I was sexually assaulted by my father for two years starting at age 13 & thought I’d dealt with it rather well, until a fateful day when a stranger, a teacher of 5 hours, told me, aged 40, that I’d been sexually assaulted as a child and needed help! F**k!
I saw my doctor, had a mental health assessment, got a diagnosis of depression, a script and an appointment with a psychologist for two hours time! SHOCK! I completed my round of therapy, made some massive breakthroughs, wrote a book, got my first life coaching qualification and thought I was cured.
When it became apparent that I wasn’t, I decided to get a counselling degree which led to an even deeper level of understanding, more therapy with a trauma counsellor, and again the idea that I was fixed emerged! Good to go!
Then I realised my biggest trauma was actually the family I was born into with two parents who were incapable of taking care of their own emotional needs let alone their children’s. No wonder I always felt alone and had trouble in relationships from friendships to romantic ones! No wonder I didn’t know what emotions I was feeling or how to express them. No wonder I had no boundaries and a constant fear of abandonment. You guessed it, round three, back to life coaching where I began to understand the need for:
- Inner child work – allowing all of the emotions that I felt as a child to be expressed and assuring my inner child that I would never abandon her.
- Learning to familiarise myself with my emotions, my needs and wants. (As a child, I was conditioned to ignore them in order to survive.)
- Establishing boundaries instead of trying to win love/friendship by people pleasing at the expense of my own needs.
- Learning the skills needed to be in close, intimate relationships with my children, friends & partner.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, learning how to turn off the fight/flight response that I lived in, as do most children who went through trauma as a child. (Childhood trauma physically affects the development of our brain and nervous system, which is why we can’t “…just move on & forget the past”.)
- Letting go of addictions – busyness, comfort eating, drinking, drugs, gaming & sex to name a few of the common ones! (I also learnt not to beat myself up over addictions. They were strategies to cope, to numb the pain when I didn’t know what else to do, when I was in survival mode, when I was a kid! They may just have kept me alive!)
- Understanding that trauma is created with others and therefore needs to be HEALED with others. It is NOT something you can do alone! (Trust me, I tried for years!)
- Accepting that healing is a daily practice, a lifestyle choice. Just as we don’t expect the effects of what we did in the gym last year to last forever, the same is true of healing. I keep peeling the onion, going a little deeper – slowly so it doesn’t become too much!
- Understanding that my battles with money, savings and strangely setting up a business, all have a direct correlation with those first childhood attachments.
Variations of the above are common in all of the clients I work with as are regressions when we face challenges such as accepting a promotion, starting a new career, a family, a business or field of study. Every time we face a significant challenge and feel that same old emotion, the nervous system is activated, making change very hard, especially if your therapy focuses purely on the head & thinking differently. (When in fight or flight mode, the nervous system sends messages from the body to the brain. This turns off the rational parts of the brain, leaving only the fight of flight area of the brain in operation and the RAS, which searches for evidence of danger, real or perceived. The middle ear ‘muscle’ closes too so you literally can’t hear properly.) This is why you behave like a child when you feel threatened! You regress to the age you were when you experienced the trauma that caused that particular feeling.
The empty next and divorce also hit hard if abandonment was an issue in childhood, perhaps why we have the ‘mid life crisis’. Suddenly you’re single, living alone, perhaps for the first time, with time to think. The new trauma leads to overwhelm and the past finally rears its head as all of the unresolved emotions from your earlier trauma/s are triggered once again. (Neural pathways can atrophy but they never go completely.)
If much of the above sounds familiar, perhaps it’s time to invest in you, your mental health and your happiness in order to:
- Have better relationships – with yourself, your children, your partner, friends, family & money.
- Be more in tune with yourself – What do you feel, want and need? Like the oxygen mask, you need to help yourself in order to help others more fully. (Taking time out for you may just save your marriage or your relationship with a wayward child before they go off the rails!)
- Help your children recognise and express their needs, wants and emotions – skills that are vital for healthy relationships, handling conflict, stress, bullying, the rollercoaster of puberty, peer group pressure…
- Decrease stress, blood pressure & your reliance on unhealthy addictions so you can sleep better & decrease the likelihood of chronic mental & physical health issues down the track.
- Begin living a life of intention/purpose which neuroscience is now showing, also correlates to our overall health & longevity!
Let’s arrange a time to have a free chat and see if we click. If we don’t, I can refer you on but either way invest in you and yours!
Phone: (+61) 0450 001 486