4 ACEs - perfectionism and practice / by Megan Hollingsworth

On World Health Day, April 7 2017, I learned about The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study thanks to Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris' Ted Talk: 'How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime'. I scored 4 ACEs taking the ACE quiz.

According to Nadine, this puts me at high risk of developing a variety of dysfunctional behavior patterns and physical diseases. My life to this point exemplifies the possible dysfunction and disease, and the potential for healing and relative wellness despite.

As my work on Extinction Witness began in 2012, I was reinvesting my energies toward personal healing with intent to heal completely from shame and fear imprinted through early childhood incest. This healing has been accomplished via a winding path since.

While I was mentally prepared from the start for challenges associated with healing the incest trauma, I'd not figured on and prepared myself mentally for healing from the trauma of parental neglect and paternal abandonment, which complicated the incest wound. I'd say given that parental neglect preceded and enabled the incest, this is actually the fundamental wound for me. The neglect and abandonment wounds had me believe through my childhood that, not only was I unloved, I was unlovable. Thankfully, though suffering the depression of her own incest wound, which is shared between us, my mother is supremely compassionate and loves unconditionally. She is a true mother.

I've wanted and thought it possible to heal completely from childhood trauma and see now that mastering mindfulness practice to manage self-destructive behavior patterns and practice self-compassion may be as much as is possible for me given that the trauma occurred prior to age 6 during the years when my personality was developed. I'm open to the possibility that, if I practice long enough, there will eventually be a true effortlessness to this practice and greater foresight. 

Today, I'm acutely aware of my bend toward perfectionism. Feeling unloved and unlovable will drive a person to attempt perfection when, in truth, imperfection is part of life's genius. Something gets too close to 'perfection' is also something too close to uninteresting.

The drive to create something perfect is so strong in me that imperfections in my own work can cloud the beauty of the encompassing intent from my own view. This drive is crippling in so many ways. Being aware now, I will work to be less critical of me and my offerings. And, not to be too hard on myself for what is my nature, there's something beautiful in paying attention to detail and tending to quality. 

This is real and this is all of us.

- Nadine Burke Harris

World Health Day 2017, I also listened to Paul Hawken's March 29th What's Now San Francisco presentation on 'the World’s First Comprehensive Plan to Reverse Global Warming'. Paul shares the top solutions for reversing global warming by drawing down or 'bringing home' greenhouse gasses. And more.

I won't go into the details or give anything specific away of Paul's presentation because I hope you'll listen to Paul. And Nadine. Maybe in the same sitting, as I did. 

Not listed among the solutions, yet woven throughout the important points that Paul forwards is to think and, thus, speak differently about climate change, ourselves, and one another.

Both Paul and Nadine emphasize the opportunity* in the challenges they've set their minds to, which to me, shows their hearts lead their thinking. And, for me, this - heeding the heart - is the top and bottom and middle solution to the challenge of healing childhood trauma and reversing climate change. For that matter, any challenge one chooses to pick up.

What do healing childhood trauma and reversing global warming have in common? Everything on my list. The challenge I've chosen to pick up is busting through walls between the heart and the brain. Because these walls, which ensure the child's resilience, also ensure sociopathic behavior in adulthood. And the drivers of global warming can be traced to sociopathic behavior, glaringly so when one realizes biodiversity is social diversity.

I'm told and do believe that regularly standing on one's head, if only for a change of scene, helps to clear up any confusion. This since perspective determines reality. So, of all the healing modalities benefiting me, I recommend this. Head stands and while you're there, without moving your neck, attempt to sing coddiwomple 108 times without laughing.


* Brendan Kelly also sees the opportunity of global warming. Highly recommend reading Brendan's book The Yin and Yang of Climate.