Having read @godlessindixie, Neil Carter’s, story on the clandestine dealings with a group with which he was involved, so much of it rang resonant with my own story, and those stories which have been shared with me, that I had to take a bit to process. It seems that my concept of spiritual trauma is growing in definition, partly because my definition of “spirit” is growing and changing.
Some may argue that it is “just semantics,” and while I agree, I also know that people hang a lot of emotion on given words and phrases. To refer to a “spiritual core” to an atheist or agnostic would be missing the point, and likely alienate him or her, and rightly so. Also, to deny a “spiritual core” to someone who highly identifies with that would be to miss the mark there as well, and alienate him or her, and again, rightly so.
Perhaps this concept of “spirit” could be better defined (and again, the problem of words being limiting in and of themselves) as the essence of who someone is, and around which ideologies can be selected and developed, beliefs can form, and perhaps a worldview can be constructed. The trauma, or injury, of this can happen when one person or group behaves in such a way that their ideologies, beliefs and worldview(s) should be exacted upon another, in order to coerce or manipulate the other into compliance to the former’s desires or wishes.
This is something which I fear: the notion that we are all either manipulating someone, somewhere, or being manipulated by someone, somewhere, to an end which whose good is questionable.
I am thinking that in order to be willing to heal, we may have to be willing to see that we can be as much perpetrator as victim, when we use the tactics of the “enemy.” When we engage in the style of rhetoric that is shaming, blaming, snarky, scapegoating and alienating, we don’t really get the right to say what they are doing is wrong, and we have only ourselves to blame when we are alone. We may be “right” and we are also very much alone. We also don’t have the right to say that what we did “in the name of righteousness” didn’t hurt someone else emotionally, psychologically or spiritually. While some may want to tell me that I am not hurt, that I am weak or that I need to “get over it,” it is these people that don’t get it, don’t seem to want to get it, and it would probably be best to just reduce my interactions with these people as much as possible. The bigger problem is when they may be psychotherapy providers. A big question remains is how can one give feedback to someone who does not seem to be receptive to it, or willing to change his or her behavior, so that the relationship can be healed and there can be mutual respect, even if they do not agree.
Yesterday, a friend of mine was talking about a commune in Europe called L’Abri. He said that it was a comingling of people from every possible ideology coming together to share and to learn from each other. I can imagine the discussions, which would take place, with deep passion, strong conviction and great civility. Yet I don’t think that it was for the sake of conversion, but for idea exchange and increased mental and ideological flexibility. I am thinking that we could all heal more rapidly in an environment such as that. Dr. Sue Johnson, as well as Drs. John and Julie Gottman, among others, have researched and stated that healing from trauma occurs more completely, and quickly in a healthy relationship. I am thinking that a connection whose purpose is growing each other, rather than draining the other or injecting poison into the other, is that healthy relationship. I am also wondering if this can simply exist among friends.
Do you have friends who just “get” you, and do you find that you have greater resilience and healing by just being with them?