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A Glimmer of Hope

January 18, 2011

People will amaze you with their resilience. They can adapt to most changes given time. However, pain is one area where adaptation is sometimes difficult, and fraught with potential for difficulties. Yet people continue to hold out hope that they can deal with their pain without resort to drugs. Drugs have other consequences, including the potential for addiction, so they seek out sources of relief through alternate therapies. This post is inspired by an article from Brandan Van Valkenburgh, who practices MFTP therapy and massage at Avante Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska. In Alaska Wellness (Vol. 16, #1, January/February 2011), he talks about a patient confronting pain. He writes that: “Simply by learning about the source of his pain, he was already beginning to feel empowered and in control.” Mr. Van Valkenburgh then described how a majority of the patient’s pain was eventually eliminated.

Mental pain is no less fraught with potential for difficulty. And I believe the same principle described in the quote applies for mental pain-knowing the source of your mental empowers you. In talking to therapists, I have learned that a common question from clients is “Why do I feel the way I do” or “Why do I do the things I do.” It is a search for answers to the mental pain they feel on a daily basis.

This is why our Restoration to Health Strategy is examining very closely the whole concept of a regional dialogue on Adverse Childhood Experiences and the potential it may have for causing some immediate distress. When we had our employees view a video distributed by Cavalcade Productions about “The ACE Study,” we warned them about the potential for feeling distress, and to contact a therapist if it did. The reason is simple, but complex. We don’t really know about the impact our family of origin had on us. The patients interviewed in the ACES talked about the pain they experienced for decades, and the destructive behaviors they followed. But one point well made in the video’s (there are 2 of them) was that knowing the source of pain (Adverse Childhood Experiences) had an immediate and positive impact on those interviewed. They began to realize that they felt and acted the way they did for a reason.

As many studies show, we are remarkable in the way we structure our lives around positive thoughts and accomplishments. We try not to look at the negative. And we fight to be normal. An adult with ACES, while likely normal, still has issues that can’t be explained with the normal everyday knowledge circulating around us. As an adult with 6 ACE’s, and as a pretty decent researcher, I didn’t know why I did some of the things I did or felt the way I did.

The question I have to ask myself constantly is whether opening up these old wounds, ones that affect our behaviors throughout our lives, is worth the results that are possible-considerable healing. I have to answer yes, and Mr. Van Valekburgh’s statement about his patient helps confirm my thinking. A glimmer of hope can help us become empowered to undertake the sometimes long and difficult path to a different, and happier more fulfilled, life.

 

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