The Art of Healing

We all enter times when mind, body, and spirit feel aligned. Today is like that for me, and I'm finding it instructive to look at what lends me peace. It comes down to this: right now I am able to embrace myself exactly as I find myself. My scars no longer repulse me; my skills no longer impress me. Suffering neither deflation nor inflation, I see myself as a human being like all others, at...


Old Age: A Remedy for Early Trauma?

As many of us understand too well, adversity during childhood leads to later problems with identity, concentration, reactivity, and relationships. Yet although I'm far from the person who might have emerged had I been raised with love, in recent years I've been feeling healthier in each of these domains. Some of that improvement can be credited to my longstanding efforts to recover, but the rest is due to something that happens by itself: growing old.



What? Success Doesn’t Ensure Happiness?

The self-inflicted death of Robin Williams is pushing my buttons. And while I've read many commentaries, I have yet to come across one that speaks to the issue I find most affecting, so I feel prompted to chime in.

My take on this tragedy is narcissistic. I realize it's unseemly to speak personally at such times, but I'm going to do it anyway. I detect an important lesson behind this highly publicized suicide, and the best...


Those Absolutely Essential Truths I Can’t Remember

My dog fell ill, and I forgot every healthy lesson life has taught me. Ralphy, an eleven pound mass of gray white fur and--I believe--the most affectionate companion in the world, has been one of my steadiest supporters for seven years. Saturday morning, after seeming tremulous and weak the night before, he showed no interest in breakfast. My pal stood unsteadily with lowered tail, made no move toward his food bowl, and gazed up at me in askance.

What else to do but assume the...


Trauma: Vitamin ‘T’ for the Soul

Vitamin ('vītǝmĭn; noun): Any of various ... substances essential in minute amounts for normal growth and activity.

Imagine a supplement that could increase human compassion and sensitivity. Would you add it to your diet?

If it meant enduring discomfort, as experiences that spur empathy often do, many of us would decline. Our culture places a premium on pleasure and assumes pain is mere punishment, without redeeming features. Yet isn't it the case that those with the greatest capacity to understand...


There’s No Such Thing as an Adverse Childhood

Adverse (ad'vərs,'advərs; adjective): preventing success or development; harmful; unfavorable. Definitions matter, because the words we apply to our lives influence whether we feel hopeful or discouraged.

Can a childhood be adverse? Events during childhood can certainly be harmful and unfavorable. And yes, painful formative experiences often limit success and development along conventional avenues. In my own case early loss, trauma, and neglect contributed to unsustainable career choices, nervous breakdowns, conflicted relationships, substance abuse issues, medical problems, and so on.

But let's...


Child Abuse: Just My Imagination?

Are memories of childhood adversity nothing but self-defeating stories we tell ourselves?

It's easy to question the way childhood hardship lingers on the mind. Does thinking about the past do more harm than good?

A few years ago, after a book and a meditation retreat  raised these issues around the same time but in different ways, I wrote an essay on my private site: WillSpirit. What follows is a revised version of that posting.

In Radical Acceptance: Embracing...


My Childhood Made Me Do It!

The good thing about having been raised badly is that it provides an excuse for the embarrassments of later years.

Have you succumbed to addiction? The Adverse Childhood Experience Study demonstrates how susceptibility to alcoholism and drug abuse rises in near-lockstep with one's burden of early hardships. Has sustaining relationships proved difficult? Data support a similar connection between numbers of romantic partners and formative adversity. Have you struggled to take care of your health and suffered from medical and psychiatric problems more often than others? Rates of heart disease,...


Childhood Suffering and the Promise of Freedom

Can you imagine feeling grateful for childhood adversity?

Though such sentiment would once have seemed absurd to me, it's now an established feature of my life. This striking shift in outlook prompts me to start a new blog.

More than five years ago I launched an online journal called WillSpirit that helped me explore the many problems I faced: professional failings, psychiatric diagnoses, addictive tendencies, stormy relationships, spiritual malaise, and so on. From the beginning I knew my root problem was childhood trauma, but...