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Out of trauma can come resilience and joy

January 8, 2024

We went to Germany over the holidays and got to spend time with my six living siblings. This was the first time in over 40 years that we have all been together. The trauma of our childhood kept us apart because we each developed different approaches to deal with it.

It was not an easy trip, My mind I worried what would be said, how we would respond to each other, if we would address the elephant in the room. In the end it was a delightful encounter. Together (not all at the same time), we went to Christmas markets, ate amazing food, enjoyed hot chocolates and spiced hot red wine.

As I was observing family I noticed how each one of us has found a way to use our story to make for a better world. While some of my siblings don't talk about the trauma, we each found ways to manage it.

W. my older brother not only has an amazing heart of integrity, but also organizes trips for people who are in a wheelchair. He keeps the legacy of my mother alive. Mother had contracted polio in 1962 and was in a wheelchair the rest of her life. Her advocacy around access for handicapped people made her famous, and now my brother is keeping it up. His way to overcome the past is through service.

Monika (me) went through counseling and healing and now advocates for the voiceless and provides a platform to help people reclaim their lives. I have a tendency to work too hard and to struggle with my past. My way to overcome the past is to advocate.

J. has been struggling all his life and has not dealt with much of his trauma, but is an amazing handyman and an incredibly hard working man, and can fix just about anything. His way to overcome is past is through business.

A. one of the twins is a famous chef and travels around the world. His home is in Asia and he has built an amazing reputation. He walks into a room and 'owns' it. After 40 years in a super busy hospitality industry, he is now taking some time to be with his new family. His way to overcome the past was through staying busy and helping many people find their skills.

B.the other twin is incredibly creative and has spent years processing through her past. She makes beautiful art and uses her gift to bring healing to others. Her way of overcoming her past is through her creativity.

B.the youngest, has been the one who holds the family together, loves to travel and experience new things and is an amazing fixer and helper. Her way of overcoming her past is through helping others.

Each one of us has a story, each one of us a way to cope, each one of us found a way to thrive despite our trauma. BUT each one of us also has ways of responding to certain things differently and the trauma is still just one emotion away.

Being with family for the first time in so many years was delightful and we laughed and enjoyed some truly good time together. While we did not go deep, we started a deeper connection and for that I am so thankful.

We all (everyone) has experienced difficult things and I wonder what would happen if we would give each other more grace, if we would help each other heal instead of create new wounds. Author Heather Holleman talks about four mindsets of communication: 1. Being curious about another. 2. Believing the best about another. 3. Expressing interest or concern about another 4. Sharing your own life with others. I wonder what would happen if we would use those ideas consistently with others.

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