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VIDEO PODCAST: Finding the Courage to Face Your Trauma & "The Myth of Special Wounding."

Updated: May 27, 2023

In this episode, I explore:


  • When loved ones won't listen

  • "The Myth of Special Wounding"

  • Why we isolate ourselves

  • Shattering "The Myth of Special Wounding"

  • The difference between healing and recovery

  • The importance of curiosity

  • And so much more...


There are TWO transcripts after the video (below). The FIRST transcript is of the onscreen text in the video. The SECOND transcript is of the spoken words. So if you just want to listen and then circle back later to scan the additional text elements here, I have made that easy.

Thanks, as always, for your time and attention. I hope you find this informative and/or helpful.




TRANSCRIPT 1: Onscreen Text Transcript

THE INSIDE OUT – Finding the Courage to Face Your Trauma

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PART 1:

Finding the Courage to

Face Your Trauma.


“The Myth of Special

Wounding”


PART 2:

Understanding Trauma

Triggers


“Minding the Gap”


PART 3:

How to Break Free From

Your Past


“The Great Uncoupling”



Often, while personal trauma feels entirely private to one’s own life, it can have far-reaching effects that extend into the lives of others.


Committing to address and resolve your own trauma can help to protect your children.


In order to prevent cycles of trauma, it isn’t always sufficient to simply remember and reject the pain that one experienced; it may also be necessary to actively confront one’s trauma with an intent to heal.


In some cases, an unwillingness to listen to advice, helpful feedback, or constructive and respectful criticism may be a sign of unresolved trauma.


Statements like “no one can possibly understand me” may be a clue that a person is self-isolating. While not always bad, persistent feelings of “otherness” may point to a deeper struggle that requires help.


This is not an actual photo. This image was generated using Midjourney.


“The Myth of Special Wounding”

The belief that I cannot be helped by someone unless they have had the exact same, or an extremely similar, experience as mine.


Survival responses are not an act, a scam, or an effort to defraud or lie.


Survival responses are genuine and driven by an unconscious and profound urge for self-preservation.


Self-preservation does not only concern itself with the physical body. Psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual preservation are also factors.


Our own opinion of ourselves can be a significant factor in whether or not we are willing to admit that we could use some kind of help.


Unfortunately, in order to avoid feelings of shame or weakness, we may convince ourselves that what happened to us was, in fact, so insurmountable that help may not be available, or even possible.


This means that, in addition to unconscious body responses like fight, flight, and freeze, we may

also come to rely upon conscious, explicit thoughts to underwrite our feelings of security.


It can be incredibly difficult to imagine new possibilities for ourselves when simultaneously

experiencing both unconscious (implicit) and conscious (explicit) urges to self-protect.


Understanding the diverse array of factors that influence self-protective responses holds the potential to enhance resilience among survivors and improve the quality of care provided by supporters.


Integrated healing and recovery approaches that encompass verbal processing, emotional experience, and body sensations are highly effective in treating the entire self, as they recognize the interconnected nature of conscious and unconscious trauma.


For verbal processing, talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoanalysis, or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), focus on exploring and understanding one's thoughts, beliefs, and narratives related to trauma.


Verbal processing commonly involves verbal communication between a therapist and the

individual who is healing to promote insight and change.


Emotional experience approaches may include emotion-focused therapy (EFT), eye movement

desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or somatic experiencing.


Emotional experience approaches often involve techniques that promote emotional expression,

exploration, and regulation, such as mindfulness, guided imagery, or sensory-based interventions.


Body-oriented therapies, such as somatic therapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, or movement or dance therapy, focus on physical sensations and experiences held in the body as a result of trauma.


Because the body’s many survival systems overlap and interweave, it is not uncommon when therapeutic approaches also tend to overlap.


Outside of therapy, many “ordinary” behaviors may deliver some of the same benefits. Things like exercise, creative-expression, social support, meditation, and connection with nature are just a few, free ways to support your overall health.


Undoubtedly, curiosity has been the skill I cherish the most and consistently utilize in my journey of healing and recovery, as well as in maintaining my overall wellness.


Developing a healthy practice of regular, curious exploration does not need to begin with your trauma.


Over time, allowing yourself to be curious about life’s small things will increase your ability to be curious about life’s bigger things as well.


Once you develop a safe relationship with your own curiosity (fueling your hunger to learn), the fear of life’s many challenges will be tempered by trust in your own ability to learn.


With curiosity, you don’t need all the answers; curiosity is the skill that enables you to find the answers when you need them.


Healing does not happen in parity with wounding.


Healing is its own process.


While related, healing and recovery are not the same processes.


Recovery often involves a journey towards returning to a pre-existing state of well-being, uncovering good that has never been accessed, or adapting to a new normal.


Healing involves restoring balance, promoting growth, and fostering overall well-being.


Healing may include physical recovery, emotional well-being, and psychological restoration.


Healing can involve addressing underlying issues, gaining insight, and finding ways to move forward from the impact of the wounds or trauma.




TRANSCRIPT 2: Spoken Word Transcript

Welcome to The Inside Out. I'm Luke Renner. I'm a storyteller, a film maker and a trauma survivor. While I am not a therapist or a doctor, I do believe in the power of overcoming shame, finding courage and speaking through our fears. I produce this program to bring what's hidden inside out into the light, making the unspeakable spoken and the unknowable known.

Together, we can feel less isolated, be seen and gain better understanding from others, and ultimately, and most importantly, from ourselves.


Now, today's episode is the first part of a three-part series where I'm going to be shining a light on three important concepts that I have identified in my own healing journey. This episode is part one of the three-part series, and I'll be talking about finding the courage to face your trauma, along with the concept I've identified that I call “The Myth of Special Wounding.”


In part two, I'll talk about understanding trauma triggers and “Minding the Gap,” another concept I've identified. And then in part three, I'm going to discuss how to break free from your past, and this idea I call “The Great Uncoupling.” So, let's get started.


Now, the idea to record this three-part series was actually sparked in my mind some time ago when I was talking with a good friend and she was telling me about a friend of hers, a man that she knows very well.


Now, just for the record, I'm going to be intentionally vague about some of these details to protect her identity and his identity. And no, I am not talking about me.


Anyway. She was sharing with me about how this friend of hers had been mistreated as a child and he had been made to feel pretty unloved and unwanted and undervalued, consistently, over the course of most of his childhood and even into adolescence. And these were all feelings that he had shared with her freely.


He had described to her on multiple occasions how he felt that his parents always cared more for the needs of other people, and he was consistently getting stuck with what he called their leftovers: emotional leftovers, financial, spiritual, attention, leftovers. In addition to all of that, he also felt that his parents were holding him to an extremely high standard. They were pretty strict with him, but with other people they were quite the opposite. Very gracious, very forgiving. They were willing to leave lots of room for the humanity of others, including their imperfections. But when it came to him, not so much.


And, so, he had these deep-seated issues with his parents. And my friend was sharing this with me out of frustration because she was actually starting to notice how his confessed experience of childhood and adolescent trauma had radically impacted him to the point where he was now, in her view, unwittingly repeating a lot of those very same behaviors with his family now that he was a grown man and has his own wife and kids, and specifically this friend of mine, she was concerned about his connection to his kids. She described to me how even though he wasn't actually abandoning his kids in any physical sense, he was in fact, psychologically and emotionally, sort of, “checked out,” with his kids. And now they, in her view, were starting to grow resentful of him in much the same way that he had grown resentful of his own parents.

And it was sort of frustrating for this friend of mine because she was saying, you know, he's so consciously aware of how frustrated he is looking back at his past. He seems to have this strong intentionality about not being the way his parents were. And yet here he is, in her view, making some of these same mistakes and not really noticing it.


But here's the kicker, and this is really the element that made me want to talk about this. She was not able to find a way to show any of this to him because he would immediately get defensive and either blow up or shut her out if she said anything that registered to him as being even remotely critical. It didn't matter what her motivations were. It seemed to her like, for him, this was an area in his life where no one was allowed to challenge him because, as he actually said to her on more than one occasion, he would say things like, “You don't understand me, no one understands me. Stop trying to tell me who and what I am. If you didn't go through what I went through, specifically, I don't care who you are, even if you're a friend, even if you say you're trying to help me, you don't have a right to tell me anything.”


Now, this resonates with me personally, very deeply, because I know this defensive strategy really well and I know it so well because I've actually used it myself on many occasions. My wife and I have had these exact same kinds of exchanges where I was the wounded person who had grown up to become the echo of my own past pain. And I was manifesting that pain into what was now my future family. But I could not be talked to about it. I just wouldn't allow it.


I feel like now I understand that, back then, a lot of what I was struggling with was shame and the shame was from this fact that I was this adult in my body. I was an adult, but inside the experience was I felt really stuck in like these childlike behaviors and reactions and feelings. And I couldn't reconcile what I felt like I was supposed to be – an adult – versus what was really happening inside of me. It wasn't an act. I was just really struggling. And, so, I couldn't switch that off because my very identity itself was in fact really tightly wound up with my past... where I had come from, what I had experienced, and how I had never successfully transitioned into adulthood. And that's a really important concept to stick a pin in here. I'm going to be talking about that a lot in part three of this series. And, so, I hid behind the pain and the shame, and I shouted at my would-be critics, basically telling them all wholesale just to piss off.


I did this again after the 2010 Haiti earthquake when I had PTSD from all of the shit that I had seen and experienced during the four weeks following the earthquake itself. It wasn't the whole four weeks, but things happened to me during that four-week span. There was some good in there, but there was enough bad that it caused the PTSD and it was significant for me for about three and a half years after that four-week period, I was very successful at sheltering inside of the argument that “if you didn't experience exactly what I experienced, then you have nothing to say to me that I am interested in hearing and you can't help me if you really want to be my friend.” I thought, “Leave me the hell alone.”


Now I've done a lot of personal healing over the past ten years or so, and I've actually started to name that phenomenon, that hiding inside of “you don't understand me.” I call that “The Myth of Special Wounding.” Now, “The Myth of Special Wounding” is precisely this idea that if you didn't experience what I experienced with some degree of specificity, then I don't want to hear any of your big ideas about what I should do to get better.


Under this myth, under this misunderstanding, I believed that my wounds were far too specialized to be healed or even influenced in your generalized way. So that's “The Myth of Special Wounding.”


Now, it's important to remember that survival responses, while they may not actually be as worthwhile as we hope that they are, or believe that they are, they actually do serve a practical purpose. This is really critical. When we buy into these things, we aren't just doing it to have something to do. We're not bored. The responses are actually helping us in some way. So believing in “The Myth of Special Wounding” did a couple of key things for me.


First of all, it allowed me to feel less shitty for being hurt as deeply as I was. For example, maybe my childhood wasn't perfect. Lots of people have difficult childhoods. It's not an uncommon thing. “Oh, my gosh! Clutch your pearls! Luke's childhood wasn't perfect!” Like, if what happened to me could be considered ordinary, then being as wrecked as I was, I would be ashamed of that. But I can hide from the shame or I can avoid it altogether. If I can claim somehow and believe that my wounding was in fact special or different than the ordinary difficult childhood.


Now, it's not that I needed to believe that my hurt was real. My hurt was absolutely real. I wasn't confused about that at all. What I needed was to not feel small and pathetic and weak for having been hurt by things that other people may not have been hurt by, by things that other people might call ordinary. So then, if I was in fact hurt and I was and I didn't want to feel shame about that, I needed to believe that what happened to me was special, a special kind of wound. If what happened to me is special or unique, then no wonder I feel as messed up as I feel. Being able to believe, like deeply believe, that it was the experiencing of special, not ordinary circumstances that caused me to be wounded in such a big way is the initial value that I gained from believing in “The Myth of Special Wounding.” It meant that I had nothing to be ashamed of. Even if I couldn't love myself, which I really had a hard time with, at least I could think of myself as a survivor of something truly difficult. And so then I could therefore at least tolerate my own company.


So, saying, “piss off, quit telling me how to solve my problem. You weren't there. You don't understand.” All of that was a really complicated way for me to believe in myself.


It's important to remember here, the battle for people who are suffering from trauma is never “out there.” The battle is always “in here.” So whatever strategy I'm using for healing, it has to work in here inside of me. It doesn't matter if it works for you on the outside. I didn't give two shits if it made sense to anybody else. If it was working for me in here, I chalked that up to a winning strategy.


Now, interestingly, it may in fact be true that if other people had gone through the things that I had gone through, they too would have been wounded in a similar way. But I didn't use that possibility as an excuse to seek help. I used it as an excuse to hide. And of course, isolation is one of the most insidious and one of the most common self-protective responses after we've been traumatized.


So, whatever it is you may be doing as a healing or recovery tactic that's working inside, I think it's really important to ask yourself, is this a wholesale rejection of contact with all people?

Is there any element of what I'm doing that magnetize me toward community, or is it all a pushing away or a cutting off... all in isolation from community? If it's the latter, you could very well be looking at a survival strategy that isn't healthy. It might be working, but it doesn't have long term success at its end. This brings me to the primary reason that I relied upon “The Myth of Special Wounding.”


Believing in “The Myth of Special Wounding” allowed me to isolate myself so that I didn't have to risk being hurt again. With contact comes the risk of being hurt or harmed again. With isolation comes the perceived or felt assurance that I couldn't possibly be hurt again because I'm not making contact with anything.


The reason I didn't want to make contact... and I did not know this when it was happening to me... The reason I didn't want to risk the potential hurt that could come from being exposed to other people or situations is because I was still locked in self-protection mode. I was stuck in an uncompleted and unresolved and as-yet unfinished survival response. Even though the events that had traumatized me were long since come and gone, I was still very much activated.

I was not ready. I was still very raw.


So, if I can push people away through these special circumstances of what happened to me, and I can create this rule that the only people who are allowed to help me are the people who have an uncanny understanding of my problem, because they went through the exact same thing I went through... an exact carbon-copy of what I went through... If that's the requirement, if that's the bar that has to be reached, then I could pretty much guarantee that no one was ever going to get close enough to hurt me.


I won't have to feel judged. I won't have to feel shame. I won't have to feel challenged or measured or not good enough. I can just tell people to “buzz off” and they do. I mean, it actually worked quite well. It was terribly effective.


Even though I created this myth for myself, there was a part of me that actually bought into the promise that, “Hey, if you do find someone, then yeah, you'll be able to get help and you will get help from them.” Unfortunately, what I was predominantly doing when I bought into “The Myth of Special Wounding” was effectively guaranteeing that no one of any kind will ever be able to help me at all.


Even if someone got really close to matching my experience, I could just dial up the degree of specificity that I required in order to add more distance between us. Sort of like how a person controls the volume on a radio by turning the knob up or down. “Oh, well, so you were there? You went through a lot of what I went through? Well, did you go through this?” “Oh, no, I didn't go through that.” “Now, see, that's one more thing that's like kind of I... I probably needed you to go through that and you didn't. Darn. Now, please back off.”


What felt like a bar that could theoretically be reached was something that I used indefinitely to keep people at arm's length. I boxed myself in and I was the only one with the key. I became my own prisoner and the warden and both of them were scared and unwell. And, so, this self-protective response ultimately proved to be really harmful for me. It's fascinating to me how, sometimes, the very things that we unconsciously design to protect ourselves can be or become the very reasons why we are not getting healing or help. And, so, we remain trapped in our wounded state by a mechanism of our own design, which was perhaps once helpful, but no longer is.


This episode of this podcast is an acknowledgment that I believe I am not alone and that there are listeners who have likely experienced some of the same stuff I'm talking about here. You might be one of them. Maybe you're currently doing this “The Myth of Special Wounding” buy-in that I'm talking about. Maybe you've been unaware of it. If you've heard the argument that I made in support of “The Myth of Special Wounding” the argument that only people who have been through exactly what I've been through can help me. And you thought to yourself, even if only for a moment, “Yeah! No, I think that's kind of true. I agree with that.” Then I would just say, you might be currently stuck inside of this very same self-protective isolation trap yourself, not saying you are, but you might be. And if that's you, I want to invite you to hear what I'm saying with a deep sense of curiosity, not judgment, not condemnation.


Curiosity is the key to most self-healing. That's been my experience because judgment and shame and criticism and all that crap that lives on that side of the line, those are the things that keep me from wanting to do the work, from wanting to go there. Curiosity gives me a safe way to do it. It can be truly, truly terrifying to face your trauma.


In some cases it might even be risky, but unresolved trauma doesn't just go away. It requires attention. Which means this... if you're afraid to face it now, no matter when you decide to finally act, there's a good chance you're going to feel afraid then too It reminds me of a quote that John Wayne said: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”


If you delay because of fear or really any reason, you are only burning up your time, which is one of the very few things that you cannot get more of. In some cases, the longer you wait, the scarier it can get or the more damage you'll have to repair from letting your trauma wreck your life that much longer or the lives of those around you.

So, there's a reason why we need to be facing these things as soon as we possibly can. Fear be damned. Take that courage in the face of that fear and saddle up anyway. But there's no need to feel crappy when saddling up.


Don't judge yourself harshly. Don't be critical or hate on yourself. Instead, try to say things to yourself like “This is very interesting to me. I have been doing that. I wonder why I've done that. Maybe I shouldn't do this anymore. Or if I do want to keep doing it, maybe I should know why.” Things like that. It doesn't have to be heavy.


Now, if instead you feel that the argument of “The Myth of Special Wounding” still holds up or has merit, then allow me to challenge that logic briefly for just a moment.


Just for giggles, take a moment and imagine if you can as many ways as possible that you can conceive of that a person might be able to break their arm. But this doesn't need to get dark. Try to have, I guess, fun with it. There could be hundreds if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or a million ways or more to break an arm.


But how do we heal broken arms?


Are there millions of ways?


Are there thousands of ways?


Are there even hundreds of ways?


The truth is there are typically only a handful of approaches that may be used or needed when dealing with an arm that's been broken. In the broadest terms, you'll probably get an x-ray, a doctor or some kind of specialist will set your bone. They'll either put it in a cast, maybe a sling. Worst case scenario, if it's really bad, there may be rods and screws and that kind of awful stuff. But the truth about fixing a broken arm is that healing happens in far fewer ways than wounding happens.


Hear me when I say this... healing does not happen in parity with wounding.


The process of healing does not need to match or get permission from how you were wounded. And this is true because healing doesn't happen by hitting rewind and reversing your way back through the very specific thing that happened which hurt you.


Recovery may, in fact, include some of that. But let's be clear, the words “recovery” and “healing,” they're entirely different concepts.


Recovery might require some kind of backtracking, because recovery, in a very literal sense, may mean going back and picking up your shattered or scattered pieces. The pieces of good that were left behind along the path that you were dragged. Recovery can also be a process of rediscovery or even new discovery where you encounter your essential goodness, the purity of who and what you were before you were victimized or hurt or separated from that core goodness. Or maybe you were never afforded an opportunity to discover that goodness at all in the first place. So, recovery can help us reclaim or claim for the first time that essential good. But that is different from healing.


Healing is an entirely free standing and different process which exists apart from wounding and it exists apart from recovery. Healing is what's going to have to happen to stop the bleeding to regain some strength, to secure your ability to continue living forward from that moment of loss, on into the future.


When it comes to healing, we cannot afford to let the way in which we were traumatized dictate the rules of our healing, or whether or not we are even allowed to heal at all. So if you are finding yourself inside of the target of this episode's focus, inside of “The Myth of Special Wounding,” I invite you to carefully consider what that might be costing you in relationship to what you believe it has been providing you. Challenge the promises that isolation is making. Require isolation to back up its claims... to “put up or shut up.”


Do not make the mistake of forfeiting your entire sense of self to a comfortable idea, to an intoxicating myth, to a matrix of your own design.


There's no rush here. You're still the boss of you. But that's precisely what I'm here to remind you of, because I know that sometimes comes while being in charge of our own self-protection and self-preservation.


It is possible to lose ourselves inside of our self-defenses. And so that's what I wanted to share with you in this episode.


Please be sure to check out part two of this trilogy as I take this exploration one step further. When I talk about understanding trauma triggers and a concept I call “Minding the Gap.” For now, that's all I've got.


Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoy what's happening here, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. For podcast listeners, visit LukeRenner.com. There you can find the link to my YouTube channel. On YouTube, you can subscribe, comment, like, share and stay connected with me and others. If you're already connected on YouTube, don't forget, hit that bell button if you haven't already, to get notifications when I release new material.


So, until next time, please be safe, stay curious, give grace, make love and be truly alive.


Thanks for listening.

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