These Three Books Will Help You Unpack Years of Trauma

Alexandra Tsuneta

These three books taught me more about myself than I ever imagined

This past year of quarantine has been a time of self-reflection, self-realization, and transformation for myself and so many others. Sitting alone with only your own thoughts allows you to enter the darkest parts of your mind, to sit with them, and to allow them to become a part of you. We spend so much of our lives denying trauma, not realizing what trauma is, and not accepting that abuse and trauma happened to us in the hopes of seeming “strong”. 

However, and more importantly, we tend to downplay our trauma, we attempt to explain away the actions of our abusers or explain that they weren’t so bad in the first place. This kind of denial of our trauma is, in fact, a denial of ourselves; for as much as we may not want to deal with what has happened to us, we must confront our demons, live with them, and accept them as a part of ourselves and our realities. 

Denying trauma and not learning to live with, accept, and forgive both ourselves and the trauma that has plagued our lives is a sure-fire way to experience a myriad of issues; of course, some of these issues are mental, but you will soon learn that your body is a living time capsule of everything that has ever happened to you. This brings me to my first recommendation: 

‘The Body Keeps The Score’ by Bessel van der Kolk

In his groundbreaking work, Bessel van der Kolk explains how trauma is stored within your body and has lifelong lasting experiences. 

News Scientist explains:

Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues. The list of its effects is long: on mental and physical health, employment, education, crime, relationships, domestic or family abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. “We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable… predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case,” says van der Kolk. When no one wants to hear about a person’s trauma, it finds a way to manifest in their body.

Thus, quite literally, your body keeps the score: the score of trauma, the score of abuse, the score of abandonment, and the score of victimization. This trauma results in both mental and physical issues throughout your body. Often, if you feel pain in one part of your body, that is your body signaling that it is holding on to something; what that something may be is up to you to figure out. 

This book will help you unpack years of trauma, go to the root cause, and begin to heal yourself.

You can purchase it here.

‘All About Love’ by Bell Hooks

I wrote substantially about this groundbreaking work on love and trauma here, however, there is so much more to say about Bell Hooks than I could ever fit into a short-form list-type article. As I was reading this book I quite seriously felt like I was reading a book that was written to me. As somebody who had yet to understand trauma, my childhood, my own abuse; and more importantly as somebody who would consistently deny that it has ever had an impact on my life, this book by Bell Hooks truly changed my entire life. 

If you are looking to understand that you are deserving of love; why your lifestyle patterns have been consistently pushing that love away; or how to simply understand your trauma, this is the book for you. ‘All About Love’ is groundbreaking and I truly believe that it will change your life. 

You can purchase it here.

‘My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies’ by Resmaa Menakem

Whether you are Black, white, Indigenous, any kind of minority, or even if you are not a minority at all; this book is for you. This book is written to understand how white body supremacy and racism impacts everybody; this includes all people and also police officers. 

As I began to read this book, as a staunch abolitionist I had a bit of an eye roll when the author continued to mention police officers. However, his points are incredibly important and poignant. You begin to understand how white body supremacy and racialized trauma impact every single person in America (and elsewhere). This book is an incredibly important read and will help you to begin to understand your own trauma and the trauma of others. 

The most exciting part of this book is that it includes body practice, there are parts of the book where you are meant to put it down, sit quietly, and meditate on a few different circumstances, and the questions that are asked of you to ponder. It’s almost as if a book is giving you therapy. I highly recommend it. 

You can purchase it here.

Though these are only three books to help you on your way to love and accepting and challenging trauma, I believe they will help you in ways that you have yet to experience. As we are all reflecting and transforming throughout these uncertain times, I believe it’s of the utmost importance that we challenge our own pervasive thoughts and our own trauma. 

Only once you have learned to accept and love yourself can you truly begin to serve others. 

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digital nomad | queer, Jewish, she/they | ☕️ | degrees in sociology and women’s studies

Bend, OR

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