Your pain will be the breaking of your shell that encloses your understanding.
– Kahlil Gibran
The goal of this post is to encourage the healing of your traumatized child. Carl Jung said: ” In each and every adult there lurks a kid – an eternal child, an issue that is definitely becoming, is never completed and requires unceasing care, attention and education. That is the part of the human personality which would like to develop and be whole.” Healing from trauma is really a complex and courageous journey back to the eternal child…going back to the inherent longing for wholeness.
Trauma is really a penetrating wound and injury, which threatens one’s life. Trauma arrests the path of normal development by its repetitive intrusion of terror and helplessness in the survivor’s life. Chronic child abuse brings about fragmentation in the overall personality. Under these conditions identity formation is stymied and a reliable sensation of independence within connection is ruptured.
Judith Herman, M.D., wrote in their groundbreaking book “Trauma & Recovery”, “repeated trauma in adult life erodes the dwelling of the personality already formed, but repeated trauma in childhood forms and deforms the personality.” The little one held in abusive circumstances must try to preserve a feeling of hope, trust, safety, and meaning under terrifying conditions, which contradict those basic needs. To survive, the traumatized child must use dissociation. The abusers, who the little one is unconditionally dependent on, should be preserved within the child’s psyche as caring and competent, in an attempt to ensure survival. The key attachment should be preserved at any cost. Consequently your child may deny, wall off, excuse or minimize the abuse. Complete amnesias referred to as dissociative states may occur. Dissociation is really so severe that a fragmentation in the personality could lead to the emergence of alter personalities.
The pinnacle of tragedy is that the child must conclude that it is her inherent ‘badness’ that accounts for the abuse. Paradoxically this tragic conclusion gives the abused child hope that’s/he could change his/her circumstances by becoming ‘good’. Yet despite the child’s relentless and futile efforts to be ‘good’, deep within she feels nobody really knows how vile her true self is, and in case they made it happen would likely ensure exile and ostracism. For kids who definitely are sexually abused this thought of self as damaged goods is extremely profound. The sexual violation and exploitation with the abuser becomes internalized as further proof her innate badness.
Just as much as your child struggles to deny, minimize, bargain with and co-exist using the abuse, the impact of chronic trauma seeps to the deep recesses in the psyche and within your body. Psychologist and author Alice Miller states, “our childhoods are held in our systems.” Precisely what the conscious mind refuses to ‘know,’ the psychological and physical symptoms express. Your body talks about the abuse through chronic hyper-arousal and also through difficulties sleeping, feeding, and overall disruptions with biological functions. States of dysphoria (confusion, agitation, emptiness and utter aloneness) further amplify the disregulation of the body.
Long after the danger is past, traumatized people relive the events just like it were continually recurring in the present. Traumatic events are re-experienced with an intrusive-repetitive fashion. Themes are re-enacted, nightmares and flashbacks occur, and you will discover a persistent state of danger and distress.
States of denial and numbing alternate together with the intrusive flooding of memories. The stimuli of the trauma are avoided through denial and numbing The survivor experiences restricted affect, no recall, diminished interests, along with an overall sense of detachment.
As survivors try to negotiate adult relationships, the psychological defenses formed in childhood become increasingly maladaptive. The survivor’s intimate relationships are driven from a desperate longing for protection and love, and simultaneously fueled by fears of abandonment and exploitation. Using this place, safe and appropriate boundaries can not be established. Consequently patterns of intense, unstable relationships occur, where dramas of rescue, injustice, and betrayal are repeatedly enacted. Hence, the survivor reaches further risk of repeated victimization in adult life.
Recovery from chronic trauma and abuse cannot appear in isolation. The childhood trauma takes a reparative, healing experience of a therapist that will bear witness to some history fraught with inhumanity, while offering empathy, insight, and containment. Through this relationship healing can take place. Control may be restored, plus a renewed sensation of personal power and link to others. For progression in recovery to take place the capacity for self-care and soothing must be established. The capability to develop a modicum of predictability and self-protection can also be necessary. Developing these life skills may entail the incorporation of medication management, relaxation techniques, bodywork, creative outlets, and establishing a replenishing home environment and a responsibility towards basic health needs.
Traumatic losses also need a bereavement process. The survivor must fully face what was done, and what the traumas led the survivor to accomplish under extreme circumstances. The survivor is challenged to mourn the loss of one’s integrity, losing trust, the ability to love, along with the belief in the ‘good enough parent’. The survivor presently has the ego strength to handle the profound level of despair that would have shattered her in childhood. With the mourning process, the survivor starts to reevaluate her identity like a ‘bad’ person, as well as in so doing begins to feel worthy of relationships which allow for authenticity and nourishment. Eventually the survivor experiences the traumatic experience as part of earlier times, and is ready to rebuild her life from the present. The near future now offers possibility and hope.
“Having the capacity to state that the first is a survivor is an accomplishment. For most, the energy is incorporated in the name itself. Nevertheless comes an occasion from the individuation process as soon as the threat or trauma is significantly past. Then will be the time to see the subsequent stage after survivorship, to healing and thriving.” At this stage the trauma survivor is ready to move beyond survival to express freed up potentials. Engaging more actively in the world necessitates the survivor to recognize and pursue ambitions and goals that had been previously dormant. She actually is now capable of connect beyond the wounded self/ego and take part in life from a host to Divine creativity. She is able to love beyond the personality and extend herself through empathy and service. Instead of battle with childhod loneliness, fear, powerlessness and myriad sorts of suffering, she actually is accessible to and open to all that life contains. She actually is conscious that the teachings towards growth are lots of.
A lot of the reparative work at this time of recovery involves challenging nihilistic and fatalistic assumptions concerning the self and the world. The trauma survivor set on thriving, is challenged to provide life to a perspective, a philosophy that is the opposite of her internalized beliefs, as well as to reconstruct possible which makes room for the presence of faith and hope. For this to happen the ego must attach to the abstract for any deeper transcendent meaning. Creativity, emotionally healthy spirituality, philosophy, mythology, ethics, service, personal integrity, etc. are common part of that exploration. This exploration lends itself towards the survivor discovering a spiritual perspective that may be sustaining and affords link to others.
Integral to the spiritual perspective may be the journey towards healing and actualization. This journey is taking over a deeply complex metaphysical meaning, plus it informs one’s feeling of pride and purpose. This is a journey towards wholeness, the location where the Divine Child archetype is encountered. Embodied within this archetype may be the totality of our being along with the transformational power that propels us across the path of personal growth. It really is here that a person discovers one’s true Self.