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Entries in trauma (1)


Trust is earned in inches.

Safe people, "guard your trust as if it were money in the bank."  - Dr. John Townsend


In the movie, The Horse Whisperer, a young girl and her prized horse, "Pilgrim," get hit by a tractor trailer truck, head on. 

In order to protect his vulnerable rider, Pilgrim throws her off  to the side seconds before the impact.  But Pilgim is not as fortunate as his rider; he takes the full force of the truck's grill in the chest.  He is thrown down the road; his flesh is sliced open, his psyche smashed.  He is a trauma victim.

Trauma steals capacity:  Capacity for trust.  Capacity for connection.  The horse has lost both.

The horse's one hope is Tom Booker, the "Horse Whisperer;" but rehabilitation will be slow.  In a moment of triggered fright, "Pilgrim" breaks out of the round pen, to be found miles away at the long end of a distant field.  Tom Booker responds to the distance with patience.  

The horse is a footbal field away; so Booker sits down in the grass.  And waits.  He won't violate the horse's sense of safety.  

When the time is right, Booker approaches Pilgrim by taking a few steps, less than the length of a car; then sits.  And waits. Then more steps; more sitting.  It takes all day to cover the distance of a football field, until Booker finally has permission to connect within arm's reach; in the horse's own space.  Trust was earned in inches.

Safe people know your capacity to connect shrinks when you're processing a painful experience you can't metabolize.  So they earn your trust inch by inch; for as long as it takes.