That feeling of being stuck and unable to move forward – the ups and downs of healing from trauma after abuse!
From MY Book: From Charm to Harm and Everything else in Between with a Narcissist.
Because many of us have never truly experienced or understand the extreme trauma associated with this abuse we imagine that healing from the psychological and emotional abuse and the associated effects of the trauma is like healing from a physical wound. With a physical would, every day that passes the wound gets a little better and hurts less until it heals and then finally disappears. Usually it may need medical attention or require some stitches, a topical antiseptic, bandages and some extra care so it can heal correctly, but for the most part the body naturally knows what to do to heal itself. When you are healing from trauma, or an injury to the mind it is like slowly reemerging from a catastrophic event where you have taken cover from something that is so unfamiliar or something that you have never experienced. The mind does not know how to heal itself with the trauma. You temporarily find a small safe place that is limiting and where change or moving forward seems impossible. With trauma you are basically hiding out to protect yourself without a real direction. It becomes limiting to you because you know you have to somehow move forward but you don’t have the real knowledge to heal the wound from the traumatizing event. The mind is very resilient but with trauma it becomes overloaded.
With trauma there are definite physical changes in both the brain functions and normal hormonal activity that correspond to being in a trauma based reaction. The human nervous system is in a highly agitated state with trauma or continually remaining in the ‘fight or flight’ state. All of this basically leaves the body and mind in a state of restlessness, powerful anxiety and depression, and racing and incoherent thought processes. Several key parts of the brain shut down, including the section responsible for perceiving the passage of time, and the part that allows for self-reflection. The physical aspects of trauma has a direct effect on adrenaline functions and causes rapid heartbeat, erratic or shallow breathing patterns, and increased blood flow to major muscle groups. Trauma can also cause you to isolate yourself from the world – in essence to feel safe or having to protect yourself. So with trauma there are both physical and mental aspects involved that require specialized help. It is a physical state as well!
Even though you are in a self-protecting mode you will eventually have to move out and back into the real or functioning world. Unfortunately without proper perspective the trauma seeds itself into your world and will remain there until properly treated. In other words the trauma doesn’t heal itself naturally like a wound to your body would. This can happen in the form of lingering trauma triggers as a direct response to the original trauma that sends you right back into looking for a place to escape or running for cover. It could be defined as a setback, but it is not as simple as that. These trauma triggers can stay with you your entire life if not dealt with – for example not trusting life in general. Taking cover as a response from these trauma triggers will limit you in many areas of your life and real change will seem impossible to you in time. Staying in this state of trauma will also harm you physically with the constant anxiety and depression that correspond to it. You will feel the need for ‘fight or flight’ or running for cover and isolation. Basically escaping the trauma triggers.
Trauma makes you feel like you are trapped in the moment where change doesn’t seem to be a possibility and more than likely blaming yourself becomes a prevalent thought process as well. It is an overwhelming and confounding state to be in. One of the most important aspects AFTER being abused is understanding that this trauma plays a major factor that limits your recovery that can last for many years. Because the situation violated you in such an unnatural way, your thought processes only allow you to avoid a common factor or what the reason was that caused these intense feelings of fear that never existed before. Sometimes we confuse this with having something terribly WRONG with us instead of being a direct result of the psychological and emotion abuse from a Narcissist. Within this thought we inadvertently allow the abuse to conquer us and affect our lives forever. Recovery from the trauma involves many steps to familiarize ourselves with the real reason we got to this point and purging out the abuse and educating ourselves by understanding that the abuse so totally confused are normal functioning mind that we are left frozen in this state. We are searching for those answers to release from this horrific, fearful, and high anxiety state and we question and question until we do and about face and reengage our thoughts around our abuser. Basically we connect to the abuse trying to get to an understanding of its effects on us by trying to understand the Narcissist, reengage them, or look for closure. As long as we stay engaged with these thoughts we remain forever in a state of ambient abuse and never disconnect from it completely.
We can recover from the trauma but it is important that it happens early on so that we don’t allow the trauma to seed itself in us and surface later throughout our life. Education is where we start this journey and support is where we get the help from others to guide us to recovery. You can desensitize the trauma effects and repurpose yourself back into life. Fear is at the basis of what you are feeling. Fear of other human beings, fear that you can no longer trust people or better yet trust life. The abuse was situational and from a personality disordered Narcissist. There is goodness out there and you once knew this goodness and you can know it again. Human beings are resilient and the mind can heal from the trauma. If you are feeling stuck, please reach out to find the support and help you need – you DESERVE to have your life returned to you and you deserve HAPPINESS once again. Don’t allow yourself to pay a debt back to the Narcissist that did this to you for the remainder of your life. Greg