Trauma is one of the most misunderstood conditions of human experience.
I’ve had many clients who say something along the line of “my childhood was pretty normal” and to them, it probably was.
But what exactly does normal mean?
Normal might mean often hearing your parents arguing, or taking care of the emotional needs of a parent before you’ve even taken your GCSE’s.
Normal could look like never being praised or often being criticised for not being good enough.
Normal doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.
We can carry all kinds of traumatic experiences that impact us and our relationships as we move into adulthood.
That’s just our own trauma, never mind the traumas of our parents’ own unresolved trauma (and their parents and the generations before them).
Trauma that has not been spoken about or dealt with in a healthy way, impacts both parenting and relationships.
When not addressed, it can be an endless family cycle where toxic behaviours are repeated.
Generally, people don’t really recognise the everyday signs of the impacts of trauma.
It’s often thought of as a significant event like being the victim of an attack or going to war.
Often it is not always the incident itself, but how the incident is handled after the fact. Many families lack the communication skills and self awareness to talk through traumatic experiences.
There can be an underlying belief that if you avoid talking about it and just get on with things, it will get better on it’s own.
However, this has been proven in many situations not to be the case. Unaddressed trauma can also be the cause of Complex Post Traumatic Stress (CPTS) addiction, mental health problems and attachment issues.
Signs of Trauma
While trauma are those things, there are also the lesser known traumas that we live with that seeps into our everyday lives.
This can look like:
never feeling good enough and having low self worth and confidence issues.
Often over thinking about what people think about you and not feeling accepted
avoiding feeling close to people in relationships
an inability to set healthy boundaries,
People pleasing and more.
Over time, these traits can impact the way that we feel about ourselves and how we function in the world.
We become anxious, overwhelmed, emotional, disconnected and generally feel off.
We feel incompetent at work, and in our businesses.
We feel like we have imposter syndrome and at any moment people are going to find out that we really don’t have a clue.
We pick the same destructive relationships and wonder why we end up feeling hurt and alone.
While we can experience trauma, there are ways that we can help ourselves to feel more like ourselves again.
Things like therapy, connecting with friends, self help reading, trying a new skill can all lead to growth.
As a therapist I fully advocate trying more than just one thing.
If you find yourself feeling a bit off and therapy isn’t available to you, think outside of the box because there are so many ways to heal and improve your mental health.