Tag Archives: #myjourneypart2

My Journey of Healing… A life-long work in progress…

 

Vernon H. Sparks and Marcella K. Sparks..Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Fernley
Lyon County
Nevada  USA

  • Honor
  • Remembrance
  • Forgiveness
  • Healing
  • Love

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My journey of healing is truly a life-long work in progress that has provided a peace of mind never before achieved.  My life transformed after publishing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story in November 2011.  I no longer have anger or hate in my heart from growing up in profoundly dysfunctional family circumstances.

Like tens of thousands of families living in the post WWII and Korean War era, we lived without any awareness of the painful outcomes resulting from exposure to traumatic experiences from wars, domestic violence, child abuse, maltreatment, and alcohol self medication.  My family was fractured over 7 decades, consumed with the challenges of post trauma stress symptoms that replaced the gift of love with the pain of anger and hate.  In our military family life, the wars of our father never ended when he came home from years of hard combat.  The “battle stations” experiences of his deeply held emotional struggles came home to the dinner table.  My mother was scared and numb from this exposure as well.  We children feared going home from school or play with friends.  Our family life was profoundly dysfunctional, especially during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

I now have a completely different perspective of a most challenging childhood circumstance and experience.  I see my parents as doing the best they could do with what was available in their parental toolkit during this difficult time in the lives of so many who returned from extended deployments in hard combat during WWII.  We did not have a trauma informed society back then…just the opposite.  Sailors and soldiers were told to go home when the war was over and forget about it, never talk about the horrific experiences, battle buddies who were left behind, death and carnage almost daily for months and even years at a time.  But the severe emotional pain became bottled up in the heart and soul of these hardened combat veterans.  The pain did rear its ugly head at dinner tables all over America for decades, including the post Vietnam War era, until we started learning about severe trauma’s long term affects on the children and families of sufferers.

For those of us lucky enough to find a path of healing and recovery from the damage of severe traumatic experiences, it is possible to achieve peace of mind.  It is possible to learn how to love yourself and others.  Forgiveness seems like a gift rather than giving in   Being vulnerable is not only okay, it is a healthy disposition in our daily lives.  

I think about Mom and Dad with love in my heart and a healing soul…  I could not have felt or said this a short 7 years ago.  I feel blessed and at peace, living with joy and love for family and friends. My journey of healing continues each day with the good work of public service in Lincoln County Oregon, being mindful of living in the moment, and appreciating the blessings each day offers.

Steve Sparks with Judy Sparks…author, blogger, child advocate, mental health champion, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

Boomers at 70 will change America Again…Making a Difference for Humanity… by Steve Sparks

“These seventy something Boomers are poised to give Millennials some real competition for attention. They have the opportunity to become increasingly relevant — socially, economically and politically — and more responsive than previous seniors to the needs of an ever changing nation.” Click here for more…from USA Today…

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Boomers at 70 will change America Again!  As I turn 70 on July 6th, with countless others from my generation, my excitement and energy for this next decade of my life has never been better. It is the younger generation of millennials, children and young adults that keep my spirits high. I take my cues from the youngest and brightest, and strive to be the best senior mentor in a rapidly changing world.

We should listen to and observe the creative and disruptive behaviors of our children, and young adults.  Never push back the kids and tell them to think about something else that is more serious than what we think they are doing at the moment.  What do we know?  We adults and seniors should never lose sight of kids who remind us how to live in the moment and make dreams come true.

Reflecting on my childhood and young adult experience so long ago, I still behave the same in many ways.  As a child I was always asking questions about many things, wondering, and dreaming about all the possibilities, and still do this each and every day.  I have a very busy mind, just like a kid.  I tested the stormy seas many times in my life and have known great success and the lessons learned from failing. I get right back up just like youngsters and keep fighting and moving forward one day at a time. Kids fall down often and always get up.  Kids have resilience.  Even under some tough circumstances as post WWII and Korean War military kids we got back up and took ownership for taking the next scary step forward.  We boomers must get right back up too!  No giving up and going home to watch CNN or FOX; or to hide on the porch, lost in a world that is safe while others are struggling and in pain.  Get out and make a difference for humanity each and every day.  Your wisdom and leadership is a vital source of energy in your community.

Now at age 70, I want to keep the child in me alive, and jump in with both feet, just like the younger generations do each and every day.  I want to be in the middle of all the action even now as the 7th decade of my life is staring me right in the face.  The child in me is the fuel that keeps a fire burning in my belly.  It is also love of life, spirituality, and humanity that gets the blood pumping in my veins everyday of the week.  Mostly it is my love for people and cultures everywhere.  It is from my soul and heart that making a difference for others drives me to keep on fighting for healthy change…to help others keep pace with a rapidly changing world, and to not become complacent with the old ways of doing things.  Kids help us stay on top of our toes and to never become complacent.  While doing all this, I have more freedom to smell the the ocean, hike in the mountains, explore new places,  and reserve quality time with my family and friends.  All of this energy provides a healthy balance for me at this pivotal time in life at age 70.

I celebrate children and young adults who keep teaching us about dreaming and making stuff happen.  Just look around and keep your eyes open, and listen carefully.  The kids are moving forward very quickly, even without us adults, because they can, and they should.  If you don’t recognize this happening for any reason or do not see any value in keeping pace with your kids or grand children, get a smartphone, laptop, tablet or other technology device and catch up with the reality of social media communications in the 21st Century.  We are blessed to live longer these days as seniors and must stay on top of our game to make a difference.  We can’t go home, sit back and watch life from the sidelines. It is our duty to step-up and lead again.  Older Americans are a critical human resource and needed right now.  In case my boomer friends and colleagues didn’t see the memo, we never stop mentoring, guiding, and facilitating.  I feel needed right now! If you don’t feel needed in these later years, walk with confidence into the fire storm of community action and find your place in a changing world. Your work is not done!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Post Trauma Growth Advocate, and Children’s Champion…

Reconciliation, A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order other stuff from Amazon.

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Post Trauma Growth Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

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Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational post-trauma stress (PTS)

 

 

Surviving, Thriving, and Healing from Post-Traumatic Stress… My Personal Perspective…

 

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County, Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

My personal perspective of living with post-traumatic stress…by Steve Sparks…

There were many years that the thought of my big brother getting hit in the head and knocked out by Dad triggered nightmares and uncontrolled emotions.  Although the nightmares rarely happen anymore, the events of that time stay with me.  The horrific nature of seeing my big brother almost killed by our father comes to me almost every day, sometimes more than once.  The never ending toxic turmoil and dysfunction in our home left me feeling numb and without empathy and compassion for others.  The worst of post-trauma conditions is becoming self-absorbed, caring only about your own interests and survival.  There is no world larger than self in the worst case of emotional challenge in life after trauma.  My thoughts were mostly of self-defense and survival each and every day followed by self-medication at night.  Self-talk was filled with trauma from the past and fear and trepidation of the future.  I couldn’t talk to others about my feelings because no one else could possibly get it or understand.  Mental health was, and still is to a large extent, a risky topic to explore with others, especially family members and those you work with in your professional life.  Living in the moment and feeling safe is a life-long work in progress.

It was always challenging for me to trust others without some sort of escape plan and defensive position.  My feeling was that survival was an all-consuming occupation.  Even as kids we would avoid being visible or exposed for fear of being criticized and punished for being “bad, stupid, and sinful”.   For many years spirituality was something connected to religion, not my soul.  I didn’t know how to love until my mid-30s. I never trusted anyone completely and with unconditional love until later in life.

I have learned to live with and mostly mitigate the fear of failure and excessive insecurity in these later years.  For most of my life as a child, through adulthood and midlife years, my fear of failure served me well with intense hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal as a professional.  But these persistent and less than healthy post-trauma stress symptoms did not work well for me at home when free time should be used for peace of mind and relaxation…a mindfulness existence is a gift.

At home in a safe environment, I was always on the move and could not sit still.  When the pain creeped in during weekends, or holidays and sleep deprived nights, I became angry with outbursts and rage at times. The absolute worst part of my behavior is acknowledging how it hurt others close to me, especially my family.  What I know from research and awareness now is the larger tragedy of post-trauma stress on children and families. The transferred emotional pain often appears as a secondary post-trauma affliction in loved ones on the receiving end who become care givers and must try to live with the toxic behaviors of a parent, partner, or mentor. The generational consequences become a much bigger burden on others in your immediate family and society as a whole. 

I drank alcohol for self-medication until age 55.  I got addicted to narcotic pain and sleep medications in later years due to arthritic pain and joint replacements.  The combination of alcohol and prescription medications was a very bad cocktail and almost took me down.  The grace of God and my wonderful, loving, compassionate and caring spouse saved my life!

Yes, I believe now that healing from a painful and traumatic past is possible.  But it takes discipline, focus, and lots of love from family and friends.  Healing for me is fueled by my passion to make a difference for others who suffer from debilitating mental health conditions.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff from Amazon.

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Click here to download for $3.99. “Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational post-traumatic stress (PTS)…”

My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2…Survivor’s Speak by by Michele Rosenthal…

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Saving your children, family and loved ones…

 

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Heal My PTSD, Trauma happens, so does healing…

Gene

Dr. Gene Sharratt, Executive Director for the Washington Student Achievement Council, appointed by Governor Jay Inslee

“Steve is absolutely correct, instead of “what is wrong,” how about what happened in this child’s life that can lead to greater levels of support, connection and authentic interest in the child. A listening ear, caring heart, and genuine long-term interest a child builds needed connections, confidence, and respect for the unique and individual gifts of each child. All children need to feel secure, safe, protected and valued. These emotions build healthy childhood and adult relationships. Trusted adults are key to this success and they are found in parents, teachers, counselors and others who, daily, impact the lives of children. The legacy of any great country is found in the treatment of their children. Steve’s wise counsel provides a pathway for building a legacy of hope, opportunity and happiness for our children. His book is a “must read” for those interested in ensuring all children have the opportunity to enjoy a safe and rewarding life.”

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Author’s transitional note:

steve sparks

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

While growing up during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, I felt very lonely and scared most of the time, especially at home.  Although I still live with the painful memories, my journey of healing has given me perspective.  My mind is at peace and there is joy for the most part in my life in these later years.  I now clearly understand that if there had been early childhood and young adult connections that were trusting, the heavy weight of emotional baggage entering the adult world at age 17, would have been much smoother…meaning a healthy growing experience and the challenges that go with maturing as an adult.  My trusted mentors came into my life after joining the US Navy in 1963…sooner would have been better.  As a result, denial kicked in like a strangle hold that wasn’t released until much later in life.

My goal with this chapter is to help kids, parents, teachers, and mentors come together as a closer community family without fear and with growing trust…it takes time.  In the best of circumstances, parents can learn from their children who are building healthy relationships outside of the home, in school, clubs, and at play.  As a community, we do this so much better in the 21stCentury, but it is still a work in progress…

Parents and Teachers Help Prevent Childhood Trauma (ACES)  Quote from this website article from ACES to High News…

“When parents bring a child who’s bouncing off the walls and having nightmares to the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris doesn’t ask: “What’s wrong with this child?” Instead, she asks, “What happened to this child?” and calculates the child’s ACE score.”


Steve sparks book

Click the book cover image for author page to order books and other stuff from Amazon…

 

While growing up the question of “what happened to me” never came up…it was always “what was wrong with me.”  This was a terrible legacy as a child to carry forward as an adult.  Even in my later years I have to take a deep breath just about every day and focus on what happened vs. what is wrong.  This constructive thought process saves the day…

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s the conversation at home and in school was “what is wrong with your child rather than what happened to this child.”  Childhood trauma is not new.  We still have toxic homes and neighborhoods, but parents and teachers know more in the 21st Century thanks to the CDC ACES study and testing.  “The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.”

As a child advocate and vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, a popular after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we often have to address all types of special needs of kids, including the effects of trauma.  The more we know from collaboration with public school teachers and parents, we are able to pay particular attention to traumatized children and help them effectively.  I know from my own traumatic childhood experience that growing up feeling alone, scared, and asking myself “what is wrong with me” or hearing “what is wrong with you” had long term damaging consequences on my ability to build self-confidence and feel connected with other kids and my adult mentors.  Eventually, joining the US Navy at age 17 as a young adult saved my life.  No child should suffer from emotional neglect and abuse and believe there is something wrong with them…early recognition and special attention is critical!

When you observe a child bouncing off the walls, or looking scared and lonely, please show love and compassion.  As a teacher, mentor, and parent you are in a great position to help children heal from a traumatic experience by seeking more information about life at home by asking “what happened” and providing the loving care and attention all children deserve…sooner than later…