Wednesday’s therapy was different to any other. For the first time, I didn’t mention my parents or the trauma associated with them. This wasn’t intentional, but something about therapy has shifted.
When I started therapy, I had this preconceived idea of what I needed to do to heal and “let go” of past trauma. I was prepared to trawl through each traumatic memory to find that ultimate closure.
There have been times when I’ve asked why it seems impossible to let go of past trauma. I tried so hard to overcome the darkness by conquering materialistic achievements, but every so often, the trauma would jump out from nowhere and consume the person I had worked so hard to become. Past trauma always seemed to return to the here and now.
I am not knocking mindfulness practices because a large proportion of therapy is about the present moment and applying the self-discipline necessary to exert changes. However, when we supress trauma, even in a positive way, those emotions can fester, often on an unconscious level. Eventually the rot begins to infect all the other things we introduce to life. Striking a balance between processing past trauma and practising mindfulness is my idea of effective therapy.
It got me thinking about how we process trauma in the brain. Experience tells me it’s entirely different from every day memories and even some of the most hurtful experiences in our lives. We can work hard, practice mindfulness, and make everything as comfortable as possible, but unless we “heal” from that trauma, it has the potential to periodically cause a reaction within our brain.
I always write hands-on experiences of mental health rather than anything based on research. If you would like to read about how trauma is processed in the brain, you might find the two posts by fellow-blogger, Heather, helpful. Here is the link to the first post.
How do we heal from our past trauma? I imagine everyone is different and maybe a lot depends on the stage you are at in life, the trauma you suffered, the severity, and maybe even the duration. My own experience is that trauma seems to have consumed the memories of all the other good things that happened in childhood and it can feel impossible to see past it.
When I was at the heart of avoidance and did not dare to look at the source of the trauma, I envisaged a hellhole of a childhood, with little positive. That is slowly starting to change. I find that I don’t necessarily need to talk about each and every one of those traumatic experiences, but there is something powerfully healing from observing the actual feelings. While this is horrendously difficult to do, in my experience, it does start to set us free from the trauma.
Things are slowly changing, more than likely something is occurring in the brain and my emotional development. I am beginning to view things slightly differently. Somehow, the people of the past or their dastardly deeds are no longer pivotal to my healing. My recovery is becoming more about me rather than the things people did to me. Now, that is a shift in perspective.