"A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history" - Valerie Rein, Psychologist, Author
You've been there. Trying to go to sleep at night and your mind won't stop racing. You feel challenged to get it all done. It seems everyone needs something different from you and you're not sure how to keep up with it all. You experience trouble with intimacy, just not feeling the connection and your worrying feels like it has increased from a mutter to a loud thumping of negative thoughts. So, you try everything in the self-care world from pilates to pampering and if that doesn't work out you turn to wine, food and other numbing agents. Why do we do this?
Well there is a theory that many of us may be experiencing Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD). Men and Woman have been living under the reign of the male figure for so long we have developed a never ending trauma cycle.
Dr. Valerie Rein has written book about inter-generational trauma that affects people everywhere. Essentially, the ways in which Men and Women experience stress has been passed down for generations. Rein says both genders experience PSD and that there does not need to be an early childhood trauma for individuals to be impact. Instead the trauma exists today because it has been passed down from Great Grandmother, to Grandmother, to Mother to you. Isn't that special?
The reason this caught my eye is because many of my clients live in a heightened state of awareness desperately trying to create systems, ideals, and situations to feel safe. It's exhausting. Certainly, hyper vigilance contributed to my time of burnout and it was almost unrecoverable.
You see, our nervous systems can freeze when we are faced with a threat. In the days of the cave man, a threat would have been a large animal or isolation from the tribe. In modern days, we suffer this nervous system response in situations like stepping into our power, being heard, increasing visibility or becoming the family bread winners.
The challenge is that if we are living in a constant state of hypervigilence ready to fight or flight, our nervous system gets exhausted, we can never relax and our bodies experience adrenal fatigue, strokes and other diseases.
"Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal." - Valerie Rein, Psychologist, Author
When I was going through my divorce, I spoke with a colleague about how my husband was always willing to watch the kids when I was out of town traveling for work. This felt like a good thing. My colleague pointed out that yes it is a good thing, but it is also a natural thing. There is reason to be grateful but there is nothing unique about caring for the kids. No one praises Mother for watching the children when Father goes out of town, but somehow when Mom leaves town, Dad's a hero. You see I had been made to feel that my husband was doing something extraordinary, when in reality he was simply parenting. That is generational patriarchy at it's finest.
So, how do we get out of this trauma induced pattern? With some awareness and grit. If we know that trauma is driving the chatty little voice in her head, we can ask ourselves some questions about we may be doing in our lives to challenge the power status quo. You may find that a simple act of not taking the kids to school in the morning, ended up as a trauma trigger and you are quietly punishing yourself for "selfishly asking for help" for something you have done hundreds or thousands of times before. Stop beating yourself up and look for normalcy in shared power. Use your newfound awareness as another tool to stay "plugged into personal power and happiness".