Tag Archives: pre-trauma

Rites of Vision

Where are you going? And how will you know when you are on your way?

Note: We have been exploring twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD and other past stress. August contemplates Vision.

When my oldest daughter was very young, perhaps three or four, she asked her mother and me, “What do you want me to be when I grow up?” To our credit I believe, we both answered, “Happy.”

Children want to know. Adolescents need to know. We all search for our fit in this world and Vision is the answer.

Several years ago I was sitting in a quiet spot outside a family party talking with a young relative, probably about six years of age. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He looked at me with an expression of serious thought. “I don’t know. Something easy. Maybe I’ll drive a dump truck. How hard could that be?”

He is not yet of age to drive a dump truck on the highway, but he does like driving farm equipment. But, he also likes playing music. Very soon, however, he will be making decisions, choices of forks in his road, that will take him in some direction. Who will guide him?

Most indigenous cultures practice some form of adolescent rite of passage into adulthood that involves introspective searching for one’s place in culture. The concept is quite foreign to America–to European descendants. Pity.

The Native American rite is the “Little Death” known as the Vision Quest. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my first Vision Quest until I was already middle-aged, a teacher, and in graduate school. Still, it guided my research and teaching.

But back to my adolescence, I did search for answers to questions unspoken. I did look to my future to see what my life may become. In my early teens I decided that making money was not important to me, that I only wanted to be modestly comfortable. In my late teens, I committed my life to learning how the universe works. Everything else that has happened in my life has been a walk within those two decisions made before I graduated high school.

Scary? Well, the frightening aspect is that I made those choices with little to no adult guidance. Oh, sure, I was influenced by attitudes and enticements of home and school, but I discussed little of my future with adults.

Is that how you made life-determining choices? Is that how your children and grandchildren decide their futures?

Around 1978, I read a Reader’s Digest condensed book called THE TRACKER about Tom Brown, Jr. I went out and bought a copy to read the whole version. I talked about the book with anybody who would listen. Nancy listened. When she found another book authored by Tom, she gave it to me for Christmas in 1989. That book was THE VISION. If you have any interest in understanding the concept of developing a vision for your future as a part of our culture, I highly recommend reading it, discussing it, and rereading it.

I believe I was lucky. I grew up in a kind and hard-working family. I grew up running the fields and forests, encouraged to become who I would choose to be, to make my own choices, to live my own life. I grew up sharing and caring. I chose my Vision with mostly unselfish motives.

Deep down inside you, in that joyous and free pre-trauma self, what are your unselfish motives?

It’s a big question, but if it is an important one for you, there are methods of finding your way. Those methods will be our topics for the rest of this month.

Happy Tracking!

Pre-Trauma Love

I am not a psychologist. It seems prudent to remind us of that fact because I hear myself talking as if I were. These are just my opinions.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

Dr. Hart coaches us to remember our pre-trauma selves, to get back to those things that amused us, entertained us, attracted us, and made our lives meaningful and enjoyable. In other words, things we loved.

Good advice, Dr. Hart, but very difficult to do. It seems much easier to remember the trauma than the days before.

Who was I before Vietnam? Even that question is difficult to ask—and even more difficult to answer.

Am I not the person I was? No, but that admission is a big step, perhaps the greatest leap of all. I do not remember, of conscious mind, being any different.

Subconsciously, I do. If I can put myself back into situations I enjoyed with people, places, and things I loved before, I may remember at a feeling level.

Hay barns help, the smell of dried alfalfa and grasses. It takes me back to my youth.

Wrestling helps, being on the mat, coaching. Just being around schools helps. For me, school was a safe and enjoyable place. So, I went back and stayed.

Nothing takes me back to the pre-trauma world like Nature, whether it be hunting, gardening, or just walking in the woods. I accept that this is a feeling memory from the happier me. I know that the smell of tilled earth, wet wood, fallen leaves, or apples from the tree evoke the subconscious memories. But, I believe there is more.

I love the woods. For a reason I do not understand, I feel right, there—at home. I love the sights, sounds, smells, movements, and wholeness of field and forest. I know I belong.

In the woods, I am small but significant. I am one part of a big thing, equal to the tree, deer, squirrel, inchworm, and mosquito. I belong because I am part of it, because I accept it as bigger than me, because…I have been invited. Yes, I feel invited.

I love the woods, but even more importantly, I believe the woods loves me. Without prejudice or judgment of any kind.

In the forest I feel small yet bigger than anywhere else. I hope that makes sense to you. It feels right to me.

Perhaps you see a pitfall, here. People with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms who do not have a pre-trauma place that invites them may have more difficulty finding equilibrium. Well, people without hay barns, gardens, or forests of youth may have trouble reaching their equilibrium even without trauma. I grieve for people who do not feel invited into the woods.

It is not too late. I believe that. I (the not psychologist guy) believe that Nature is here to love all of us whether we meet before or after trauma. Find a teacher, a guide, and go home to Nature. It is in your DNA.

Mother Earth loves every one of us. Isn’t it time you accepted and returned that love?