"Trauma is a wordless story our body tells itself about what is safe and what is a threat."
- Resmaa Menakem
Overwhelm Shapes our Instincts
No trauma is the same, yet the concept is universal.
Trauma is a deeply distressing experience. It might be a threat to our lives (or someone else’s) or a threat to what’s important to us: our beliefs, sense of self, or what we depend on. Often, it’s a collection of these experiences that compound over time.
The strategies we adopt (knowingly or unknowingly) to prevent a similar experience from happening again is how trauma affects us long-term. The distress during trauma leaves an imprint on our mind and body, influencing our instincts long after the trauma has ended. Trauma shifts how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us.
It is mind and body overwhelm in its purest form, and we naturally adapt in hopes of resolving it or preventing it from occurring again.
Some people cope with abandonment by becoming people-pleasers. Perhaps you say “yes” when you want to say “no” to win the approval of others and keep them around. You may be overly accommodating to avoid rejection or being exposed as the bad person you believe yourself to be.
Or it might be uncomfortable having desires and feelings of your own, separate from others. Deep down, you believe you have to hide parts of yourself to be loved.
If someone has weaponized their anger against you, your own anger can feel threatening and inappropriate. Instead of getting mad, you find yourself feeling guilty in upsetting situations. You may feel unsure of yourself or perform self-defeating kindness to compensate. When anger is needed to advocate for yourself, you feel conflicted, respond with ambivalence, or retreat.
Perhaps you struggle with intimacy and trust, navigating relationships without getting too close or vulnerable. You’re naturally cynical about people’s intensions, it doesn’t take much to get irritated or withdraw, and you’re always on guard.You may know other people really well, but do people really know you? You keep people at a distance to ensure that no one can take advantage of you.”
No matter trauma’s effects, beneath the surface, a part of you yearns for deeper connection, less loneliness, and a larger life.
Untreated Trauma can Look Like Personality.
"Sometimes The only way out is through."
How Do We Recover?
When we’re in distress, our ability to reason and process are stifled. Recovery from trauma includes carefully processing and making meaning of what happened.
Therapy can help you manage and repurpose distressing feelings associated with the trauma.
The therapeutic relationship offers a contained testing ground to renegotiate relationships and your self-esteem. It’s a space where you can reorganize the thoughts and emotions that remain long after the trauma has ended.