Trauma Like Candy

August 25th, 2022

When I was growing up, my dad took us camping a lot.

That meant a lot of s’mores, mosquito bites, boat rides, sunburns, worms pierced with hooks, hammocks, and campfires.

On one particular trip, during elementary school break, I had become fascinated with the fire pit on the grounds. It was made with giant stones, and when there wasn’t a blaze roaring, I found myself endlessly walking in a circle on those stones.

(Camping is boring, y’all.)

One morning, I was up early and decided to do some fire pit rock hopping. At this point in the story, I should mention that I was not wearing a shirt. I should also mention something that had not been mentioned to me: the adults had been up very late, very early, so the fire had been put out just moments before I took my first step.

I slipped. I fell into the still-very-hot pit on my back. I managed to push myself up mostly using my pinkie, but I had severely burned my lower back.

The next few minutes were both vivid and a blur, but my dad played the scenario in his head and his solution was to take me for a walk.

He had me walk off a severe burn.

This is not an indictment of my dad. (He was sincerely doing his best.) This is also not what I would do if my son had experienced the same situation today.

This is a commentary on generations.

I saw a tweet that (correctly) assessed that people can be split into two camps:

1. “I suffered, so you should suffer, too.”

2. “I suffered, but I will do everything I can so you don’t have to suffer, as well.”

The “you should have to suffer crowd, too” tend to have an interesting perspective on it; they often claim that even though they suffered, they turned out alright.

I don’t know if I have ever met a human being who is actually alright. And the quirks and flaws and character defects we possess can sometimes be something we’re born with, but most of that comes from trauma inflicted upon us.

Humans do not have it figured out. We know this because we still pass along trauma like candy.

We are supposed to be the helpers. If there is a generation younger than you, you have a responsibility to them: do less harm.

Not until we stop inflicting harm on the generations we are supposed to be raising and protecting will we even be close to a society that has got it right.

We are not close.


Published by dennisvogen

I'm me, of course. Or am I?

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