“It happened so long ago— I should be over it now.”
I wish it worked like that.
I wish it just took the passage of time to heal the damage that abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma do to our nervous and endocrine systems.
But it doesn’t work that way.
Time can often help heal trauma, because it gives us more opportunities to do the things we need to do to heal.
But the passage of time doesn’t mean we automatically heal.
Often people say things like “it happened so long ago, you should be over it by now” because they struggle to imagine or believe that we can continue to be affected by something that seems like it happened to a different person.
It’s true that you were a different person then.
But the person you’ve been every day since has been impacted by what happened to that person.
Something we know about trauma is that its effects are often delayed and cumulative.
Sometimes we think we’re fine in the immediate aftermath of an intense or painful situation…only to have symptoms and struggles appear and intensify over the course of weeks, months, and years.
This can be confusing. If what happened really impacted us, why are its affects taking so long to manifest?
Trauma, as it turns out, doesn’t care what we think “makes sense.”
We are VERY often still impacted by events and relationships that feel like they happened a lifetime ago.
We don’t get to opt out because we feel something happened too long ago to possibly affect us now.
We can TRY to deny, disown, or dissociate from what’s happening to us right here, right now, pretend that it doesn’t have any connection to what we went through once upon a time…but the more we do that, the tougher it’s going to be to ACTUALLY assess and address our strong feelings and urgent needs.
If you’re reading this, chances are good that your feelings and needs weren’t seen or taken seriously once upon a time.
We’ve had enough emotional neglect to last a lifetime.
Let’s not do it to ourselves now.
There’s no shame in something that happened a long time ago affecting you now.
It happens to MANY people— and it has nothing to do with strength, intelligence, toughness, or character.
I hear you. It’s hard to really convince ourselves, as adults, that things we barely remember (or maybe that we DON’T remember) can have such a huge impact on our lives and relationships now.
We don’t want to believe it. I would certainly prefer that wasn’t true.
But if we’re serious about recovery, we have to see what we see and know what we know.
Even if that takes us back to people and places that we don’t want to admit had an effect on us— that we never thought we’d have to revisit again.
The good news is, you’re not the first person this has happened to— and you’re not alone.
People have walked this path before you. And there ARE people who will walk it with you, if that’s what you need.
Just take one day at a time.