Gabor Mate on Trauma

Gabor Mate saying the valuable things we need to reflect on. Trauma isn’t just evacuations or poverty or gun violence and war; if you’re a tender person, prone to intuit the entire spectrum of your own and others’ feelings, that can be very traumatizing. To boot, if you’re that person, in order to relieve the discomfort at what you’re seeing and processing for everyone/everything, you’ll develop habits and behaviors that are not in your own best emotional interest and therefore create more and more trauma for yourself.

If you’re a parent who yelled at or spanked or didn’t know your kid (or life more generally) well enough to understand that you didn’t have to get angry or passive-aggressive (silent treatment, etc) to exact change within your tender kid (who is already primed to want to help you feel better) and/or household, you inadvertantly traumatized them. Because anger is valid–if you see something being abused, for instance, start screaming–but our world is too angry and too capable of justifying that anger; what is actually just frustration needing some deep breaths often comes out as a ragefest when there’s absolutely no need to ever go Full Karen about normal stressful shit that everyone should expect to face when sharing a nation with 323 million other people.

Anyways, when I was getting divorced (early 2007), I remember going over to my friend Brooke’s house–she was soon moving to Wisconsin–and helping her hand-pull dandelions from her back yard. And as we worked, we talked about how James wanted to handle things through mediation; he didn’t want to get lawyers involved. I was a stay-at-home mom, no income, little resources, shocked I was getting divorced (I didn’t know Sarah–his office assistant in Virginia–had already gotten divorced and was pressuring James; James and I were still being intimate even), regularly sobbed in the basement after the kids were at school, and–most importantly–was afraid of James and what cruel things he would do and say to break me if I went against his wishes. As we picked dandelions that day, Brooke would say the words I needed to hear and I would ignore them because I hadn’t yet faced what it means to be a tender person in an angry world.

“Amy, my mom [Roxanne, Brooke’s mom] pointed out that in divorce cases that are handled through mediation, the wife always ends up much worse off than the man. You should reconsider and get a lawyer.” Which was sent home when even the mediator–William Downes–asked me point blank before we signed off, “Amy, are you sure you are okay with this?”

It’s been good for me to hustle and to be forced to reclaim, unchain, proclaim all these truths and yet still some days I find myself picking dandelions by hand and stabbing myself with a truth spoken and ignored.

Please share this hard truth with your tender folk So they can better listen to their friends .