My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma

Books about PTSD and trauma — written by survivors — are so powerful. Beyond the textbook explanation they offer real insights into what it means to live with the effects of the past. This week’s post is an excerpt from just such a book by Steve Sparks…

My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma

Following excerpt is from: Chapter 3, Parents, Teachers, and Mentors

Author’s transitional note:

steve sparksWhile growing up during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, I felt very lonely and scared most of the time, especially at home.  Although I still live with the painful memories, my journey of healing has given me perspective.  My mind is at peace and there is joy for the most part in my life in these later years.  I now clearly understand that if there had been early childhood and young adult connections that were trusting, the heavy weight of emotional baggage entering the adult world at age 17, would have been much smoother…meaning a healthy growing experience and the challenges that go with maturing as an adult.  My trusted mentors came into my life after joining the US Navy in 1963…sooner would have been better.  As a result, denial kicked in like a strangle hold that wasn’t released until much later in life.

My goal with this chapter is to help kids, parents, teachers, and mentors come together as a closer community family without fear and with growing trust…it takes time.  In the best of circumstances, parents can learn from their children who are building healthy relationships outside of the home, in school, clubs, and at play.  As a community, we do this so much better in the 21stCentury, but it is still a work in progress…

Parents and Teachers Help Prevent Childhood Trauma (ACES)  Quote from this website article from ACES to High News…

“When parents bring a child who’s bouncing off the walls and having nightmares to the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris doesn’t ask: “What’s wrong with this child?” Instead, she asks, “What happened to this child?” and calculates the child’s ACE score.”

Steve sparks book

 

While growing up the question of “what happened to me” never came up…it was always “what was wrong with me.”  This was a terrible legacy as a child to carry forward as an adult.  Even in my later years I have to take a deep breath just about every day and focus on what happened vs. what is wrong.  This constructive thought process saves the day…

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s the conversation at home and in school was “what is wrong with your child rather than what happened to this child.”  Childhood trauma is not new.  We still have toxic homes and neighborhoods, but parents and teachers know more in the 21st Century thanks to the CDC ACES study and testing.  “The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.”

As a child advocate and vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, a popular after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we often have to address all types of special needs of kids, including the effects of trauma.  The more we know from collaboration with public school teachers and parents, we are able to pay particular attention to traumatized children and help them effectively.  I know from my own traumatic childhood experience that growing up feeling alone, scared, and asking myself “what is wrong with me” or hearing “what is wrong with you” had long term damaging consequences on my ability to build self-confidence and feel connected with other kids and my adult mentors.  Eventually, joining the US Navy at age 17 as a young adult saved my life.  No child should suffer from emotional neglect and abuse and believe there is something wrong with them…early recognition and special attention is critical!

When you observe a child bouncing off the walls, or looking scared and lonely, please show love and compassion.  As a teacher, mentor, and parent you are in a great position to help children heal from a traumatic experience by seeking more information about life at home by asking “what happened” and providing the loving care and attention all children deserve…sooner than later…

The author…

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, eventually retiring from Nortel Networks in 2002.  Steve served in the US Navy as a Radioman (RM3) and was honorably separated in 1965.  He earned a BA in Management from St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California.  Steve is married to Judy Lee Sparks and living in Depoe Bay, Oregon.   Steve’s family includes 3 adult daughters, 4 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.  His current passion and life work is mentoring and improving the education of K-12 kids, including helping the responsible after-school nonprofit agency www.neighborsforkids.org achieve sustainability.  He was elected in 2014 to a four year term as City Councilor, Depoe, Bay, Oregon.  Steve is a non-fiction author and blogger who writes about his roots as a post WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Steve & Judy love to travel America, explore new places, and play golf.  Mexico is another favorite destination.

 
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