When we think of trauma we often think of what happened, sexual abuse, war, bullying, domestic violence, neglect etc. We think of periods of time or single events that caused distress and made a lasting impact on us.
Here at The Centre for Healing we define the trauma as what happens inside of a person as a result of what happened to them, or, what didn't happen, the imprint left within their psyche and nervous system from these kinds of experience is the trauma.
What many of us don't realise is that trauma is not always about what happened, quite often the imprint that is left within us is about what didn't happen.
When our experience lacks a certain quality, or a need goes unmet this also can leave a very damaging and lasting imprint that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Developmental trauma can certainly and quite often show up as overt abuse and neglect, and as very obvious events that happen throughout one's childhood that cause arrests in development, but the other...
I was in the water with Tommy this morning and I felt myself wanting to disconnect from him, ignore what he was saying and be angry and reactive.
I try my best to be a trauma-informed, gentle parent, but honestly sometimes I yell (and I hate it and beat myself up after because I really should know better). And you look into their sweet innocent face and their body flinches with fear, it's the freakin worst.
At that moment, I decided that I wasn't going to go down that path, so I stopped for a moment, looked at him and said "I can't talk right now sweety, mummy is angry so I just need to do some breathing, can you wait a few minutes?"
He looked understanding, so standing there in the water with him, I started to go right into the anger, breathed into it, turned it up, and followed the sensation around my body.
As that layer started to melt, I went down deeper into my body and mind, and a deep pain of frustration and constriction came through... I asked my body and mind... "what is...
Anger is quite often quoted to me as the most difficult emotion for people to experience.
When we are children the energy and expression of anger is more often than not met with disdain, even forms of healthy aggression we can be conditioned to shut down and move into states of collapse, fawn or freeze instead.
When we express aggression and are met with some form of shaming by a larger more powerful being whom our survival relies on, part of our survival strategy is to then orphan our anger. We dissociate from this part of ourselves in order to maintain some kind of healthy relational attachment.
We may learn by their response that when anger is present love is withdrawn. Our relationship to anger then becomes one of resistance and our anger itself becomes associated with threat.
This can create layers of internal struggle along with unconscious self hatred and shame for having these emotions, which are actually in truth a very natural and healthy part of development.