PTSD Spirituality: From Broken Branch to Oak Tree

oaktreeAs survivors and healers we continue to grow in our journey to health and personal authenticity.  We are analogous to oak trees that have survived the traumatic whirlwinds and hurricanes of would-be loggers who only want to turn us into lumber. We can provide the shade to help keep the vulnerable and broken from being burned.

Our growth, indeed the brute fact of our continued survival can enable others to hope and grow, when before they were mired in despair. Your continued journey allows others to make their own hard journeys a bit more possible, feasible, believable.

We survive and struggle to grow.  Over time, our roots sink deeper into our own mystical grounding; that is, we begin to realize who and what we are; we begin to realize we have intrinsic value, spiritual value.

As we heal, our branches continue to reach higher to the light and warmth of our Sun.

Often, we are surprised, astonished perhaps, that others will seek the shelter of our own branches.  We may discover, however unexpectedly, we have become mentors, elders, shamans, both disciple and teacher, and wounded healers.

Do we still hurt, do we still have pain? Of course we do. Being a shaman, a wounded healer, an elder, an examplar, does not make the pain go away. It makes it bearable. It allows us to look someone else who has suffered in the eye and honestly say, “I care. I sort of get it. You have value.”

As we become more alive, aware, and authentic, others will look to us.  Unfortunately, some will look in anger, especially the would-be loggers who are angry they could not send us again through the buzz saws of their lumber mills.  We sometimes know these people as dickweeds and vampires.

But, others who have been themselves wounded will seek our shade, our stability, and at the core, the example that we can choose life over death, we can choose to heal alongside others rather than harm others. Fundamentally, we have discovered that we can choose Love over Hatred, Hope over Bitterness.

We remain grateful for those previous oak trees, people who had sheltered us in our own journey of healing and awareness.  They themselves may be astonished that their own traumatic journey provided us the hope and the space to find we ourselves have value. Their refusal to become bitter and hateful exemplified for us that a traumatically changed life can become a new life that has even more light in it than before.

And, many times, like our own mentors and exemplars, we remain astonished that others might seek out our shade from time to time.

Over our years of journey, exploration, and self-discovery, we realize that we help one another to heal. Each of us helps to carry the other. It’s not competition, it’s compassionate cooperation.

This is my rather long-winded way of saying: Your continued exploration of healing will help others heal and become oak trees themselves.  We pass along to one another the gifts of authenticity, self-worth, and healing. These are gifts you give just by being you and choosing life over death, hope over despair, compassion over competition.  Thank you for that.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z


  1. This is a beautiful analogy and very meaningful for me. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Thank you, Dr. Z, for providing this blog, for being an Oak.

  3. Dr. Z, this essay underscores the help that social media can be in fighting PTSD. Several times on one of the PTSD Facebook pages, I’ve had the opportunity to validate some other person’s experiences. I try to also offer books, therapy or prescription with which I’ve had success. I have also tried to be forthcoming how I am using ECT for depression, but also promising research that it vastly reduces the mortality rate of PTSD. I’m thankful — after 5 years since diagnosis — I can now hopefully alleviate someone else’s anxiety due to my experience. It also brings the added benefit of increasing our self-worth. Thought-provoking essay, as usual, Dr. Z. 🙂

    • Hi Harry,
      Even though folks like you and I often feel like broken branches ourselves, we discover there is something we can offer others … sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Yet we all pull together and discover the reality of hope. All of our broken branches together … to wax mythopoetic … helps to build the World Tree. And, in that Tree is Life.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  4. Thank you.

Leave a Reply