This article, also, written in response to the US Election cycle,
is not only about the US. It is about all of us … all over the world.
We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
and we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do.
In the last post I wrote about our unconscious selves – individually and communally – being the source of the dark election and the destructiveness we are seeing in the election and in our country. I said I would talk with you about how that destructiveness within us came to be.
Our destructiveness, conscious and unconscious, comes from our wounding and trauma long ago in our life journeys. We are all somehow wounded, whether out in the open, or subtly and silently. Whether intentionally or accidentally. Whether actively or passively. Whether physically, verbally, emotionally, energetically, or spiritually. Whether in our homes or out in the world. Whether by those whom we need to be able to trust or those we’re engaged with as we grow – like playmates. Just as we are wounded, so also, of course, our leaders are wounded.
I have been following the election cycle for months and months. I have watched instance after instance where I felt increasingly … somebody needs to make sure everyone understands what’s really happening here. Somebody needs to make sure everyone sees what’s occurring beneath the surface that’s causing what we’re witnessing … and what we’re part of. Someone needs to help people comprehend and pay attention to what’s happening beneath the consciousness of our candidates, our media, our government, our businesses, our families, and our individual selves.
This is what I have been working to do for many years and many elections.
I’ve been trying to find ways to clearly explain the wounding of leaders. Lately, the leaders running for President, in particular, as a way to help us really understand them better, as a way to help us see them through the eyes of Love and Truth – with compassion and still holding them accountable where they need to be held accountable. And as a way to look in the mirror ourselves, so we can see ourselves through the eyes of Love and Truth.
I have watched a number of documentaries that have revealed the clues to our candidates’ lives that could help me explain how the election process has been a live demonstration of the consequences of each candidate’s wounding in childhood.*
What do I mean? Follow me carefully:
When we’re wounded as children, we involuntarily protect ourselves against the experience. We need to because little children can’t bear those experiences. So we reflexively bury our feelings, bury our memories, forget both, build walls so we can’t access them, create defenses to help us hold those experiences at bay … we hope forever. As a result, we start becoming a different person than we originally were. We develop thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and patterns of living that defend us against the original wound.
Then, as we grow, those original experiences of wounding keep tugging at us from our unconscious to find a way to get us to heal them. If we can’t or won’t find a way to heal, unconsciously we create repeats of the original wound – repeats called re-enactments – to bring the underlying experiences out into the open. In the open they can be seen, heard, felt, known, and therefore healed. Buried, they can be denied, justified, rationalized, idealized, normalized, and left to create repeats again and again and again. Not only ongoing repeats, but escalated repeats.
In this election we’ve seen many rounds of re-enactment from the very start of the process. And the debates have been live, visible, audible, undeniable demonstrations of the candidates’ reliving and responding to their young wounds.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had childhood wounds. One or both of them may deny it, or idealize their wounds, but it is obvious to someone who understands and senses wounding and its consequences.
Let’s start with some of Hillary’s childhood wounds as revealed in the documentaries.
What they reveal is that her father verbally abused her mother. Hillary would run into her room and put her hands over her ears when they fought. She couldn’t bear to hear the fighting. Also, if she came home with straight A’s on her report card, her father would tell her that the school must be too easy.
So from early on … her experience was to be demeaned, certainly not given credit for her strengths. Hillary was frightened of her parents’ fighting, and yet her mother made her deal with bullies on her own. At 4 years old, Hillary was already experiencing bullying in the neighbor-hood. By her own words, in her first experience with bullying, she was terrified. She went running into the house and her mother said to her, “There’s no room for cowards in this house. You go back outside and figure out how you’re gonna deal with what these kids are doing.” No wonder Hillary built a wall inside as a defense against her pain and terror. To take down the wall would be too vulnerable, too painful for a little girl.
As a depth psychotherapist, I know the layers of terror a child can feel in an experience like this. Not just the layer of terror in the face of the bullies, but also the layer of terror in response to a mother saying “There’s no room for cowards in this house.” Children take things literally. And a such a statement from a mother likely – conscious or not – feels like a threat of abandonment, a threat that she won’t be able to live in this house unless she does what mommy says – figures this out on her own. How frightening! What a painful way to be motivated to figure things out! A little girl of 4 already having to figure things out on her own, scary enough by itself. But then torn between the threat of the bullies and the threat made by her mother.
So here we are in the election and Hillary is being demeaned and bullied – just as her mother was and as she was in childhood. She’s being threatened repeatedly and criticized for her wall. How’s she going to live through it? She’ll keep doing what her mother told her at 4 – go out and figure out how to deal with the bully on her own.
Even if Hillary is not conscious of the repeats, even if she idealizes or justifies how her father and mother treated her … unless she has done her own inner healing, for her as a child, and for the child still alive within her, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding and the threats of wounding, not unlike what she experienced at a very young age.
Now let’s turn to Donald Trump. Again the documentaries reveal major clues that can help us understand his wounding and its consequences.
Donald’s father was a very competitive man. His way of life translated essentially into: Life is a competition. Win or lose. If you win, you’re a killer and a king. If you lose, you’re a nothing and don’t matter. He taught his boys to win at all costs.
Donald’s brother Fred was not a “killer.” And he suffered from it, first at the hands of his father. Donald was a “killer.” And Fred’s death, it seems, reinforced it. Winning infused Donald’s interactions, his responses, his way of life.
We can see that in everything we’ve seen in the election process. He even turns losses into wins, if only in his own mind. And does everything he can to do so. He denies, lies, distracts, and more so he can feel he has won. And when he can’t do that, he turns someone else into the loser, some way, somehow.
Of course Donald Trump would see this as admirable. In the first place, to him that is winning. And in the second place, it’s how a little boy obeys his father. It’s how he makes sure he matters to his father. Yes, even if his father is no longer alive. That’s because like every other human being, the child Donald once was is still alive within him, even though he is likely unaware of that truth. That child Donald is alive within him and driving him, just as sure as it drove him when he was actually a child. Clearly, Donald from a young age worked really hard to be the winner, the killer, his father said he should be. To a little child, it feels like life and death, to follow his father’s instructions on how to be important, on how to be someone, on how to matter. And that’s how the child survives.
A media commentator said recently that Donald will be humbled after election day. “No, he won’t,” I thought. “He will somehow turn it into a win … fighting for survival.”
And Megyn Kelly in an interview with Donald, said to him, “You are so powerful now.” In response Trump said “I don’t view myself as that. I mean, I view myself as a person that — like everybody else — is fighting for survival.”**
Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from his unconscious self …
Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from the child still alive within him …
He is describing the little Donald, the child, fighting to survive by being a winner.
Everyone has a child still alive within with wounds to heal, and acting out again and again what hasn’t been healed. Just because people are in adult bodies, doesn’t mean they are really adults, or even fully adults. There is that child within that is driving the person in an adult body.
Donald Trump is not only one of many, he’s also a very obvious example. Even his wife recently said in an interview with Anderson Cooper, that she jokes that her husband at times behaves like an overgrown boy. And that sometimes she says “I have two boys at home – I have my young son and I have my husband.” ***
Just as for Hillary, for Donald as a child, and for the child still alive within him, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding similar to that he experienced at a young age… even if he wouldn’t call how his father treated him wounding. Even if he would idealize how his father raised him. Nevertheless, Donald is a man, driven by a boy inside, fighting for survival by winning, always winning.
This is true for each of us. No matter how much the adult within us is present to the election, the child still within us is also very much alive, and is driving us through this election process on a primal, unconscious level in reaction to our own wounding and trauma. And that child within us, now once again repeating the consequences of our wounds, will, in fact, be the one making the decisions at the polls on Election Day. And unless we become aware of that child within each of us, he or she will be electing the next President of the Unites States of America, and co-creating with the child within the other voters, the country and the world we will be living in not just for the next four years, but for many years – even generations – to come.
We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
whether or not we are conscious of them.
And we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do…
by not being conscious of our wounds and by not healing them.
If we don’t accept this responsibility,
our fights for survival as children long ago
could and will likely become
our fights for survival in the here and now
and in the future.
© Judith Barr, 2016.
* Frontline:The Choice
CNN All Business: The Essential Donald Trump
CNN All Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
As you see and hear more about the candidates for President, make the commitment to use what you learn about them not only to better understand them, not only to have some compassion for them, not only to hold them accountable from a wiser and more grounded place … but also … to better understand, explore and heal your own inner wounding.
After all, just like the candidates’ inner wounding doesn’t only affect them, your inner wounding doesn’t affect only you. It doesn’t affect just you on any ordinary day. And it certainly doesn’t affect just you on election day.
Ask yourself: When you watch or listen to the candidates speak — “your” candidate or the “opposing” candidate – what do you feel? Can you see and feel the wounding behind the words and actions of the candidates in this election … the children alive inside them acting out their unconscious defenses? And what in your unconscious is triggered in you as you witness the election unfold? How will your own wounds from childhood, triggered in the election, impact your vote on election day? And your reactions the day after?
As you explore … you can also help make this knowing “go viral” and expand the healing in our world by sharing this newsletter via email and social media.
As we approach election day and as the election race heats up in its final lap, there is a lot we can learn about ourselves and heal within ourselves from what we’ve learned about the candidates … if we commit to utilize what we know and see this election time whole heartedly for healing.