Often when we think of trauma, we think of it as a condition resulting from physical violence, i.e. war, muggings, shootings, rapes, car accidents, etc. These experiences can clearly cause devastating after effects. The sooner one gets help, the better. A single, traumatic experience versus repeated incidents over a longer period of time will require different treatments.
But we often don't recognize trauma resulting from emotional neglect or abuse from our past. It is harder for us to see, especially when it involves the people in our lives that we relied on for love and/or protection. Often we deny that it even happened. And of course, the family may collude in this denial.
We also may hold shame around it. We think and believe that we are responsible somehow for causing it. That it was something we did or didn't do.
Our denial or dissociation is part of how we coped (and continue to cope) with feelings of overwhelm, fear, hurt, pain, humiliation, shame, etc. These feelings don't go away, they just get hidden, out of sight, below the surface.
They then leak out (or sometimes leap out) at in-opportune times, when we least expect or want them. Of coarse we never want them…that is the problem. These feelings are the unwanted aspects of ourselves that we constantly reject, dislike and disown. These suppressed impulses and emotions may cause destructive side effects in our lives.
When we've been hurt, we find it difficult to create relationships even though, on a cognitive level, it has a very high priority in our life. It is something we want, sometimes desperately, but our bodies are saying no. Ultimately this can affect our happiness, intimacy, creativity and all around success in our lives.
THOUGHTS TO EXPLORE
Recognize that many of the issues you are struggling with today are the result of past traumas in your life.
Recognize that your resistance to embracing these traumas is simply a part of your intuitive, emotional survival system.
Recognize that the shame you feel will dissolve when you realize that you were doing the best you could in a difficult situation.
The spot you are in now is only a result of your body's natural response system to threat.
With proper help, you can reframe these traumatic experiences and shake off any shame that you may have gathered along the way.
Recognize that what your body has done by way of protecting you from harm is not bad.
It's an adaptive instinctual mechanism to protect against hurt and harm.
With proper help you can reframe your instinctive response to see yourself as the hero that you are versus the victim that you may be stuck in.
For further information on reframing trauma, I recommend Stephen Porges, PhD , author of The Polyvagal Theory.