“There are people who have gone through worse than I have.”
“I just got on with it.”
“No use worrying about it.”
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“They did the best they could.”
Have you said these words? I know I’ve used some of them in the past!
Most people think of trauma as a catastrophic event such as cyclones, tidal waves, earthquakes, murders, suicide, terrible traffic accidents, wars and the like.
They don’t consider surviving their family, living with avoidant parents, violent family life (unless someone is being physically abused), death of a parent, addictions of parents or depression in parents as traumatic. This is not about blaming parents…I am one….I am a grandmother…and I get it. I am the product of a violent home and didn’t realise until my late 40’s that I had unresolved trauma.
Then what about our school or religious experiences!!!! How many people do you know that still have issues around learning and don’t consider themselves intelligent? Speaking as a former Catholic, how many years does it take to free oneself from feelings of ingrained guilt and poor relationship to your body from religious teachings?
I see it and hear it all the time….minimising of our experience. An example of what that means is:
A child may have suffered the loss of a father at a young age, their mother is unavailable to them because of her own deep and unexpressed grief. The child then has not only lost the father, they have also lost the mother and has no idea their experience is traumatic and unresolved. It becomes normalised. They adjust to survive their circumstances.
An example of how quickly little ones can start to feel destabilised is shown in the Still face experiment. It is difficult to watch and it really gets across how important it is to child development to have sound attachment and engagement to the mother or significant carer.
How might this unresolved trauma look in adult life?
It might show up in your relationships as:
- an inability to trust a man will stay;
- inability to stay in a relationship;
- unavailable to your own children;
- feeling disconnected from yourself and others;
- not feeling like you really belong anywhere;
- lack of purpose and meaning in your life; or
- all of the above plus more!
What do I mean by unavailable?
It doesn’t mean that your aren’t there doing things for the children. It means that you are unable to truly connect with them. It’s like a part of you is not available to anyone including yourself. It died at the same time as the trauma.
Great, so the dead-ness inside has been highlighted, now what?
The good news is that you can heal and recover from these unresolved traumatic experiences. Peter Levine says it so beautifully, “Trauma is a fact of life, it does not, however, have to be a life sentence.”
If you or someone you know fits these descriptions please share this article with them. Help them to know there is hope.
In part 2, I will discuss how unresolved trauma might manifest physically. If you would like to explore the possibility of your own unresolved trauma you can apply for a FREE 30 minute Insight Session with me.