As a child I had been steeped in the horror stories of the Russian Revolution so when my parents came from BC for Candace's funeral, I thought they would be able to help me understand myself. They just shook their heads - murder was different than war. They did mention shell shock.
No one seemed to help me identify the issues I was feeling - not the church, not my friends, colleagues or the support group.
However the penny dropped when one of the parents brought in a guest speaker to our support group - a returning soldier from Vietnam who shared his experiences and introduced us to the word "trauma." At the time it was a new word - he called it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD.
Research tells us that when a person experiences severe trauma, their identity, personality, emotions, belief systems, everything, goes through a process of fragmentation. "This is when the body divides traits and feelings, and groups them into smaller sections, keeping some of them hidden until a safe space for expression is provided."
What did this look like?
We didn’t eat the day that Candace went missing after school. I think it was around 10 o’clock at night that I realized that none of us had eaten Nothing about the body was important. Only Candace’s life was important. It was the beginning of body fragmentation
I remember walking around the house unable to concentrate (mind) on any other problem other than Candace missing. World news was unimportant. I could only focus on information that was pertinent to the situation - if that.
Our social world was fragmented. Our world was divided instantly into friend and foe. Our innocent neighbors were immediate suspects.
When the police came and found out that Cliff was a former pastor, they accused him immediately of being to strict causing Candace to run away. (Spirit) We downplayed our faith ever after.
Inside and outside our world was broken, shattered and fragmented.
If we look at the Garden of Eden with this new understanding of trauma – we see it being played out in the beginning of time.
After eating the fruit and being infected with fear - everything changed. Adam and Eve hid. They donned fig tree leaves to protect their vulnerability, distrusted God their Creator and turned on each other playing the vicious blame game. They were in fighting mode. We can see them being fragmented.
It was all there - fight, flight, and freeze. Frenzy came later when they were totally immersed in their new crazy world. Because they were now fragmented - they had to leave the garden which is pictured as the perfect place of harmony. The two realities were now incompatible.
God then clothed them with animal furs and introduced them to the rituals of sacrifice - a rather primitive but profound metaphor of forgiveness that pointed to salvation and would be explained and completed when the Messiah came - centuries later.
What a fragmented mess we are born into - and continue to create!
We need the golden glue of forgiveness - a glue designed to soften the ragged edges, fit us back together, hold us and then transform our pain into a work of art outlined in glittering gold.
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. – Ernest Hemingway