New year, new me? Well, there is no need for a new me every new year if you’re OK with yourself and feel enough as you are. But certainly, there are situations, relationships, even people that need to be let go of. More accurately – it’s the type of relationships I’m having with certain people, or even more accurately – the expectations I have from them.
I’m going through an “interesting” process – as I’m healing my childhood trauma more and more, I realise the triggers and traps I fall into more and more. As early childhood trauma is an attachment trauma in its essence, it’s a relational trauma too. That means it’s mainly the relationships with people (and ourselves) that are hard to navigate and even understand clearly most of the time.
That’s why I am talking about traps I fall into. I put myself into situations where I am vulnerable and I get triggered and re-traumatised.
In a way, the process of trauma healing requires that. If we weren’t being ever triggered, we won’t ever understand the childhood wound and/or belief that’s being stirred. Thus, we would never recover.
The trap I keep setting up for myself is the expectations I have from people, and I mean close people. I keep thinking, believing, searching for this fulfilment of my emotional needs that I never got from my primary caregiver, my mother. But I’m looking at the wrong places.
The fact is that I never received emotional fulfilment and never had a secure attachment with my mother. This will stay with me for life. This is the disability I often refer to. When you have stable, loving and secure relationships with your caregivers, you grow up a stable, secure and resourceful person. When your childhood is that of distress and insecurity, it’s like you have to limp with one leg throughout your life.
It is possible to regain stability and wholeness in your life even after childhood emotional trauma. But it won’t happen if you’re looking for your lost “limb” in other people.
The truth is that no one can ever replace the type of stability a loving, supportive mother/mother figure-child relationship can give to a person.
Substitutes won’t work. Only you know what you need and how you can give it to yourself. But it takes time and work to figure that out. This is the essence of trauma healing and recovery and that’s what makes it so hard too. That you, who never had a true example of an emotionally present and fulfilling parent, have to become one. This is the greatest challenge of healing from early childhood trauma.
I need to redefine relationship after relationship in my life. I find myself in this situation often unexpectedly and unpreparedly. It takes days, sometimes weeks, to come out of strong triggering situations. It takes tremendous inner strength to unwrap and see them clearly, to make conclusions and integrate what’s being distilled as new knowledge.
It is essentially rewiring of your brain and your whole operating system.
The problem is not the relationships or the people, no. The problem is not out there, externally. Most of our problems are inside, especially when we talk about trauma and posttraumatic stress.
That said, some relationships need to be reinvented. Some perhaps do need to be completely let go of. But most importantly, we need to identify how we can meet our emotional needs. Sometimes this could be turning towards others but other times this would happen if we turn towards ourselves.
It’s true that this is extremely hard but that’s often the journey of the childhood trauma survivor. We long so much for this caring person, this warm embrace that could make all our worries and problems go away. But we need to understand that now we are that person.
It’s like learning to walk again, this time with an artificial limb instead. But it’s possible and that gives you the freedom and stability which you once lost. It may feel awkward and you may be quite unsure in your steps at first but with practice, you build confidence and stamina.
Soon, you begin to step firmly on the ground beneath you and reach again for the world before you.
With love and wishes for a happy and blessed new year!0