Trauma has a way of making us hate ourselves.
It can make us hate our bodies.
It can make us hate our personalities.
Particularly when we’ve been abused over and over again, especially in relationships, we often wind up blaming ourselves for what we’ve been through, sometimes harshly.
This is what trauma does. It messes with our ability to perceive and respond to reality.
Healing, then, is about being able to see reality clearly again— and respond to reality effectively.
Something a lot of people fail to understand is that pain that we experience over and over again, over a long period of time, causes us to erect walls around us.
it causes us to push people away.
It causes us to withdraw into ourselves.
And the thing is: that’s not weird. Of COURSE pain makes us withdraw.
When you touch a hot stove, your first impulse is to draw your hand back. To withdraw. To get as far away from that pain as possible.
But what if you’re not able to get away from that pain?
Your brain handles inescapable pain by distorting reality itself.
By dissociating and depersonalizing.
Is it any wonder that trauma survivors often don’t recognize the person in the mirror as themselves?
Many times they’ve had to deal with years and years of pain being the central fact of their existence.
The kind of mental backflips your brain has to do to deal with constant, unremitting pain and fear result in a fracturing of reality.
We consequently wind up unsure of and anxious about everything.
We don’t think we can trust our senses to tell us the truth.
We don’t think we can trust our brains to tell us the truth.
And that person in the mirror? How do I even know that’s what I look like?
This is a phenomenon described by people who have experienced all kinds of trauma, from abuse to addiction: when the look in the mirror, they don’t recognize— and often hate— the stranger looking back at them.
Healing from this kind of trauma involves recognizing it for what it is.
It involves being willing to relearn how to deal with the world— even though stepping away from our defense mechanisms can be horribly anxiety provoking.
If we’re going to heal, we need to accept that our body and brain did everything they could to handle the pain and trauma we had to endure.
We have to accept that we’ve done nothing to deserve our own hatred.
Even if we’ve pushed people away; even if we’ve sabotaged ourselves; even if we’ve developed psychological defenses that create more problems than they solve.
Sometimes the hardest part of recovering from trauma is acknowledging its full scope.
It’s not easy to admit the many ways trauma has wrecked us.
It’s very saddening to acknowledge how badly trauma can damage our relationship with ourselves.
What happened to you wasn’t your fault. How your brain and body responded to it wasn’t your choice.
Forgive yourself for your reactions and responses during times of pain, confusion, and stress.
Get on your own side.
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