I was five years old standing in a room full of weeping adults. My mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, great grandparents were all sobbing. It scared me to see my beloved relatives in such terrible grief.

I tugged on my aunt’s sleeve. “Why is everyone crying?” I asked.

“Oh, honey,“ She said softly reaching out for my hand. “We just found out that your Daddy died in the hospital.”

Two soldiers had come to the house with the terrible news. It was 1942, the beginning of World War II. Daddy was an Army doctor. He had been on the way to care for Japanese Americans who were being rounded up and sent to a camp in Texas in the fear-driven reaction to Pearl Harbor.  When Daddy discovered that he had gotten on the wrong train, he tried to jump off it as it left the station.  He fell under the wheels and died.

Five days before his death he had taken me to his army hospital to consult with his colleagues about my tummy ache. It turned into a totally unanticipated appendectomy. Mother was still at home doing the laundry. This sudden operation, our move to Indianapolis while he volunteered for wartime duty, his death, my mother’s disappearance into her grief and shock led to a lifetime of self-examination on my part.

I had healed so much that I thought there was no more information—no more to be learned. However, this memory of being in that room of devastated adults was new to me. It came in a Getting Present Process (p.155 of The Four Principles book. https://thefourprinciples.com ) during my latest Creative Explosion. One of the participants, who has repeated this two-day workshop many times over the years, was my “Compassionate Witness.” Initially, when she asked the question: What sensation are you experiencing in your body right now, I felt incredible joy in my heart.

Then this vivid memory of that room of devastated adults emerged suddenly from my subconscious.  I felt as if I were 5 years old desperately wanting to say or do something that would be comforting to them. But, at that young age, I had no skills or understanding to draw on.  But, oh, how I wanted to help them somehow. I couldn’t and didn’t.

As I experienced this during the Getting Present Process, I realized, as an adult, that this deep yearning to help my relatives became the seed that years later has flowered into my teaching and these workshops. In a way, I am now fulfilling that heartfelt desire of my five-year-old self. From that trauma came the gift and my joy.

How often something like that happens to people: a woman becomes a grief therapist after the death of her own child. Rape victims offer comfort and help to other rape victims. Cancer survivors support other people facing cancer.  These are not easy gifts, but when we do realize them and offer what we have learned to others, they become a source of our own happiness.

Join me for The Creative Explosion Workshop Sat and Sun 1 to 6 pm August 13 & 14

To purchase The Four Principles and The Four Keys to Authentic Acting books and for more information about the workshops: https://www.EKatherineKerr.com



One thought on “A GIFT FROM TRAUMA

  1. Powerful essay, Katherine. What a gift your trauma and lifetime of self-exploration has given all of us in the form of The Creative Explosion.

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