Messages from Trauma
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
Unprocessed trauma will keep you emotionally anchored to your inner wounds that need healing. Until these aspects are processed and integrated within you, they will reveal themselves in all kinds of ways. You may not always make the conscious connection, though.
Trauma can be experienced as a result of a variety of situations. It is NOT exclusive to war veterans and survivors of violence; although, it certainly can include them. Things like abandonment, emotional abuse, witnessing something horrific, being scapegoated as a child, repeated gaslighting, death, addiction within the family, among many other things, all have the potential to traumatize.
Artist - Micaela Lattanzio
When trauma occurs, an aspect of yourself is split off from the rest in a process called fragmentation. This fragment of you, then, creates beliefs and coping strategies as a way to endure the trauma. These beliefs and ways of coping operate on a subconscious level, yet affect the blueprint for how your life manifests. To put this in perspective, let’s consider an example:
When Tom was three years old, he woke up from his nap and began to curiously explore. He managed to open the front door to his house and walk outside. Across the busy street, he saw a vibrant, pink flamingo yard ornament which really caught his interest. Tom, being a toddler, was not concerned about the traffic, and so, he headed toward the flamingo. Fortunately, Tom made it across the street unharmed, but his enthusiasm would soon dwindle. While doing dishes, Tom’s mother happened to look out the window above the sink, only to see that Tom was not napping in his room. She ran outside in a frenzy to get him, and once they made it back inside their home, Tom’s mother repeatedly spanked and scolded him. She responded to Tom’s desperate sobbing with, “Wait until your father gets home!” As if the red handprints on his butt weren’t enough, when his father got home, Tom underwent another round of even more intense spankings and scolding. Incidents like this occurred frequently.
As an adult, Tom rarely thinks about his childhood or the implications of the type of punishment which he experienced. He believes that ruminating on the past is not worthwhile; nonetheless, Tom is at a point in his life where he notices a cyclical pattern that has and continues to play out. This pattern involves Tom taking actions to create financial freedom for himself and his family, only to find that shortly after things begin falling into place, he is met with adversity which requires him to regroup. It is as if he takes one step forward, and then two steps back...over and over. His whole life, he has felt like his goals are excitingly promising, yet disappointingly just out of reach.
Up until now, Tom had never associated his financial circumstances with his childhood; however, when we get to the emotional core, the connection is undeniable.
When asked, “What would financial freedom feel and look like to you?”, Tom responds, “It would feel like I get to choose what to do with my time. I would get to travel where I want to, when I want to. I would have more time to spend with my family. I would have access to the resources and time to begin/finish the projects I’ve envisioned. I would feel unrestricted, joyful, creative, and expansive.”
Tom reveals that there have been moments in his life where he did have those things, but they were short-lived as they were always interrupted by an unavoidable catastrophe which suggested to him that all progress was futile. (Think, Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”)
Let’s reconsider the earlier example of the incident when Tom was three. Erik Erikson, a prominent developmental psychologist known for his theory of psychosocial development, maintained that throughout one’s lifespan, an individual must successfully complete eight different stages of development in order for there to be a positive outcome relative to one’s ego strength. This implies that at age three, Tom was in the second stage - Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt. During this stage, a child is rapidly discovering their skills and abilities, which encourage their sense of independence and autonomy. It is important, then, for parents to allow their children to assert themselves within safe boundaries as well as offering reassurance. If children are harshly criticized and overly controlled, they will begin to feel inadequate and doubt in themselves.
During Tom’s childhood, he regularly encountered physical punishment and harsh criticism whenever he explored his autonomy and independence as illustrated in the earlier example. At three, a child often can not discern safe from dangerous or conceptualize appropriate boundaries. Although the debate on whether or not corporal punishment is an acceptable parenting method is not the aim of this article, it would be ignorant to deny the very real potential of trauma occurring as the result of repeated physical and verbal discipline, especially at developmentally inappropriate times.
As described earlier, fragmentation occurs when an aspect of Self splits off during trauma and develops beliefs as a way to cope. In the case of Tom, as he was experiencing trauma, an aspect(s) of himself separated from the rest, and developed beliefs that allowed what was occurring to make sense - beliefs as follows:
“Freedom gets me in trouble”
“Pleasure leads to danger”
“I am unworthy of enjoyment”
Surely, as Tom got older and matured, he was exposed to experiences that created an array of beliefs, many beneficial and others, detrimental, to his goals. He was certainly aware of his goal for financial freedom; however, he was unaware that he was emotionally anchored to his core beliefs, which were developed very early in life. His childhood and teenage years were filled with experiences that further validated his core beliefs, and this was happening on a subconscious level.
As stated earlier, subconscious beliefs and coping strategies affect the blueprint for how one’s life manifests. Often, we unknowingly attract to us and are drawn toward people, places, and things that trigger our unhealed wounds. When this happens, we have the opportunity to address, process, and integrate these traumatized fragments.
In the case of Tom, he has been unknowingly and simultaneously holding two opposing beliefs: "I want financial freedom” (consciously) and “Freedom = danger, trouble, etc.” (subconscious belief as the result of trauma). With so much momentum behind both beliefs, it’s no wonder that upon reaching the precipice of his goal, he would find himself launched back to square one. As multidimensional beings, it is not enough to have a desire; we operate on many planes, many (most) of which are beyond our perception.
The universe does not respond solely to what we want; it responds to what we are. When we have disintegrated fragments within ourselves, life plays out as a mirror to reflect back to us what we need to see in order to transcend the patterns which limit our growth. Many people, though, are in a hypnotic state of sorts, unawakened to who they truly are.
So, what does one do when they’re in a position like Tom? In other words, how does one begin the healing process so that they are not living under the influence of their traumas?
The only way out is through. One must move toward their pain. Toward their authentic self.
• Notice your triggers. Be aware of stimuli that cause you to feel intense or overwhelming emotions (e.g., sadness, fear, panic, anger, etc.). Take note.
• Reflect on patterns in your life. What are reoccurring themes in your life? Are there commonalities among the people whom you are attracted to? What situations seem to play out over and over for you?
• Accept your pain. Not to be confused with passive resignation. Refer to my blog (Self-Love: A Deeper Look into the Trend) for a process on how to compassionately sit with your pain and allow it to guide you.
Then, consider what is out there.
There are a variety of ways to address, process, and heal trauma; there is no "one size fits all" technique. In my experience, as a practitioner and/or client, I have found the following to be effective in my ongoing journey of integration and healing:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
QHHT (Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique)
Plant Medicines (Ayahuasca, Kambo/Sapo, Rapé, Psilocybin mushrooms)
Over the next few months, I will use my expertise, along with my personal experiences, to write more on each of these practices to provide more information, as well as applicable exercises and recommendations, for those interested in embarking on the healing path.