How Did We Get Here?
In The U.S. and All Over the World?
All over our country people are trying to explain how we got here. All over our world people are trying to explain how we got here.
There are many, many explanations at so many different levels of understanding. But I rarely hear anyone talking about the deepest levels of all, the place within each of us where beneath our awareness, we have participated in co-creating “here” – this time, situation, circumstance we’re in both individually and communally.
Each of us was once a child. Each of us experienced pain and wounding of some kind as a child. The limitless possibilities include these: It may have been a parent’s illness or death. It may have been the divorce of parents. Perhaps it was an alcoholic parent. An abusive parent – emotionally, verbally, even physically. A parent who sexually abused the children in the family. A parent who didn’t protect the children. A parent who didn’t make enough money to support the family. A parent who left.
The wounding we experienced as children calls on us to heal. If we do our own inner healing work, we are less likely to pass our wounding onto our children. If we don’t do our own healing work … whether we realize it or not, whether blatantly or ever so subtly, we will wound our children and others around us in ways similar to or related to how we were wounded.
Over the many years of my life as a depth psychotherapist and “Spiritual Midwife,” most of the people I’ve worked with – no matter how outwardly functional and even successful – have been deeply wounded – whether they were aware of it or not. And almost all of them had parents who never did their own healing work. Yet, somehow, the people who came to work with me were called to do their work – most of them consciously for their own sakes, many of them also purposefully for the sake of their children, and some of them, in addition, intentionally for the sake of our world.
These wise, courageous people have either known already or learned quickly how painfully we wound others when we don’t tend to our own wounding. If we’re afraid of being attacked in some form, we may hide ourselves deep, deep within, and not take part in life, as a result. Or we may harden our hearts, build walls, and push others away as a defense. We may even learn to fight hard, perhaps viciously, in an attempt to make sure we’re not hurt again in the way we were hurt originally.
At the heart of it, though, is a very young child within us, who was wounded long, long ago – who was hurt, frightened, attacked, abandoned, confused, blamed, scapegoated, bullied and more … long, long ago.
When we get older – to the age we think of as “grown-up,” we believe there is no longer a little boy or a little girl still alive within us. But that belief is not true. We may have been told to “stop acting like a baby,” “grow up,” “get over it,” and “move on,” Yet no matter what we’ve been told by individuals or society, in every one of us there is still alive within that child we once were. And no matter how adult we appear or would like to believe we are … that little child is driving our lives more than we can even imagine. It is not just coming along for the ride. It’s driving our lives from beneath our awareness.
That child is driving our lives with …
decisions we once made about ourselves, others, and life;
defenses we created to keep the bad memories away;defenses we built to keep the painful feelings at bay, usually buried deep within us;
coping mechanisms we devised to manage our young lives in the midst of painful experiences and feelings and responses;
a child’s plans to stay in control no matter how out of control we felt or we actually were.
Our country and our global society is made up of billions of people who suffered as children in wounded cultures with wounded parents who didn’t do their own inner healing work, and, as a result … wounded their children.
We, the people who look and seem like adults, are again at a major crossroads. We can once again ignore the fact that it is the untended wounding that has brought us where we are … the child within who wants mommy or daddy to make everything better and is blinded and disempowered by anyone who promises to do that. Or we can see that healing the wounding within is critical at this juncture: for without the healing, we remain little children, blinded by our wanting what little children want, idealizing the “mother” or “father” who falsely promises things as a way to seduce and grab power for herself or himself, and then never delivers a healthy solution for the children, for the people, for the country, and for the world.
In my journey these past few weeks I have been reaching out to people again and again, to teach this to more people. I have been again and again sharing what I have for years … prayer is important, but prayer alone isn’t enough; action is important, but action alone isn’t enough; in addition to prayer and action, we each need to do our own inner work with the child still alive within us, driving our individual and communal lives.
In these past few weeks, most of the people with whom I work have been doing this work within themselves. On my professional listservs and online groups, a few have spoken of looking within themselves to find what their part is in what is going on.
One of my listserv mates sent out a quote that is quite profound and akin to what I am saying. The quote is from Norman Mailer, American novelist and journalist.*
“I really am a pessimist. I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”
This is so important. Please cut through it to the heart of the matter. Our youngest selves are helpless, powerless, wanting our parents to make it better. Because we are vulnerable little beings, we submit to the mother or father telling us what to do, under the guise of the promise to be taken care of or the threat to be punished. And we act this out in our school years, our marriages, our jobs, and our lives as citizens.
This has to be healed. We have to – not by some imposition from the outside, but by an inner core calling – we have to heal this.
A dear friend asked me a few days ago, “How did we get here?”
I asked her: “Are you needing me to just listen to your expression of your feelings? Or are you asking for my understanding of how we got here?”
She said she was asking for my understanding.
I explained to her in essence what I’ve explained to you above.
Her response: “So it’s that simple? It’s primal? And no matter what else is happening, the primal takes over?”
“Yes,” I said. “You said it perfectly! It’s primal! And the primal takes over.”
Thank you, dear friend. For your simple, concise, powerful, accurate summary of what I shared with you.
It’s primal! And no matter what else is happening, the primal takes over.
We are being called to heal at the primal level.
All of us.
We have been called to heal at the primal level many times individually, and many times communally. In the US we were called to heal at the primal level right after 9/11. And we were called to heal at the primal level right after the 2008 recession began.
Instead we chose to only think of the cause of those events as here-and-now occurrences.
Instead we chose to only think of the feelings triggered by those events as here-and-now feelings.
Some of the causes and some of the feelings were from the time of those two events. But the most intense, most raw, deepest, and most core causes and feelings were from our own individual primal experiences as children. And our ‘no’ to tending to those root wounds fed and contributed to where we are today.
So I remind you once again …
so that now you can become aware of it …
How did we get here?
And no matter what else is happening,
the primal takes over …
until we heal it!
© Judith Barr, 2016
** NOTE: To read the articles that preceded this one in the series, go to https://judithbarr.com/the-election-series/
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
The safety of our world is in our hands.
The safety of our world is in our hearts.
We can all help to create the safety so crucial to our lives and our world…Won’t you join me and…
…Refuse to normalize what is unhealthy and destructive.
…Say “no” to idealizing what is painful and even cruel.
…Resist being seduced by what is, in reality, harmful for us.
…Dissolve our denial.
…Realize we each have an impact.
…Commit to healing our own childhood wounds.
…Get the help we need to do that.
…Don’t give up!
Imagine if everyone in our world committed to do just that! Imagine how different our nation and our world would be!