The Wine: 13 Celsius 2021 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
The Winery: Hotel “Pearl,” My Jeep (Hip Camp “B’s Farm,” Monroe, SD)
The W(H)ine: The Sixth Love Language (Trauma Tales from Home)
“The greatest agony is an untold story within…” – Maya Angelou
7/6/22 Chardon, Ohio
After soaking up all things Canton, Ohio Fourth Family Festivities connection (Read here.), I hit the road for Chardon, a solid hour and half northeast in the County of Geauga, which felt like no time at all after day-long drives getting cross-country.
I stay here often on my trips home. A dear friend and her precious husband live here. We have walked through a lot of life together. Though we first met in a church service back when we used to go (that’s another story for another blog, or maybe a book), we grew close as very-non-traditional-students working on our respective bachelor’s degrees at Hiram College, circa 2010-2014-ish. Neither of us knew what we wanted to be when we grew up, just that we were already chronologically past the point of society’s beckoning our decision, so we both surrendered not to our soul’s passion, but to the expectation of those damned voices still living out loud in our heads. She got a degree in accounting. I, in business management.
Turns out we are both Creatives by calling.
But we did not let ourselves be that, then. We studied what we felt we must.
Much stood in the way. Mostly, unhealed traumas.
Over the many years of friendship, we have exchanged countless tales of lived experiences, cried on each other’s proverbial shoulders (though I am definitely the crier in the relationship, she more stoic), shown up when shit hits the fan and dear ones die, talked each other off cliffs of doubt and grief, and notably, compared therapeutic notes as we took our trauma scars to similar therapies, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Link
On this July holiday visit, however, my friend shared a story she never told me before.
July 4, 1969. A day that lives in Lakewood, Ohio infamy, one that until two weeks ago I never heard of, though I lived in Lakewood for over a year before moving to California in 2017.
As the article in the below link states, “A Hollywood horror movie could not have scripted such an ill-timed tragic event.” Fifty-three years later, memories haunt. It’s a touchy topic.
My friend was ten years old at the time, celebrating Independence Day at Lakewood Park with her parents and five siblings. In the instant the storm approach, her wise and agile momma collected the crew and ran for their vehicle, where the family huddled for hours after the derecho did its deadly damage. It took fifty years for she and siblings to return to the scene of the storm.
To go back to the place where pain pushed them all beyond the pale of psychological stability…where a long-ago trauma triggered feelings of fear, loss, pain…until it no longer held such a hold on their soul, they could return…
And: Reclaim the space as safe and impose upon their brains, new memory.
I tell you this story for a few reasons (and with my friend’s permission).
Firstly, even when you think you know someone, there’s always more to learn.
Secondly, our lived experiences shape who we become, what we do, and where we go.
Thirdly, when we want to, we can return. Or not.
Both choices are Valid. No one ought to ever feel they must, or compel another’s return to the scene, people, or places, of historical trauma. It is okay to walk away, and never return.
Finally, I learned to love and appreciate my friend more deeply, after hearing her trauma tale. I understand now why weather reports matter so much, why while Lakewood remains a happy recall for me it’s an avoidant topic for her, and how brave a path my friend has trodden all these years remaining in NE Ohio, where storms roll in often, and wreak havoc aplenty.
7/7/22 Cleveland, Ohio
Speaking of returning to old haunts, between leaving Chardon and meeting daughters at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, I made two stops in Cleveland to re-connect with a former professor and a former pastor. With the pastor’s permission, I share the following…
We carved out our connections carefully, cultivating conversations around a space we intentionally made safe for the other, recognizing and understanding a few key milestones. July is the month his son died not so many years ago. Ohio is a place I left after an ex did damage to my face, a person I met in this pastor’s church long before.
These are touchy topics.
So, we grace the space between us with mindful consideration of the other’s trauma tales. Some might call this “walking on eggshells” or avoiding the “truth” or draw some other (judgmental) conclusion.
I call this trauma-informed care, a Sixth Love Language....
In his most recent book (one I had the privilege not only to help edit pre-publication, but also to contribute to in that Chapter 21 tells one of my trauma tales, albeit hugely condensed and anonymously offered), Rev. Dr. Cornelius W. May provides the following perspective on emotional pain: “Here and there, hurts and setbacks, now and then, heartbreak and trauma are all neatly stored away inside of us. Given the right moment, or the wrong one for that matter, each unaffirming memory can come flooding back.” (p. 9)
Knowing each other’s stories of struggle helps us navigate the relationship without imposing insult to previous injury. Consequently, I left our meeting feeling encouraged, carrying a signed book copy, and looking forward to future connection, as this one built needed trust for the next.
A follow up text from the good Dr suggested he felt the same.
The Sixth Love Language: Learning One’s Trauma History
In 2007, Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages topped the bestseller lists, stemming from his work as a marriage counselor, and informing the five ways humans give and receive love from their significant others: Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch. Read more here.
However, I believe these so-called languages flow from one’s lived experience of early-childhood attachment with primary caregivers, and thus, we must leave room for yet one more category (at least): listening to and learning his/her/their tales of trauma.
When we take time to hear another’s stories of struggle, oppression, pain, abuse, neglect, loss, and sorrow, we undoubtedly gain insight that can help us give others the safe space they need to feel loved.
When we consider the great angsts and agonies that remain unprocessed within our many souls, individual and collective, we better understand and can grant other’s needs for distance, solitude, or space apart.
What other languages might our loved ones speak that we have yet to learn?
Next Blog covers Daughters’ Delight in Milwaukee, plus two days crossing South Dakota, Spending a night in my Jeep, Another on Oglala Lakota Reservation, then two more days hauling ass across all of Wyoming, Utah, a Forest Fire, a snippet of Arizona, most of Nevada, & at long-last, home again to California…