My Personal Transformative Journey with ACE
It feels strange to write a piece on working through childhood traumas. I’m writing from a first-person perspective and it leaves me with a massive feeling of imposter syndrome. After all, I didn’t go to school for this. Truth is, I’ve spent the past year going through various programs such as Reiki, Meditation, and Breathwork, learning about the sub-conscience mind, and many other topics.
The more I uncovered the science of childhood traumas the more I asked myself, what now? You see, I’m already 42 years old with an ACE score of 7 and an autoimmune condition, Multiple Sclerosis. What good will it do me to know my score, and what do I do with that knowledge? These were all very valid questions and I was starting to worry. What do I do now? I now know my answer is that we need to teach our kids healthy ways to deal with life’s stressful situations.
After about six months of talking to my therapist and coincidentally around the same time as I discovered the science behind Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), I realized my own traumas had played a massive role in how I was navigating my life. First, I never really learned to set healthy boundaries; second, I almost always accepted more work and responsibility because giving back made me feel good and gave me something else to focus on. I extensively started to think about all our pandemic kids and how stress may just affect them in the future, you can read about that here.
At the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I felt I was being pulled in every direction. I had a substantial amount of crucial volunteer work, as I was sitting on various boards, I was still running Choice MD, and added to that were the unusual amount of Mom duties including substitute teacher, due to the lockdown. I’ll be honest, those were the issues on the surface and life was really hard. The few moments I had of enjoyment were the ones where I gave myself permission to just play and connect with Amelie. I wasn’t happy and I knew something had to change.
For starters, I realized I needed to give myself permission to just focus on feeling whole again. A good friend had mentioned a mental health retreat in California and I was lucky enough to be able to set aside a week to go to Esalen, a not-for-profit holistic educational center in Big Sur California. My days were spent learning in class, connecting with individuals struggling with their own issues, and taking in the beauty of Big Sur. There was very little internet connection and inconvenient hours to discourage people from connecting to electronic devices.
I spent five days exploring my traumas through three different modalities and on the last day, our cohort of 43 individuals, was literally hypnotized four times in a span of three hours. It was an incredibly difficult journey, yet oddly I felt rewarded as I can’t think of anywhere more breathtaking to be when going through such a process. When I think back now, there was so much I appreciated about that week that it’s hard to recount it all without sounding like a commercial for Esalen. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have landed there on the week that I did. I had the ability to learn from Laura Day, Gahl Sasson, and Nancy Winston. They quickly gained my respect and I came to find out later that they are highly revered in their fields.
That week was transformative and because of the benefits to my mental health, I decided to continue on my journey. In the end, I realized the most valuable bit of information I would walk away with from ACEs was that if I found a healthy way to deal with life’s stressful situations I would teach my daughter through example in a loving and supportive manner with the hopes of stopping generational traumas.