Childhood Abuse and Trauma

“ One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them ” 

 Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

To lose something is to feel grief, panic, sadness and anger. This may be short lived but all these feelings are inevitable as our mind grapples to bring into awareness the impact of the loss. To feel a loss that cannot be explained, comprehended or understood is completely painful and baffling. This type of long causes untold anguish and pushes the brain back to the very basics of survival instincts as the body comes under pressure to cope with often overwhelming feelings. Our body is designed to survive; our brain is designed to keep us alive. So brain and body work together at high speed when threat is felt. We automatically dive into a fight, flight freeze like state in order to cope and adjust to the overriding feelings of what feels like a threat on our life. Long after the event or threat has passed the body holds on to the memory of the threat and pounces into this survival state when any further hint of threat is felt.

“ Faith is why I’m here today and faith is why I made it through ” 

Jonathan Anthony Burkett, Neglected But Undefeated
The Life Of A Boy Who Never Knew A Mother’s Love

For an adult who has experienced childhood abuse and trauma shock continues to live in the body. They often wonder why they continue to get stuck, why they continue to get themselves in difficult or upsetting situations why after all these years have passed they are still triggered by situations or events that feel threatening. Our body remembers long after our mind has moved into other events. Our body senses threat danger, overwhelm. Our body continues to prepare for danger. This can leave someone exhausted confused, upset and frustrated as they struggle to cope with living and fighting memories. It’s like being in a constant battle with body and mind. Wanting to be one thing but feeling feelings that are frightening and confusing which stop someone literally in their tracks.

Trauma often causes people to jump into critic mode; I should be over this what is wrong with me. As they move through the present life they forget that it was a little person who experienced the trauma. A little person who had not yet developed the voice to say no, a little person who could not fight back. A little person who was meant to trust adults and be polite. While your adult self now knows right from wrong and has grown in the capacity to sense danger and act in a more assertive manner that little self had no one to fight his or her corner. That little person was left exposed and vulnerable trying to make sense of something that felt completely wrong. So secrets have to be kept and where secrets live shame grows. With this comes a legacy of hurt, anger, deep shame and huge loss.

So slow down for a moment and ask yourself what that little child would have needed back then. A hug, reassurance, to be believed, to be understood to be listend to with empathy and unconditional support. So it takes patience and time to slow way down in our busy world, it takes huge commitment and kindness to slow down for someone that can only be felt at times of stress and pain. It takes huge courage to make contact with a little voice that had to be ignored in order to survive. It takes huge self-love to make the space for that long orphaned aspect of ourselves which now needs care and compassion.

Nobody can change a trauma or turn back the clocks, there is however a way to be with an experience which is healing, supportive, kind and patient. That little person now needs to be heard and held in a way that maybe has never been experienced before. This journey can be slow, energy draining and upsetting. Imagine however that part of you having a voice, knowing that it is listened to, knowing it is believed and understood and knowing it can be healed. It can live a life that is free of the critic, blame, self loathing and pain. There is no magic formula for tuning into that little voice, it becomes a journey with stops, pauses and sometimes a confusing pathway. It has a destination however of hope, contentment and love all gifts in the adult world.

Thank you for listening

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counsellingwest@gmail.com.

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