Jacob Grimm, one of the two fraternal editors of the famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales, is perhaps equally famous for his study of linguistics. Grimm studied Proto-Indo European, the language that would eventually become Greek, Latin, Old Norse, Gaelic, Sardinian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, French, Russian, Sanskrit, English, and so many others.
He would go on to discover Grimm’s law: In “A History of the English Language,” the authors explain that when Proto-Indo European split between Germanic and the other languages, its p-sound, preserved in Latin and Greek (as in Latin pedes/French pieds, Latin pisces/French poissons) became an f (German fus/English foot, German fisch/English fish). This holds true also for other voiceless stops (p, t, k), which are translated into fricatives (f, th, h) so that tres becomes three and centum becomes hundred.
Young students often ask what good the study of history can possibly bring. But such exploration gives us a fascinating insight into the meaning of words, of cultural interpretation, and of language that we can take with us into our everyday interactions. They help us not only better understand the modern world around us, but also how we interpret and make sense of it.
What does this have to do with mental health? Our perception and interpretation of history has everything to do with trauma. Trauma recovery is about exploring and accepting the past, especially the least savory bits, to then reframe our understanding of the event in the context of our present.
Brookhaven Retreat handles trauma stemming from violence, loss, abuse, postpartum stress and abandonment every day. Trauma can easily lead to emotional dysfunction, mental illness and substance abuse. In order to recover, women discover the source of their pain, examine its impact in their lives, and rediscover their self-worth to create a strong and healthy emotional whole and ultimately put the painful past behind them.
We all have experiences of various degrees of trauma in our past. Brookhaven Retreat’s owner and founder Jacqueline says that “we all have ‘stuff’; the difference lies in what we do with it.” Every woman can benefit from better understanding and accepting her past, and using that new understanding of her thought and behavior patterns to improve her life.
Like language, our past is a rough model, a stepping-stone to our present that, with time, became refined into what we experience as life today. Through therapy, self-reflection, acceptance and mindfulness, we learn that we have absolute power over the direction of our lives. When we love and understand ourselves, we can steer our present into the life we desire.