The Early Years: 1963 – 1970
For me, my Trauma Wake began in November of 1963, just days before my fourteenth birthday. Before that date, my life was pretty peachy. After President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed I began to drink, and quit going to church. I can’t say if those events are related? But they could be.
The Trauma Wake is an accumulation of shocking events in one’s life that reside in the corners of a person’s mind. They layer there, likely in the sub-conscious; and result in complex PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Because the Trauma Wake is unbeknownst to the person, it can be deleterious.
This is just a theory of mine.
The second shock to my system, my Self, was the shooting and killing of four young people at Kent State University in May of 1970. The dead were shot upon by the US National Guard. People were gathered on the campus to protest the war in Viet Nam.
Shortly after that event, I dropped out of college. Again, I can’t know that one event led to the other.
Thirty years: 1971-1999
went by (the best years of my life?) before another major traumatic event happened. This was the shooting and murder of thirteen students at Columbine High School in Colorado.
[Notwithstanding all the other idiosyncratic life changing events in my life, of course. Such as marriage, birth of a child, divorce, moving, death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc. I’m not talking about those, which can and will vary from person to person. I’m referring to broad, shared, major happenings.]
The 21st Century
And then in September of 2001, 9/11 happened. At the time I’d just built and opened a bookstore in Evergreen, Colorado. I was hopeful.
Sales were trending up and then 9/11 happened. I opened the shop that day, brought in my little black & white portable TV. I sat behind the sales bar and combed through all the catalogues for every book I could find on terrorism and Osama bin Laden. There weren’t that many but I ordered them all. To no avail as it turned out. Not one sold.
Everyone disappeared. (Not unlike the pandemic twenty years later.) Fear reigned and I hemorrhaged money.
But who knows? Now, I can’t imagine myself content being a bookstore owner and seller for twenty years. But at the time, I envisioned a “family business” that would provide for me and My People way past my existence.
Colorado, after 9/11 certainly, was a Red State. OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM was popular. My quest for understanding and healing didn’t find much support. I was also strongly against the war. Sales had collapsed and I shuttered the shop. The bookstore failed to provide as did, broadly speaking, Social Work. I didn’t want to go back to the bar and restaurant business.
At my wit’s end and needing money. I put my house up for sale and it sold in June of 2004. The past year I’d spent traveling about the west looking for a new home and a fresh start. In May I had visited the Oregon Coast, Lincoln City. Perfect, I thought, and with Jake’s [my son] help moved all and everything to a two-bedroom bungalow on Harbor Drive, three blocks from the ocean. “You could hear the ocean roar”.
The Pandemic: 2020-
was next. The next major, shared traumatic event. It was March of 2020. Was 2020 the worst year ever?
Not by a long shot as it’s turned out. 2021 was worse and maybe 2022 worse still. The jury is still out.
[Speaking of juries and major, traumatic events. The five I’ve listed is not meant to be exclusive, there were others. President Reagan shot. The O.J. Simpson murder trial. The death of Princess Diana. Martin Luther King’s and Bobby Kennedy’s murder. The Oklahoma City bombing.
Not even to mention natural disasters. However, those are local events and the trauma can be easily ignored.]
of these major, shared trauma inducing events are people on people crimes. The cause is not divine. Nor is it necessarily hate. It is individuals acting on, or out of, personal grievance. People seeking justice. However misguided, informed, or perceived.
are a general loss of trust and amplified fear. There becomes a fear of intimacy and attachment, or conversely, of letting go. There is an amplification of tribalism and fear of others.
is not what it looks like. That would be a misinterpretation. It’s my own acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, Guilt, Obligation, and Doubt. Emotions that are driving discord and division in the 21st Century. Emotions that might eventually bring us all down. Because when coexisting they form a constellation of dread and despair.
Ironically, those emotions, all emotions, evolved to help us survive. On a hostile and chaotic planet. A planet rife with danger and threat. Mother Nature is a bitch and Father Time a tyrant.
is to talk with someone – a professional. Ideally a clinical Psychologist. They are better trained, and often smarter, than all others regarding psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. In that environment you are free to speak and explore your mind. Indeed, who you are.
However, yes, it’s expensive. And, there aren’t enough of them to go around.
Damn it. What a tough place we’ve gotten ourselves in – between a rock and a hard place.