ACEs high

Don’t look back in anger. Or so goes the Oasis song. And they’ve got a point. For the sake of our our mental health it’s probably not a good idea to dwell on the past.  Maybe more of us should open those cupboards and let the skeletons loose. Maybe we ought to find ways to forgive those who have trespassed against us, rattled our cages or pressed our buttons out of sheer badness.

Easier said tho’, eh? Forgiving and forgetting requires a level of emotional maturity which is, occasionally, in short supply in this old lady’s life. But unlike the younger, more firework display versions of myself, at least these days I have a degree of understanding of what made me this way.

In case you’re concerned that this is all going to be sob story stuff or become a bit woo woo, fear not. You might also wonder what the hell this has got to do with running a business? Well folks, the way I see it is that unless you get this stuff sorted it can cause long term mayhem in every single part of your life, including work. Ongoing self-understanding, even if it hurts like hell, strikes me as an absolute essential if you hope to achieve any measure of wellbeing and/or success. Shame it can take such a long time to see the ghosts clearly, let alone lay them to rest.

My own ghosts have taken a more solid shape in recent times, and it’s all because of my clients. Not sure I would ever have heard of ACEs if it hadn’t been for some of the specialist work that I do. Sadly, ACEs is not some high rolling, thumbs up expression – this sorry little acronym stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. ACEs are not restricted to violence or abuse against weans (as if those weren’t bad enough), neglect and abandonment are on the list too, and the long term fallout from ACEs can ruin and stunt lives. I’d say ACEs are endemic in Scotland, and closer to your own front door than you might think. BTW, in case you’re tempted to write this stuff off as bleeding heart liberalism, you might need to prise off your very own blinkers.

My own ACEs are small beer compared to some, but they’ve had a profound and lasting effect into adulthood. And not in a good way. Still, I’m alive and kicking, not an addict, in prison or experiencing severe mental health problems, so everything’s tickety boo, right? Not quite. See, I thought I’d done my bit to bury those bloody ghosts, but funny how things have a habit of resurfacing. Experiencing an ACEs lightbulb moment in the course of work with a client brought the spectres roaring back in full 3D. Anger and agony anew.

It’s not been fun, not by any stretch, and the shockwaves continue, but at least now I’ve got an entirely new level of insight. I can’t say that I’m always acing my life, and maybe this emotional introspection is all just self-indulgent, narcissistic bollocks. But learning about ACEs has opened my eyes wide. It’s given me new tools, new ways of thinking and above all, a massive respect for everyone supporting ACE people to be dealt a new deck of cards.