naive to think that they will not have early exposure with the statistics. So I will count that against them. So what can I do? I can communicate. I can teach them to talk, I can teach them to feel, and I can be a trustworthy and safe person.