Audible is my preferred way of “reading” especially when the author is also the reader. I just finished Oprah’s latest best selling book, What Happened to You? Available now in any bookstore, Amazon and Audible. If you want to have a better understanding of why you or someone close to you does certain things, I highly recommend this book.
Oprah teams up with longtime friend and neuroscientist, Dr. Bruce Perry in this beautiful, moving and healing book about trauma therapy. What does this have to do with photos you ask?
A photo is the beginning of a conversation to learn more. The photo is a bridge into the deeper layers of how we feel and how we felt. Like I’ve said before, “our photos will mean more in 20 years than they will today” but what’s even more important is the WHY.
Me and my Dad in 1975 on my blessing day. Fast forward to today, 46 years later. My Father suffers from self inflicted trauma/ shame cycles. Round and round he goes, depressed, self medicating, manic, in and out of jail, homeless and in and out of my life.
He was the guy that “everybody loved”, the charismatic teacher with unlimited energy and a heart of compassion. He wasn’t aware that this people pleasing behavior was actually killing him. Unrealistic high expectations that couldn’t be met, mistakes that were made and events that occurred in childhood all play a part in his behavior pattern.
He didn’t have the tools to set boundaries with others, say no rather than yes, or regulate his own emotions. In 1970, many people didn’t.
My Father was the first man in my life. The first man that I trusted, loved and looked up to. When I was about 15 years old, he left emotionally and physically. He claims to have had a “nervous breakdown”. He disappeared for years, landed in jail, left my mother, became homeless returning only when he needed something. I resented him. I didn’t understand him. Today, he is still depressed, unavailable and unstable.
I’ve learned that I can’t change my Father, but I can change my thoughts about him. I can change the narrative that I have of him through photos.
When I look at these childhood photos, I can see and feel that my Dad loves me. He may have abandoned me physically, but now I see a bit more clearly. He abandoned himself. You see, I can’t change my childhood story, what’s done is done, but I can change the meaning of what happened to me. These photos give me the power to write my own ending. These photos help me to have empathy toward him.
Pioneer, Judy Weiser created a term called Photo Therapy in the 70’s. Judy is a psychologist and art therapist and spent many years helping people overcome trauma through photographs. Continued research shows many ways that printed photos can be used to heal children and adults.
Our past isn’t an excuse, it’s an explanation, and photos help us process it all. Please print your photos, not for today but for tomorrow. I’ve created an easy app (U.S. only) to help you get your photos off your phone and into a tangible format that lasts forever.
Interested in learning more about photo therapy? We’ll notify you by email!