The Gum Wall (do not chew on this)
He ain’t got nothing at all
-Sweet Nuthin’ Velvet Underground
We need fantasy to survive because reality’s too difficult.- Lady Gaga
PTSD turned 40 this year but it’s still acting like a teenager; defiant, cliquey, hormonal and a little bit selfish. Up until very recently, the entire history of post traumatic stress was almost solely attributed to veterans of war. All other trauma victims were either unacknowledged or given a diagnosis which blamed them (us) and in some cases, blamed their (our) bodies. For instance, female victims of childhood sexual abuse were said to suffer from hysteria and, according to seduction theory, the roots of female hysteria were linked directly to our uterus. *Gigantic eye-roll*
While they’re difficult to find, here’s one example of a female torso designating the lower abdomen as the region of insanity.
19th Century Body Mapping Illustration, Dr. Buchanan
Back in the day, women could be sent to an asylum for postpartum depression, burnout or accusing their husbands of domestic violence. That day, sadly, wasn’t too long ago. In some cases, it could be yesterday. Global victims of all forms of sexual violence and exploitation are still fighting to be heard, seen, protected, vindicated and given equal access to help. In America at least, we make fun of survivors. Grown ups make fun of other grown ups and it’s called news. I refuse to post humiliating memes of survivors, even for educational purposes but a quick google search of some recent, brave whistleblowers will prove my point. Our country has the emotional intelligence of a 12 year old boy.
Of course, there are volumes to say about the long, dark, patriarchal history of psychiatry but if we want to have any hope of healing in this lifetime, I’m gonna speed things up for us.
In the late 90’s, two white, male, American doctors discovered ten categories of childhood trauma. Eureka! They were treating college educated, middle class, mostly white, Californians at a fancy weight loss clinic. Their patients, despite receiving grade A, top choice healthcare, couldn’t seem to keep the weight off.
Hey doc, do ya think maybe it’s not about the food? I mean, In and Out burgers are delicious but could it be that something’s eating me?
As it turned out, their health issues could all be traced back to childhood trauma. (This is currently considered the public health equivalent of rocket science. Some of us are painfully unimpressed.) The two, white male doctors went on to test their theory and discovered that ACE’s or Adverse Childhood Experiences are inextricably linked to physical, mental, social and emotional health in adulthood.
This five minute video explains it all:
For those of us living in the real world, we know that childhood trauma can’t be stuffed into ten tidy categories. Raise your hand if you had a box of orange government cheese in your fridge. Now raise your hand if you had the shit kicked out of you by someone who stole that cheese right out of your bare hands. In my case, the neighborhood cheese brawl started over a slice of pizza but that doesn’t change the fact that I saw my mother’s head smashed through a stoop window by hungry and oppressed neighbors. Witnessing community violence is not one of those original ten ACE’s, neither is being the daughter of Kris Jenner, a certain Orc-like world leader, or one of the many best, global buds of the Hanged Man, which is why I’m inviting us to think outside those limiting checkboxes.
Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ll ever stop having nightmares, pay off my massive student loan debt and live to see the day when the human race is no longer abusing itself. Maybe I should consider setting the bar a little lower, like being grateful that next month I can confidently assume I’ll be able to pay rent and buy Q-tips. I’m still really excited about Q-tips.
It’s not a question of faith but rather a question of Providence: Dear Supreme Being, One can only assume this is all part of the plan because any other assumption is…grounds for dissociation. For instance, last weekend I was researching how to immigrate to Denmark.
Stay with me though cause I’ve discovered, my tribe can bench press the Universe, no matter where you live.
Voices of authority declared, less than 40 years ago, Post Traumatic Stress is a disorder experienced by more than 60% of us. Our self-awareness is so young it barely has wrinkles and probably wants Botox. What’s so disorderly about hyperventilating when we endure the unspeakable? It seems like a completely rational response to me but I’m not a doctor, life coach, interior decorator, real estate agent, extrovert or morning show co-host. Zero authority.
Adversity is a universal part of the human experience. Why is that such a novel idea? It hurts to be separated from our divine nature, our inherent worth. It hurts to be ranked and filed according to our income, weight, skin color, gender, experiences, blood lines, zip codes, titles, countries, teams, hair, appearance and falsely assumed price tags. None of those superficially designated labels equal the truth of who we are but practice enough mindlessness and they’re guaranteed to make us doubt and forget.
We’re designed to heal, to be holistic expressions of pure love. But knowing by nobodies is just more sweet nothing.
The ACE’s study is essentially a primer for enlightenment. It’s overwhelming to be confronted with the philosophical roots of existence while attempting to wrap a tourniquet around our own hemorrhaging wounds and preserving our own egos. Even Oprah, the queen of everything heard crickets when she went on 60 Minutes and talked about how all the problems can be traced back to childhood trauma. Reality is so boring. Her recent interview with the hot pink haired Lady Gaga was way more exciting. Especially when Gaga told us she was gonna bring all the trauma experts to the yard with her Xanax milkshake and start the revolution in a latex ball gown while singing the next emotionally charged, Grammy winning ballad. If only Gabor, Bessel and Peter would form a boy band.
The fact is, people eating buttercream while talking about alien conspiracies is way more satisfying than psycho-babble about problems most of us don’t have the time, money or energy to deal with. If it’s not going to make us cured, rich, sexy or full in less than thirty minutes, we can’t be bothered. That’s how brutal survival’s become. Who can blame us?
So, I propose that all vitally important information now be shared by Youtubers while they eat the best donuts in every state. If I have to listen to the miseries of humanity while considering what the heck I’m supposed to do about it, I at least want the satisfaction of vicariously eating something that goes down easy.