Hi this is Dr. Valerie, thank you for tuning in. Today I’m going to talk about something I get asked about a lot, is how my work in PSD, Patriarchy Stress Disorder relates to men and how PSD plays out in relationships. So this week we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, it’s a good time to have this conversation and I’d like to kick off this topic by acknowledging a simple fact that men doesn’t equal patriarchy and patriarchy doesn’t equal men okay?
Let’s agree on this simple fact and acknowledge that patriarchy is a system of oppression and has been around for ten thousand years or more and the system traumatized women and the system traumatized men but differently. I’m gonna share with you a few insights about how to recognize these traumas and how they play out for modern men and women and what we can do about that most importantly right what we can do about that.
So first let me start by sharing with you what I mean by trauma or traumatized, because we were used to thinking that trauma is a life-threatening experience, being held at a gunpoint, kidnapped, something that happens in combat, and I am going to share with you that yes, severe traumas are classified as traumas with a capital T, “big T” traumas, and there are also “little T” traumas these “little T” traumas are experiences that made you feel unsafe, they made you feel unsafe, they were not life threatening but they threatened your system enough to make you feel unsafe physically or emotionally, physically or emotionally. And they led to creating trauma adaptations.
What are trauma adaptations you might ask? These are, yeah, these are things that keep us safe that keep us safe going forward. So I’ll break them down a little bit and show you exactly how they play out in relationships, because if you’re having any trouble in your relationship or you’re having trouble finding the one, chances are it’s not you, these are hidden traumas at play. So let’s get into that a little bit shall we? So, hidden traumas, we all have so many, we have layers of traumas. I talk about PSD as the collective inherited trauma oppression that women carry.
For women it shows up in very specific ways where it’s never been safe for us to be visible, to be powerful, to love who we love, to have our own money, that wasn’t even on the menu. So when we start to play big in the world, our nervous systems are signaling “it’s unsafe, it’s unsafe, it’s unsafe”, and it either goes into freeze, where we’re stopping ourselves in the tracks and as we’re reaching toward our goals and dreams, or we are working hard on our goals and dreams and our nervous systems are constantly in overdrive because we are feeling unsafe in our subconscious based on all that past trauma that gets passed down generation to generation and as a result we are constantly fatigued, we’re burning out, we have all the fallout on our health, autoimmune conditions, migraines, trouble sleeping, trouble relaxing, etc etc, and troubles with intimacy.
Which brings me to today’s topic. For men, patriarchy affects men as well and here is how: the membership in club patriarchy comes at a very high price. Patriarchy only accepts one very narrow definition of what it means to be a man, and you may very well know what I mean. I mean this like classical, almost cartoonish, macho ideal, where it’s all about being aggressive and competitive and athletic and a strong, silent type, right? Women, we all want a man like that, don’t we? We actually want a man who can connect with us also emotionally and be vulnerable with us, and be able to be deeply intimate with us, in sex and in conversation, in every way. Basically we want a full human and I don’t want to talk for all women, so please forgive me if I’m overstepping, maybe some women just want a strong silent type who never shows his feelings and doesn’t connect with her in any way, but most women I’ve ever worked with as a therapist and coach and trainer now have confided in me that they actually want a whole human being, and they want to be a whole human being too. So interestingly we seem to want the same things.
By the way men, all men I’ve ever worked with and had deep enough conversations with, also crave that they also crave being able to be full human beings with everything they’ve got. With the full spectrum of their emotions, with their strengths and their weaknesses, and the vulnerabilities, and their sensitivities. Men can be very nurturing, men can be very feeling and expressive, and it doesn’t make them any less, but here’s the rub. Patriarchy is the rub, because the wound of patriarchy for women is the wound of worthlessness.
Women are taught that we are worth less than men our minds, our bodies, our lives. And men are taught that they’re worth less than the patriarchal ideal of this non-existent, robotic, super aggressive, super detached, unfeeling man whose only job is to hunt and go to war. And that doesn’t serve anyone right, but that’s how everyone is wounded. So everyone is wounded and I’m so glad that we’re having this conversation during this week when we are celebrating connection and romance and the first place where we connect is, we connect within, we connect with within ourselves.
So what separates us from each other? What creates conflict? How does trauma create conflict? Trauma creates separation within us, it creates disconnection within us. You know all these parts that society and other sources of trauma, all our life experiences told us that these parts are unwanted, those were shamed, those were shamed from things like, “Okay boys don’t cry”, or “Girls, don’t be too loud, don’t be too smart, don’t be too sexy”, right? All of these things that we got either overtly or we just absorbed growing up in society what it means to be that ideal man or woman in this society, and again, it’s very binary, I’m very well aware of the gender spectrum but patriarchy insists that there’s only one way to be a man and there is only one way to be a woman and nothing exists in between right? So people are traumatized by that division and the trauma is imprinted within us, and so as a result we grew up and we adapted we have these drama adaptations, remember I talked about those? And those trauma adaptations are protecting the traumatized areas within us, all the places that were made to feel not okay, not enough, there is shame around them and that is protected by trauma adaptations.
So within us we have this fragmentation, this shattering of different parts and they’re lost and protected by trauma adaptations. So this divides right, and so when we get together one person has these divides, within the other person has these divides within, they’re all protected by trauma adaptations, “Oh don’t look here, like I’m hideous here!” It’s like Beauty and the Beast right? We all have these beasts inside of what appears to be beasts, to the parts of us that are, that have been made to feel ashamed, of the fullness of who we are, and truly these beasts are all royal, beautiful beings that need to step into the light and be reclaimed.
So that is the essence of trauma, fragmentation separation, is the essence of trauma and the essence of healing, is stepping into the light, just like Beauty and the Beast, “Step into the light” she says to him, and when he does, she begins to get to know him and then he transforms right? And that’s the essence of healing from awareness, shedding the light on all the parts that have been made to feel like not okay, not enough. To then reclaiming them, opening the locked doors, so that we can become whole again. Those divides, those separations dissolve, we become whole, we embody all of our authentic parts, uncover them, dust them off and now we become more and more shiny as we do because we reclaim all of those parts who are made to feel ashamed for feeling our emotions, expressing our emotions, for being funny, for being serious, for being any kind of way that we wanted to be. That was somehow judged right? And now we’re so painfully hiding those and so healing involves stepping into the light and how that relates to relationships well, when we are no longer hiding the parts with them and were able to come together and connect and be vulnerable. Why we struggle with connection, why we struggle with vulnerability? The answer is that, and Brené Brown has done a lot of research has told us a lot of good stories about shame and vulnerability, and I bring the piece of trauma as something that underlies that all.
What creates shame? Trauma creates shame. Trauma is actually as, I mean the shame is actually a symptom of trauma right? Something gets triggered that was unwanted and locked away and what we feel is shame, we feel not okay and then we engage in some trauma adaptation to keep us safe and that adaptation may be to hide to put a stone wall or it may be to run. The adaptations fall into three categories: freeze, fight, flight. So yeah, we either kind of play dead and refuse to participate or we engage in in a fight, an argument, or we run away. So next time you feel that in your relationship, you may become aware of this when you’re already in fight, flight, freeze and if you can, stop for a moment.
And before we wrap up I’m gonna give you one tool that you can use to stop for a moment because it’s not easy to interrupt the trauma response but it’s necessary if you want to heal yourself and your heal and heal your relationship. And once you stop, and you come back into your body, then you can actually trace the whole, the whole sequence of events, how something got triggered in you and it triggered shame, it triggered not feeling okay, it triggered some intense emotion, and then it showed up as that trauma adaptation. So these trauma adaptations are the ones that are actually messing up our relationships and of course the the key to resolving them and coming together again is healing.
There is this beautiful story about, it’s a true story, about a statue of Buddha that was found in the 60s, in Asia and the statue was huge was made out of clay, and when people who discovered the statue began moving it to a different temple, a monk was shining the flashlight on the statue and noticed that it’s shown into a crack and the light started to shine back and they discovered that the statue was actually not made out of clay, not made out of plaster, it was made out of solid gold. Why was it covered in plaster? Because, to protect the statue from the wars, from the enemies, from being stolen and it survived for hundreds of years, but it was solid gold inside.
So that’s exactly what happens in relationships. We, as we’re growing up, we’re born solid gold. But through different traumatic experiences that we’ve inherited and experienced in life, any experience that made us feel unsafe put a little bit of clay, a little bit of plaster, on our solid gold on here, in here, here, in here and over there, and by the time we get to adulthood we’re pretty much plastered up right? And when we fall in love with somebody, initially we connect gold to gold. There is a crack in the plaster somewhere we are able to show up authentically with each other, and see each other’s gold. That’s what we fall in love with, but then we get in the relationship and those old traumas start to get triggered again, again, again, and more plaster goes on, and more plaster goes on, and what we actually want is come together gold to gold.
And here is how to do that, there is only one way to do it, is to feel safe. So that the plaster can come off, a little by little and feeling safe begins with recognizing that there is trauma that gets activated, that leads the trauma defenses, that actually shows up as arguments, stone walling and other things that are eroding, destroying your relationship and we didn’t sign up for that, right? We signed up for intimacy, we signed up for connection. So how to feel safe is to keep your own traumatic expressions in check, your own triggers in check, and learn the tools to bring your nervous system into a calm state after you have been triggered and went into that trauma response and for your partner as well understanding that and working with their own right? So it takes two.
Here is the tool I promised to you, that you can start using whenever that trauma response gets triggered. It’s very simple, you can download it on my website DrValerie.com/repower and this is a very simple audio that you’re gonna download and it’s gonna explain exactly what you do in a moment when you feel triggered, when you feel like starting an argument, when you feel like running out, when you feel like acting not in the best interests of you or your partner or your relationship.
At the end of the day we all have the same goal, and our goal is gold right? Connecting with each other and with ourselves, gold to gold, being shiny human beings, shiny authentic, whole human beings as we were born to be and the plaster of our trauma adaptations has been there for hundreds of years, has been there for a long time for each one of us, to keep us safe, so we’re not going to start tearing it off, it’s not gonna happen, but we can start shining the flashlight of awareness finding those cracks and creating safety within our own bodies and in our relationship and for one another so that we can feel safe enough to come together in intimacy and share a little bit of our gold with each other that’s my wish for you this Valentine’s Day and I’m gonna talk more about the trauma adaptations that that show up.
In closing, I’m just gonna say a few words for those who are not in relationships and are longing for the one, it’s the same thing, it’s the same trauma adaptations that are creating that plaster and your gold is so plastered in, so no matter what you do, you want somebody to relate to you authentically and show up for you and love you exactly how you are, you need to show up exactly how you are, and for that you need to create that embodied safety same thing, shining the light of awareness finding the cracks feeling safe and recognizing how trauma creates more and more plaster if nobody can see you, see your gold, then they need all this plaster, how can anybody see your true beauty, your true brilliance, and resonate with it and let alone create a relationship where you can have that gold to gold connection. So it’s the same process whether or not you’re single or in a relationship and it doesn’t matter what relationship you’re in it works in your relationship with any human being not necessarily a romantic relationship.
So, DrValerie.com/repower, is a tool that you can use as your flashlight and as a way to create safety, to show up in your gold. So I am wishing you lots of shiny gold moments and I would love to hear in the comments how are you using the tool in your relationship with yourself, in your relationships with others. Thank you so much for tuning in and I’m going to let you know that very shortly perhaps even in a few days, it’s coming right up, so get excited. If you are resonating with what I’m teaching right now, we’re gonna have an even more expanded training coming up on all things PSD, how it’s showing up and other kinds of hidden trauma, how to heal them so you can live your best life, express your gifts in the world freely and feel happy and fulfilled in the process.
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