Many of us have experienced some sort of trauma in our lives. Let's dive in and look at how the effects of trauma play out in our lives today? Join me for this conversation with Veteran, Pastor, Biblical Counselor, and Author, Peter Martin.
You can find Peter's book, The Fellowship of Suffering: Finding Healing From Trauma Through the Power of Community on Amazon.
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Ep 55 Peter Martin - Final
people, trauma, grief, ptsd, friends, emotions, feel, life, suffering, god, disassociate, grieving, numbing, pain, talking, shut, cry, wife, experience, moment
Peter Martin, Denisha Workizer
Denisha Workizer 00:00
One of the things that I love about doing this podcast is hearing people's real life stories. There's so much that we have that we can learn from one another. And many of us have experienced trauma. Today we're going to talk to a military veteran about the effects of trauma and the different ways that we may find ourselves coping with our own trauma, from dissociation all the way to numbing ourselves. So today, I hope you've enjoyed this conversation with pastor and biblical counselor, Peter Martin. Welcome to Living the Reclaim life Podcast. I'm Denita. We're glad you're here for conversations that revive hope, inspire healing, and encourage you to live a vibrant life with Christ. So grab a cup of coffee, as we chat with today's guest. I am excited to introduce you today to my friend, Peter Martin. Peter is a published author, and we'll be talking about that a little bit today he published the book called The Fellowship of suffering. He is a pastor in Tucson, Arizona, and a biblical counselor for Calvary Christian Fellowship. So Peter, we're so excited to have you today. Excited to be here. And we're going to talk about we're going to talk about a few things today, one of the things we wanted to talk about was trauma. So we just want to give you that heads up as you check in today. As we reclaim our stories, a lot of the things that cause us to need reclaiming can be trauma. And so I'd love for you just to share your story today and kind of where you've come from and where God is taking you. And you served in the military. So tell Dad, tell us a little bit about you.
Peter Martin 01:35
Yeah, yeah. So I grew up in the church have very amazing parents, very loving, caring Christian parents raised me the right way. But when I was around 13 or so I fell away from my faith. And I started to pursue other things and sexual issues were always a huge stumbling block for me. And it wasn't until I was around 16, that I came back to my faith in God. And then that developed a little bit, but then I went into the Marines when I was 18. And my relationship with God really struggled there. And that was when I encountered the aspects of trauma that became very important part of my ministry and the stuff that I do today. But I did two tours to Afghanistan. Same part, it's called Helmand, which is like the state is the province. And then it's Marja city, and we actually pushed into Marja city in 2010, it was the biggest offensive push since Fallujah, in Iraq. And our mission there was to basically get rid of the Taliban that were utilizing that area to produce Poppy, which they use for heroin. And so we went in there had a pretty crazy first deployment, then we went back in 2011 2012. And the area was much more calm. So that deployment was a little bit more chill, thankfully, and came back got out of the Marines, and that stuff just kind of sat with me for a little bit, I never dealt with it, I never really thought about it again, a lot of my friends were diagnosed with PTSD after a lot more after our first deployment, but then some still after our second deployment. And some years later, it was years after we got out. And the effects of PTSD started to settle in for them, and disrupt their life in pretty massive ways. Actually, some of them are on 100% disability, they can't hold a job, they can't, they don't even have driver's licenses, because they black out from the effects of what we went through. But for me, it didn't impact me in that way. And what I realized through going to a counselor after my first deployment is I have this disorder called dissociative disorder. And there's three different types. I'm not going to get into all the minutiae of it. But essentially, my type of dissociative disorder enables me to disassociate emotion from memory. And so when it comes to making memories are creating experiences within your life, the emotion is what tends to anchor that memory within you, especially with trauma. Usually, with traumatic memories, there are emotions like helplessness, despair, fear, or the most predominant one is actually guilt or shame over your behavior or the behavior that was done to you. But for someone like me, that can't happen, because I naturally just disassociate all that emotion. So while I can kind of remember what happened, it's very vague for me, it doesn't really, it's not very cohesive, and I feel like it's happening to somebody else. I don't feel it experientially, like most people do when they go into their memories. So it did protect me from my trauma, but the unfortunate side effects of it is that it buried a lot of my emotions beneath the surface and removed anchors from them. So again, usually when people experience strong emotional responses to things they can tie it to some sort of a memory. I can't. So I just found myself becoming more violent, more aggressive, things like that. I was pushing away family members and friends And it wasn't until years later that I started to realize why I was doing this and to begin to seek help, I think, with people like me, the danger is that we could be so functional. We deal with trauma so well, and we can become so functional and naturally relational to other people, that we don't realize that there is a need to actually go back and work on our past. In other words, it's like, why would I want to go back and dig all that stuff up when I feel pretty functional right now. And it wasn't until as I said, I realized that I was negatively affecting those around me. And I needed to work on those things, that God began to do that work in me. And so it was really cool. Going through it. Not cool in the sense that it was fun, but cool in the sense that it was effective. And it did something very beautiful within me. And it's helped me to inform me and helping others, especially those immediate Lee around me.
Denisha Workizer 05:57
What what started, what helped you to become aware of that need to sort of address that or dive into that? Was it those around you talking to you, or you kind of realizing that?
Yeah, this is something interesting. So it's, it's gonna get a little into what works or helps people that have traumatic backgrounds. So when I came back, I think most people in my life just didn't know what to do with me. They were aware that I had gone through something pretty severe, which is different than a lot of people who undergo trauma, because we can hide our trauma very easily. So it's not like you just go up to people and like, I was abused when I was a kid, you know, usually we hide those kinds of things. And we put on a mask, and we pretend like things are all right. And sometimes, even if we're friends with people for years, they'll never know that we have these kind of darker pasts. For someone like me, I can't hide it. Everybody knows that I'm a veteran, everybody knows, that's part of my story. And when I began to behave in very inappropriate ways, I remember coming back for my first deployment, just sitting down at dinner with my family, and my cousins were there. And they were talking about something that I found stupid. And so I just got up and walked out. And my mom was like, You're gonna leave in the middle of dinner. I'm like, Yeah, I'm done. And I just left. And I was just that way, that was the way I behaved naturally around my friends and family, I was just very rude. I was abrasive. When I was upset. I was very confrontational, and violent, and I would cut people off very easily. And as I said, people just didn't know what to do with me. They
Denisha Workizer 07:34
knew That's right. He came home from deployment. That's
right. So this is all new behavior. I had never acted like this before. And their initial response was like, Well, you know, he, he went to Afghanistan, he's going through a lot, maybe we just shouldn't bring anything up. And the weird thing about being in that place, is that you know, you're hurting, but you don't know what to do about it. And because you don't know what to do about it, you almost began to project those insecurities on those around you. So in other words, you start to feel as though people around you don't understand you, and you start to blame them. In other words, you look for reasons to be upset, and you don't want to blame self. So you start to blame the people around you. And you say, like, you know, why don't you know what I need? You know, I've gone through this really terrible, horrific thing. Why aren't you there for me? Why aren't you doing what I need you to do. And what I recognized very early on is I needed people to call me out on what I was doing. Now, most people don't realize that most people initially when they go through traumatic things, they feel as though people need to validate or affirm them. And that is true as well, we need to find the balance between engaging with people's issues, but also being very compassionate and understanding from where they are, what they've been through. So I had all the compassion, but ultimately, I hate feeling like people are treating me with kid gloves. And I knew that that's what people were doing. Because I was like, my behavior is pretty bad. And nobody's calling me out on it. So I was like, you know, this is kind of like, they're, they're treating me like a child, they're treating me like I am not capable of behaving in a normal human way. And that made me resentful of my friends and family. And it wasn't until later where I remember, I think it was either my dad or my mom, but I started getting upset when they were talking about something and they're like, Do you realize that you get really mad whenever we bring up this topic? And I was like, No, I just got a I cut off the conversation. I walked away, but that that stuck with me. I was like, why am I getting so upset? And is it right for me to take this out on them? And that was the first little seed that something wasn't right. And it precipitated later on where I was actually in the middle of a sermon. Like someone was, I'm sorry, someone else was teaching a sermon. I was listening to it. And they told us really crazy story about praying to God like God, whatever it takes get me closer to you. And I was like, Man, that's really cool. So I went home and I prayed that same prayer. And this is one of the very few times in my life that I felt God speak to me, like really audibly, like, I could hear someone speaking to me. And it was it was pretty radical. So I prayed that prayer, and immediately I got a response. And the response was, what would I take from you, that you would care about, and people with my disorder, the problem is, is because you disassociate emotion from memory, you can't pick and choose, you can't say like, well, I want to disassociate negative emotions like sadness, loneliness, despair, grief, something like that. But I want to hold on to positive emotion like joy, hope, friendship, you know, community togetherness, right, I want to hold on to those, I can't do that. And so what happens to someone like me is the reason why I was capable of cutting off relationships so easily is because I don't value relationships. Naturally, I remove emotion from memory and half of relationships are built through experience, shared experience. I don't do that very easily. And what God was revealing to me is by is by doing this, I numbed myself out, making my virtually incapable of loving or caring for other people in a genuine way. And after, like feeling this overwhelming amount of brokenness, I was like, oh, gosh, like I'm, I'm a mess. You know, like I don't I do treat my friends and family very callously because I don't care about them in the way that I should. And the passage that was brought to my mind at that moment is equal 36, where he says, I will remove your heart of stone, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And to me at that moment that was promised by God that he was going to take my just really rough, hard exterior, and he was going to break me down and enable me to experience things. Not even a week after that, I began going through one of the worst trials I've ever been through. And I felt in that moment, like I could do what I've always done, I can disassociate from this pain, I can just cut this person off, I can move away, and I can do what I've always done. But I felt this, this impression from the Holy Spirit of like, no, like, I'm going to experience this, I'm going to walk through this grief, I'm going to walk through this pain. And I'm going to trust that God is going to catch me that there's going to be comfort for me in this pain and experience. And as I started going through it in the present, what I found is that going through the grief in the present began to tie me to all the grief I'd shut out from my past as well. So it caused me to actually work through a lot of the stuff from my past. And that process is still kind of going on in my life, where there will be things that happen in my present that I'm like, Oh, wow. Like, why is this impacting me so strongly, and I'll be able to tie it to something that's happened in my past. So it's, it's still an ongoing process for me for sure.
Denisha Workizer 12:57
Wow. I love God's heart, too, even when he shows us our brokenness, or he shows us where we are that there's that hope of where he's going to take us. And then were you able to hold on to that? It sounds like a week later here you go through this big trial? Was that something that kind of pulled you forward? Or how did you handle during that trial points, I think a lot of our listeners could, can resonate with so much of what you said, but that moment of hope of like, okay, there's something I'm about to do. And then next thing, you know, something gets really hard for you. How did you navigate that super hard time?
Yeah. And real quick before I answer that, so funny. Whenever I counsel people with trauma, and I tell them this about myself, they're like, I want that. Like how do I get that? How do I become like you? And I'm like, no, like, the point is, I'm not trying to be like me, I'm trying to be different. And it's hard to when you're drowning, again, when you're drowning in that much pain, and you actually get PTSD, which is just miserable. It's like hell, to know that there's an ability to just shut yourself off to the emotions is very tantalizing. And that's why people with trauma, usually self medicate with some sort of drugs or alcohol or something like that, or even actually get Medicaid. They get overly medicated just to numb themselves out. And they become shells basically. But for to directly answer your question, though. I remember, again, in that first week, I had every instinct in me was saying, like, I need to shut down, I need to stop doing this. And I got to hopeful things that happen one after the other. The first one was I was reading CS Lewis's book the four loves, which is a really good book. It's one of my favorite books that he wrote. And at the I think it's towards the end of the book. He talks about love and he says, The only way to be immune from the pain of love is to be immune to love itself. He says you must wrap your heart up and careful little hobbies, shut it in a chest and give it to no one no, not even an animal. So he says In other words, the only place to be free from the harms or the risks of love short of heaven, is to lock yourself in hell. And again, I realized that's what I had done. And essentially what he's getting at, which was something I needed in that moment, was this belief that love, even love containing risk, pain and heartache, is better than not love. So it's a greater gift. And again, I just had to trust and believe in that to be true. And after I read that, I was in the gospels, just my own private Bible study, and I was reading about Jesus. And there's this really interesting moment. And it's only recorded in the Gospel of John, where Jesus is about to go to the cross, and they offer him a painkiller. It's wine mixed with myrrh, and he refuses it. He's like, No, but then when he's about to die, he cries out, I thirst. And they give him the same mixture, and he drinks it, and then he dies. And it's really odd, because you're like, if you're going to take a painkiller, taking it like moments before you're going to die is really not going to do anything like Why on earth would he take it at the end, but he wouldn't take it in the beginning. And again, like God just kind of ministering to me in that moment, I understood. The suffering that Jesus bore on the cross was not his own, it was ours. And in order for Jesus to be, as Hebrews puts it, perfected through suffering, right to be the captain of our salvation, perfect through suffering, in order for him to be that he would have to actually bear it without numbing himself to it. So in other words, as John Stott put it, he said, In this world of pain and suffering, who could possibly follow or relate to a God who was immune to it, so Jesus, wanting to connect with us, and to be intimate with us, even in the most recognizable parts of our lives, which would be trauma, pain, suffering, and grief, would not allow himself to be numb to it at all he experienced at all. And I, again just felt God asking me like, I was willing to go through this to get close to you, would you be willing to go through this to get close to me? And that's when I really clearly saw the reward. What's the reward of doing this? It's nearness to God. It's intimacy with Him. And that became actually the title of my book, The Fellowship of suffering, which comes from Paul, the apostle Paul in Philippians, three, verse 10, where he talks about going through incredible pain and suffering following Christ. And he says, in that passage, that I may know him. So in other words, I go through this, why, that I may know him know Jesus, and be united to him and his death, and the fellowship of His suffering. So Paul saw his suffering as a mechanism to grow in intimacy with Christ. Because how can you grow in intimacy with someone who's described as a man of sorrows acquainted with grief and Isaiah 53? If you don't know sorrow, and you don't know suffering, so I had never thought of it that way. I was like, I just kind of don't want to feel suffering, right? It's really lame to me. But hearing it that way. I was like, wow, like, This is bad. Like, God is not saying that your suffering is good. But he is saying that he can use it for a good purpose and unite you to him. So that that promise was what enabled me to get through it.
Denisha Workizer 18:22
Wow. And that he's with you in it. That's what I hear in your story, too, is that he was with you in that the darker place during that trial? That's beautiful. That's hard. Right? What you said about CS Lewis, that sounds like an amazing book. By the way, when you went through the disassociation parts, you do shut off not only the hard parts, but you also shut off the joy and the love and the, the good parts of our emotions too, because we don't have a switch, right? Like, none of us want to feel pain. None of us honestly, like, Well, now you've brought new new thoughts to that didn't when you talked about I'd never I've never thought about Jesus in that aspect of him not wanting to take the numbing. And that is what we see so much, and in our own lives and other people's Is that is that numbing piece of, you know, how can I make this go away? How can I you know, shut this down so that I can just exist and not have to feel these these hard emotions. But I learned for myself also that when I did shut down the hard stuff, the good stuff went to but it was like a slow fade until I realized I was numb to everything. And that was how I sort of how I dealt with my trauma and that as well. So that's interesting to hear. After this time, when God sort of he was almost like a challenge to lean into me and I will help you get through these parts. And in realizing what was what was the outcome of the question that he asked you, you know, what, what would I take from you? That would matter?
Yeah, so at the time, when he asked me that the answer is nothing right? There was nothing that he could have taken from me and I thought that that was strength. I was like, Man, I would give everything for God and and I could say that very honestly. You know, some some people say that, but they don't really mean it. It's like I had just come back from Afghanistan, like I really, genuinely risked my life just a couple of months back. And I wasn't afraid to do it. I slept in a hole for two months, you know, I went without a shower for eight months. That was something that I genuinely meant God could have asked me to give up anything or go anywhere. And I would have said, Yes. And I saw that as a strength. And in a way it was. But it wasn't a strength in a godly context. It was yes, I'm willing to give up everything. But the reason why I'm willing to give up everything is because I value nothing. Now, I could still say the same thing, I would be willing to give up everything, but it would hurt, there would be a cost, and it would be painful. So at this point, there are a lot of things God could take from me, that would mean an awful lot. God could take my wife, he could take my child, he could take my health, he could take my family, my friends, my ministry, there's so many things that I value in this life at this point. And there's fear and caution there. But that's good. It provides wisdom, it enables me to go away from recklessness. And also, like I said, The Grief is a good thing. Because if you grieve after you lose something, it proves that you really loved it. And so I'm I'm happy, I'm content to grieve, me and my wife, we actually miscarried, the first time we got pregnant. And I remember going through that with her and just like crying with her and experiencing that loss together. And, again, it was that that whole idea of just like we could shut this off, we don't have to think about it. And later on when we were trying to get pregnant again. She was like, I don't want to know, I don't know, I don't want to know if I'm pregnant. I don't want to know if we miscarry again, like that, that's just too hard. And I told her and this is just from my experience, I said, like the little amount of time we got to have with our child, even though it was brief and short. I treasured that time. And I wouldn't give it up for anything, even the amount of loss that we're feeling right now. Any amount of time we have with our children, we're not promised how much time we have with our kids. Any amount is precious to me. And I'm not willing to give that up, even to protect myself from pain. So, you know, talking her through that and working through that with her was just very beautiful and precious to me. And I again, I value that I believe that very firmly that again, I don't regret loving our child that we miscarried and missing them now that they're not a part of our lives. But knowing that we're going to see them one day is incredible hope.
Denisha Workizer 22:40
Yeah. What a difference and how you walked out, you know, you're in your wife's miscarriage then how you would have just coming home from deployment? Hi. Oh, yeah. Wow. If if someone were listening, and perhaps they could really resonate with that disassociation part, or, you know, they don't want to feel therefore, they're numbing what advice having walked through their wisdom? You know, your victory could be a victory for someone else? What? What would you say to them?
Yeah, I don't want to balance this. Again, this is a Lewis quote, where he says Satan works in pairs. And what he means is that like, and he does a very good job, if you've ever read The Screwtape Letters of showing this, whereas like, you know, you think, oh, Satan's not getting me in this area, not knowing that he's getting you in a totally different area. So in order to avoid a cliff, you fall into a ditch, you know, so, right. The, the idea is, when we're walking through this, like I said, there's a balance, there's a very careful balance that we have to maintain. So as my family, they didn't know, how do we confront Peter with what he's doing while still affirming who he is, and giving value to what his experience was. And that's a very careful balance. If you give too much affirmation, the negative behaviors that are produced by trauma are going to continue and worsen over time. But if you give too much, basically judgment towards their behavior and not enough validation, then they're never going to want to come to you for help, and you're going to alienate that person and disable them from being able to heal. So that that balance is really, really tricky. And so when it comes to the question that you ask, is a really crazy balance there, where this process is grueling, and it is like an emotional marathon, right? When you go through trauma, especially like complex trauma, where you know, some traumas like mine, there's a start date and there's an end date, you know, I went there, this is what happened. I know when it began, I know what it in ended, but with some people, they don't have that. They have a trauma that's ongoing. They have an illness that they've been diagnosed with and had their whole lives they have an abusive relationship that lasted years and it was on again and off again. They have multiple experiences of sexual assault, they have you know, whatever, there's no begin date. There's no end date and their trauma might even be ongoing as they're trying to deal with it. And it's so emotionally grueling and taxing on them, that it just feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. And because of that, it's okay to rest. So I'm not saying that you need to just bear it all man, like, you need to bear it all for Christ. And don't try to shut out any of it. There are times to rest your soul, there are times to rest your emotions, there are times to be like, You know what? I tell people this when I counsel them, I'm like, if you come in, and you've had a rough week, and it's just grueling, and you feel like you're just going through the same thing, tell me that, say, You know what? I've been dealing with this every day, it has been rough. Right now I just need a friend right now I just need to hang out, I just needed let's go eat, you know, let's get a cup of coffee. And I'll do that with you. Because I want to just be there with you in this process, you know, and there are times where you need to rest. And sometimes it's okay, even and I tell people when it comes to medication, we need to take a very careful, balanced view of it as Christian some Christians are totally like, no, it's always bad, never do it. Other Christians are like, No, this is really good. Whenever your doctor prescribes you something, take it. My perspective is doctors are flawed, they can miss diagnose, and they can give you pills. And when you're messing with your brain chemistry, you are messing with something that is very topsy turvy, you know, my wife got on antidepressant after we had our next trial, because after the miscarriage, and then getting pregnant again, her hormones just did a complete flip. And she started having thoughts and emotions she's never had before. And it was really radical. But, you know, she got on this medication. And literally, she started to lose her eyesight, and it was making her worse. And so we got off of it. And we started to work through it in a more holistic way, working on our diet, working on things like that. So be very careful when you're messing with your brain chemistry. Because the again, there could be mistakes. Maybe the drug works for other people, but it doesn't really work with your body chemistry. So just be very, very careful about what you're taking know the side effects. I was counseling someone not too long ago. And he got on antidepressants. And I was like, Well, you know why? Why did you go on antidepressants. He's like, Oh, well, you know, my sister died. And then they diagnosed me with depression. I'm like, That's not depression. That's grief. If you didn't, if you weren't sad after your sister died, there would be something wrong with you, or there'd be something wrong with that relationship. You're not depressed, you're grieving. And you shouldn't shut that out. You shouldn't shut out the grief, he numbed himself to it. So there's a really tricky balance in like, am I resting? Or am I inoculating myself to grief to the emotions I need to be experiencing? So you want to let enough of it in so that the Holy Spirit has something to work with. And you can begin to develop process and move forward. But you also don't want to let so much in that it overwhelms you and destroys you, right? So there's a really delicate balance there. And that's why it's important to have a counselor. That's why it's important to have friends and family that know you and are able to look after your emotional state and tell you like, Hey, I think I think this drug is doing too much. You know, I think it's taken away too much. Or, hey, you know, I think you're taking too much on yourself. I think you need more rest. I think you're doing too much mentally and you're straining yourself.
Denisha Workizer 28:21
So important to I think that you said is that friends and family coming around inside you alongside you because they they know what you are normally how you normally behave. And they know I just recently had a friend that was trying she had gone on some antidepressants, and was concerned about finding that right, I guess they call it a cocktail of the right medications to help her brain chemistry. And she was having definitely a brain chemistry issue from what her doctors had come up with. And having accountability. She came to me and said, Here's you know, we normally here's what I'm doing, I will call you if I begin to have suicidal thoughts. Or if I begin to start thinking I'm going to process things with you the way I always have. And tell me if I'm you know where where I'm, you know, if I'm if I'm balanced, or if I'm not that I could tell if she's if her chemistry was balanced, but if she was processing things in a healthy manner. And so it's also good to have that accountability and those friends to come alongside you and tell you, here's what I'm seeing in you because we can always see it in ourselves. You know, that's definitely your brain
is so powerful. Yeah, it is so powerful. And once you're swimming in thoughts like that, because they're your thoughts, it never will cross your mind in the moment that this is coming from a foreign substance. It will It will feel very organic and it will feel very real because it is real. And so you need to have that friend saying like this is not actually organic to you. Right what you're thinking right now what you're feeling is coming from this substance and you need to dial back you need to get on a different medication or whatever, you know, so yeah, absolutely. You're totally correct
Denisha Workizer 29:59
and not isolating, I think is so important as well, we tend to want to isolate I don't know, maybe that's not everybody's go to that's probably that's my go to, if I'm going through something, tech stop phone calls stop, like I do isolate. And I've learned over time that that's not the best place. But the more we isolate, the more we're alone with those thoughts that we can't tell what is the medication? What is us? What is the enemy, you know, kind of swirling in our thoughts. So definitely having that accountability, yeah. Which is
surprising. And a good portion of my book, I talk about this, and I try to provide as much data as I can to let people know that I'm not making this up. Like I'm not just coming up with this out of my head like this is something that's well documented. Basically, what they found out, and there are many experiments that I cite in the book that they've done. And there's also an entire book written on this called tribe by guy named Sebastian, younger on homecoming, and belonging. And what happened to him is he actually got PTSD before it was being talked about as widely as it is today, got it in the early 90s. Being a wartime journalist in some of the Baltic regions, after the Soviet Union fell, he comes back, and he doesn't understand what's going on. No one around him understands what's going on. The psychological community is not really talking about this very much. Because the War on Terror hasn't started. And we're not having tons of veterans coming back with it. And so he starts going around the world, and he starts interviewing different people, because he's like, Well, you know, trauma is not as widespread in America, as it is in these other countries. Let me go to these more. These countries were traumas more common were like, basically everyone has something like this happen. And what you realize is that when he went into these communities, no one knew what he was talking about. So he was expressing to them what PTSD was what he was experiencing, and they're like, We have no clue what you're talking about. And what he figured out is that the more communal a society is, and the more communal by the way that is surrounded by suffering, meaning if the if the community is is battened up, if it's built around, not just good times, but bad times as well, the likelihood of getting PTSD drops dramatically. So one of the countries that he studied was actually Israel. Israel, if you're in the Israeli military, your odds of seeing combat are incredibly high. And it's mandatory, everyone's drafted in Israel, the PTSD rates within the Israeli military are less than 1%. Our military, you're actually very unlikely to see combat, even if you're infantry, you're unlikely to see combat, it's less than 1% of our military will see combat, but over 20% of our military get PTSD. So you see, the stats are actually complete reverse. And he's looking at he's like, these are both Western countries, they're both developed, one actually sees more traumatic things than the other, why this differentiation in statistics, and he started coming up with a theory that it has to do with the way that you treat community, and that they've actually found out like these hospitals in Israel, if you want to figure out if someone is going to have long term PTSD, the factors that they were looking at was the type of trauma that someone experienced. So they're like, if you have, let's say, an abusive home life, you have this likelihood of getting PTSD, if you're raped, you have this likelihood of getting PTSD, and they were rating it like that. But they found out that that was not accurate at all, what you would think, actually wasn't what the numbers were showing. But if you instead substitute like, okay, not the severity of the trauma, but let's substitute instead, what kind of support system the person has. And that became a direct correlation. So that regardless of how severe the trauma is, if someone has a really good support system, their odds of getting PTSD are incredibly low. Now, I want to make a quick differentiation. There is a distinction between what we call acute PTSD and long term PTSD, acute PTSD, virtually everyone's going to get that at some point in their life. That is where you have all of the symptoms of PTSD, but they go away pretty rapidly. So like if you get into a car accident, for instance, you know, people get in car accidents, you know, you have nightmares, you have flashbacks, when you get in the car again, you're jittery, you, you know all the symptoms of PTSD you're going to get, but they're going to go away pretty rapidly. Long term PTSD, you get the symptoms, and they get worse over time. So the more distance you get between your traumatic event and where you are today, the more severe your symptoms become. That's long term PTSD, and that is it's rare, but it is very, if you've ever met someone that has it, it's really crazy to be around them to see what it does to them. And it's very sad, and and discouraging to see it eat away at someone's psyche. But any rate, again, your odds of getting long term PTSD. tend to correlate very neatly with what kind of a support system you have. Wow. Yeah, it's so when I started doing that research, it surprised me and it kind of, as a counselor, it pointed something out to me, where I am not, as a counselor, I am not a substitute for a family friend, support system. I'm not. And I tell people this when they when they counsel with me, I say I'm not, I'm not going to be a friend to you in the way that you need me to be. Because I the only reason I know you is because you're coming in specifically for counseling, I didn't get to know you in the good times. I don't know your your story, we haven't shared life together. I didn't call you up and hang out with you. We don't have mutuality, we don't have common relationships, you know, none of that none of those things that build a normal friendship we don't have. Now I'm going to try to be as friendly to us I can be I want to get to know you. And if we develop a friendship, great. But I am not a substitute for friends and family. That's not what this is. I'm here to just direct your healing process. That's it. I'm to give you spiritual and psychological tools to help you move forward. But ultimately, what you need more than anything, is a support system is a group of people to come alongside you. And if you don't have that feel like well, it's great for people to have it, I don't have it. That's fine. Actually, this is where it's okay to seek out more directed support groups. So if you literally like I do not have a support system in my life, I do not have people that care about me enough to walk through this with me, because the majority of people when they see someone acting with mental illness, they assume they're faking it. It's really sad to say, but that is the knee jerk human reaction, you are faking it, you're making an excuse, you could do better, you just don't want to. And so there's a lot of blame. There's a lot of I'm done with you, there's a lot of cutting off. So it's okay to seek out support groups of people who are struggling with the same thing as you. And you can find them online pretty easily. But you need that you need people around you that are going to walk through this process with you. If you don't have that, again, your likelihood of recovery is frighteningly low. And even if you do recover, what purpose are you recovering for? If you're recovering, just to be alone? You know, what? I counsel people who their only issue is that they're lonely, and it's devastating, just being lonely is psychologically devastating, regardless if there's no other trauma associated with that,
Denisha Workizer 37:41
right. And haven't we seen an uptake in that since COVID. And since all the isolation that we've had to do just for quarantine, and all of that, as well. And we've seen a lot of that people who have lost their support teams from maybe church communities, or, you know, not everybody came back, or the people that I used to hang out with didn't come back, or there's been a lot of that, that we find and that's one thing that we tried to do it reclaim story is try to create that community, so that there's a safe place to come and just be yourself and bring your real, you know, not the mask, not the, you know, I'm doing good, you know, everything's good. You know, we try to create that environment where people can come and really talk to people and and even though everybody shares different experiences and different circumstances in their lives, it can just be that safe place that's constant.
I just reread a brave new world, which is a pretty fantastic book. It's not written by a Christian. It's written by an atheist named all this Huxley back in the 30s, surprisingly, and he predicted this, this dystopian future where everybody's just essentially hedonist you know, they just always on drugs, always having sex, like just living to stimulate themselves. That's it 30 and the 30. And so he's predicting that that's what the future is going to look like, kind of spot on. And one of the things that he points out is that like, if the goal of our society is just happiness and pleasure, you have to do away with grief. So he theorized that there was going to be a society where they would do away with grief and actually crying or weeping is like publicly shaming, you know. So, in that book, there's a scene where the main character does not grow up in this brave new world. He grows up in one of the what they call the savage reservations, he ends up coming to the brave new world and his mom dies. And he's crying over her bed, and they're actually bringing in kids from school to watch people die. And they're trying to desensitize them to death at a young age. And again, you could look at our society and be like, do we do that? Well, we do just not we don't bring people in hospital rooms, but do young people are they exposed to digital death? Yes, in a way that desensitizes them to loss and the answer is yes. So the so he's crying over his wife and all the kids are are laughing because they're like, What a, what a horrible thing to do. Why would you? Why would you cry over this woman, he says she's my mother. And they start laughing even harder, because in that society, there's no such thing as family. And mother, the term mother's pornographic. And so he you know, it just totally flips him out. And he has to, he has to leave. But I found that so interesting reading that. And in Huxley's time, the idea that someone grieving would be something that is shameful, right. And people feel awkward around that, and maybe even mock you for grieving at his time. That was unthinkable. But you know, speaking to my wife, and speaking to other people, so many people tell me, I do not want to go because I don't want to cry, I don't want to be in front. I don't want to cry in front of these people. And they feel they legitimately feel ashamed of grief. And that, to me, is so grotesque, and it is so anti gospel, it is so different than what you read in Scripture, where people in the Bible man, they're so out there with their grief, they're throwing sackcloth and ashes on themselves. They're tearing their clothes there. So it almost seems over the top like a production. But they did, they made no moves to hide their grief. Because no one was ashamed of it. There was no shame associated with grief, that is a totally new phenomenon in our culture. And it's very sick, it's incredibly sick. And I spoke on this, and this is, I'm not trying to make a political statement here. So you know, I'm not trying to say one way or the other what's right or what's wrong. But what I will say is that it was very horrible to me, as a pastor to see so many of our flock die in the last couple years alone, and to infer people not even to think of like, it's important for these people in hospice care, in assisted living, to be able to have visitors in person visitors, for nobody to think that that's important. And to be like, well, we want to protect these people from COVID. That's great. They're protected from COVID. But they're dying anyway. Because you've taken away the reason to live, you've taken away the reason to continue. And that is relationships, that is people that is having connection with other human beings, which is so vital to human flourishing. And we took it away without even thinking about it. And that, to me shows where our culture is at that we wouldn't even think twice about the repercussions of removing that from people even you know, me and my wife, we had our daughter, when the COVID restrictions first started. And there was a fear there was a legitimate fear that I would not be allowed to be in the room with her. Yeah. And I we were both like, that is so crazy that they would not let me be in there with her going through childbirth, which is one of the most physically strenuous things someone could go through
Denisha Workizer 42:51
to watch your baby come into the world and watch my baby. Yeah, that's
right. Yeah. And and that's exactly the kind of culture we live in right now. One that does not value human connection, and one that does see pain and suffering as something to be ashamed of and move, move away from
Denisha Workizer 43:08
Yeah, I can't tell you how many women I've talked to either in person or in the groups that we hold, where they say, I'm so sorry, when they start to cry. And we're like, no, like, we really believe that God has that God reveals it to heal it, you know, that we feel those deep, intense emotions, just as you did as he began to unpack that for you that he reveals it so he can heal it. And yeah, so many women have said in men to have said, you know, I'm so sorry, as they doubt their tears. And what if that wasn't the case? What if that was just a normal expression? That's fascinating that back in the 30s, he came up with that, that it could look you know, more like it does today, but that desensitizing us and teaching our kids and our boys that it's okay to cry, and our you know that that's not a form of weakness. That's a form of humaneness. And that that's, that can be a really beautiful thing. Yeah, yeah. Peter, I really appreciate this conversation. This was really, really great. I appreciate just as real and vulnerability, and that you've given us today. Thank you so much.
Peter Martin 44:08
No problem. Happy to hang out with you. Yeah. And
Denisha Workizer 44:11
how can people find your book that fellowship of suffering? Yeah, so
you just go on Amazon. It's available there, and you can order it online. The Kindle version is out as well as the hardcopy and I'm working on the audible right now, but I haven't finished it. So those two are available right now though. Or if you live locally, you could always just go to my church, Calvary Christian fellowship and pick up
Denisha Workizer 44:32
a copy. Fantastic and if someone wants to connect with you, are you on social any way you'd like people to connect with? Yeah,
so I'm technically on social media. But if you reach out to me there, I will almost never get back to you. I'm terrible about it. I do not like social media. But if you want to get a hold of me if you want to get in touch with me, my email and I will get back to you on this. My email is Peter J as in Juliet, Martin 90 firstname.lastname@example.org. Yeah, reach out to me I'd be happy to connect with you.
Denisha Workizer 46:09
Thanks for listening I pray you found hope in today's conversation and maybe even feel a little less alone in your story. Stay connected with us on Facebook and Instagram at reclaimed story. Want to learn more about living a reclaimed life and how you can be a part of our growing community ever claimers? Check out our website at reclaimed story.com. All of those links and more will be in the show notes. And if you enjoy this inspirational podcast Be sure to subscribe rate and review. Not only will you be the first one to know when new content comes out, but it is also a huge help and helping us reach more people to live the reclaimed life.