When describing the phenomena of emotional and psychological trauma that is passed down generation to generation, the term Mother Wound is often used. However, this term, mother wound, is a misnomer, a distraction in many ways, and only serves to feed the misogynist message, and therefore exacerbate the traumatization, of the collective and keeps the status quo firmly rooted in place.
This phenomena is collective. We are both traumatized by the status quo collective and the collective shows signs of being traumatized itself. This phenomena comes at us not only from our mothers and or fathers and other primary caregivers, it comes from our entire socialization within the status quo: through media, through mentors and friends, through our definition of success, through our systemic colonization, oppression, and authoritarianism. We are traumatized by the messages of how we aren’t enough, are too much and all the shame that goes with them; of how we need to keep striving for that carrot of success that is always just out of our reach (and that success is defined by the status quo and the individual) – all these messages are given to us through multiple channels from our primary caregivers to the media to our laws to the lack of convictions (or lenient sentences for) rapists and intimate partner abusers to the glass ceiling to the mommy wars and everything between and beyond. Add to these the messages of how womxn are not humans worthy of safety or respect (if we were there would not be rape, intimate partner abuse, or murder by intimate partners. People of color are also part of the “not worthy”of this respect (consider the racially motivated, unprovoked police and citizen murders of children, women, and men of color). Transgender, non-binary, and queer people – also not worthy. Poor people – not worthy (consider how culturally the poor are considered unintelligent, lazy, and just don’t try hard enough to get out of their situation). The status quo collective tells us over and over there is something wrong with us. Additionally, we know from our lived experience there is something very much wrong with the status quo collective. Only a wounded animal spews this amount of hate, vitriol, and violence towards others.
This phenomena is relational. Our greater culture wants to keep us isolated and alone. Our culture wants us clawing and climbing on top of each other instead of supporting each other and building each other up. This messaging, training, and conditioning is passed down generation to generation, over and over. Caregivers, regardless of gender identity, to child. We are taught how to act, how to look, how to be so that we will survive, and maybe if we are lucky enough, if we are white enough and straight enough and male enough (or female enough in the proper ways) and have enough money, then we just might thrive too. Maybe. As long as we don’t step out of line. As long as we stay compliant. As long as we don’t question. As long as we remain obedient, complicit, and uphold the status quo as it is without complaint.
This phenomena is a trauma and is traumatic. It produces all the signs and effects of an acute traumatic event on both an individual and collective level:
- Hyper-vigilance (also related to fear and anxiety)
- Extreme irritability
- Emotional dysregulation (mood swings; cannot soothe self easily; once triggered into anger or sadness or fear cannot easily come out of it)
- Disassociated from the body (cannot feel your body or sense your physical boundaries; bumping into walls or furniture, not knowing where bruise or cuts/scrapes have come from)
- Disassociated from the present (stuck in past and future thinking)
- Inability to concentrate and stay focused on one thing for an extended period of time
- Self-isolation (withdrawing from or not connecting to others)
- Feelings of shame and self-blame and claiming responsibility for things that are out of your control
Additionally the following physical health issues are also associated with trauma, which we see at epidemic proportions within our current status quo culture:
- autoimmune disorders
- gastrointestinal disorders
- insomnia and/or nightmares
- racing heart beat and shortness of breath (panic attacks)
- muscle tension
- sexual dysfunction
Plus we are constantly re-traumatized over and over as we continue to live our lives. This means in order to break away from the status quo conditioning, training, and traumatization, we need to be continually processing, finding ways of connection to our bodies, our Self, and to other people, while remaining curious about our Self, our reactions, and our relationships with others.
This phenomena is Collective Relational Trauma. It affects all of us, even those this phenomena is meant to benefit. It is all the messages we have internalized about ourselves and others. It is all the implicit biases that live in our muscles and sinew. It is the constant re-traumatization of our Self and our communities for even daring to exist.
It won’t just go away because we wish it to.
We must look at it. Unearth it. Examine it. Dismantle it. Dislodge it from our bodies and being and communities and society.
This trauma is personal and political. It is Self and social. It is individual and collective.
Because it is both collective and relational, the way to healing is by doing both our work in the outer world (whatever that may look like to bring about healing and liberation for all) and AT THE SAME TIME doing our own inner work of unearthing and exploring and unraveling and dismantling and dislodging.
Sometimes this Self work will be on our own, other times with one other person or multiple single other people, and other times, in community. Learning to see the current status quo for what it is: a way to oppress and control a populace that those in power fear. Learning to trust and to be trustworthy; learning compassion for others and ourselves; exposing the myths of the Perfect Person and the Perfect Life and the lies the status quo has told us of “If only you do X then you will get Y”. Becoming curious and rebellious and joining others and locking arms and pushing each other up and up and up. Breathing fire, in unison, and burning it all down.
And together, in solidarity, creating a world where self actualization and social liberation are common place and no longer an act of defiance or resistance or disruption to the oppressive status quo.
Let’s do this thing.
Let’s say NO MORE.
Let’s get burn it down
Together. Always, all ways, together.
In rebellious solidarity,