This series is about exploring my perspective on the journey through abuse and trauma – the darkness, the pain, the healing and the hope. I speak not just as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Holistic/Integrative Psychotherapist, but as someone who has personally walked this path. I stand before you as a testament of the healing that can occur. It is my deepest desire to pass along that hope to others who are struggling to have their own healthy and fulfilling lives.
I will first be looking at the definitions of trauma and abuse and then how to move through that to find your light. For those of you who haven’t faced this, I hope that this series can help you to understand better what people who have been though it experience, and in so doing, help them in the way they need. The residual damage of abuse and violence does not simply disappear. At the end of each blog I have provided question to ponder – feel free to share your thoughts on this with me. Know that I will always honor your confidentiality and anything you may choose to share will be held sacred.
I want to start by clarifying what I believe trauma is and what constitutes a traumatic event.
“Psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions in which the individual’s ability to integrate their emotional experience is overwhelmed and or the individual experiences a threat to their life, integrity or sanity”.
Basically stated, trauma is an event or experience that overwhelms the nervous system (or as I like saying the Body, Mind and Spirit) and renders it incapacitated to re-regulate or un overwhelm itself.
Trauma is not so much the event that occurs, as much as how the individual’s nervous system is affected and responds. One of the roles of our nervous system is to protect us, by releasing the necessary chemicals in our brain that prepare us to go into Fight/Flight and remain alive, or go into Freeze and prepare to die, in hopes that the threat leaves before we do.
This function of going into a sympathetic response (activated physiological response to prepare to run or fight) is supposed to be temporary and successfully resolve the issue, so that the nervous system can return to its para-sympathetic response (calm and relaxed), to normalcy, or a sense of safety, no longer being threatened.
Many survivors of trauma get stuck in these responses, unable to fight, flight or freeze themselves back into safety. Instead they remain stuck with an incomplete trauma response, creating havoc in their live. These incomplete trauma responses then become the catalyst for self-medicating, engaging in self-injurious behaviors, anxieties, depression, and panic. Many survivors begin to respond to threats or perceived threats, triggered by memories or other abusive incidences with what becomes their habitual response.
Know that with therapeutic and healing interventions and healthy safe social interactions, the body, mind and spirit, your nervous system can regulate itself. It is never too late to reclaim your life.
What trauma, if any, is affecting you presently?
How is this experience affecting you?
Do you find yourself habitually responding to real or perceived traumas with a Fight, Flight or Freeze response?
Be well, Be Blessed