Do you feel the need to numb painful memories from your past? Has it been hard for you to feel safe, secure, and connected in your relationships? Is it possible that you’ve been looking for peace, happiness, and relief in the wrong places?
Maybe you survived a difficult or harrowing experience, such as an assault or an accident. Or perhaps you’re suffering from the long-term effects of child abuse and neglect. If you endured a situation that left you feeling unsafe or in emotional disarray, then you’re probably a survivor of trauma. As a highly individualized experience, trauma is defined much more by the perception of its impact on a person than on the event itself.
Yet, instead of fully processing your experience and embarking on the path to healing, it’s possible you have been avoiding the uncomfortable memories associated with your trauma. Perhaps you have a hard time doing things in moderation—such as spending, eating, or exercising—causing you to waver between extremes as opposed to a healthy middle ground.
Maybe you’re struggling with the social implications of unresolved trauma, causing you to numb shame or past wounds by either people-pleasing or avoiding those around you entirely. Since you often feel unsafe, you likely find it difficult to become vulnerable and create strong bonds with others.
Perhaps you have been numbing and medicating your feelings to keep the pain of your past at bay for some time only to find that, in the end, nothing works. However, in therapy, you can learn new skills for coping and find lasting relief from the effects of trauma.
Trauma Is A Common But Often Taboo Subject
We tend to categorize trauma as a dramatic or life-threatening event that tests our resilience. However, trauma can also take the form of subtle, systemic, and even intergenerational experiences that leave us in peril. Though statistics say that a huge majority of the American population—70 percent—has experienced some kind of traumatic event at least once in their lives, the actual numbers are likely even higher when we expand the conventional definition of trauma.
No matter what our experience may be, unresolved trauma has the potential to re-trigger us throughout our lives. Moreover, if our trauma dates back to childhood, we’ve probably become especially good at surviving and relying on our defense mechanisms to cope. Yet, as trauma becomes complicated over time, it greatly increases the risk of us developing counterproductive coping skills and unhealthy numbing patterns.
Unfortunately, our culture can be incredibly judgmental when it comes to exploring and sharing our emotional pains. It’s almost as if emoting has come to be considered a sign of weakness, and as a result, traumatic experiences are often minimized or disregarded entirely. Because society doesn’t give us very much room to navigate our emotions, we can end up having a hard time understanding the needs we have for healing our wounds. In response, many of us may feel that it’s simply easier to numb the pain.
If your trauma has become complicated or difficult to dissect and unravel, you may be turning to alcohol, drugs, food, exercise, or other means to desensitize. But in therapy, you can find a safe space to open up, explore trauma, and truly feel your emotions—instead of avoiding them.
Therapy Allows You To Understand The Source Of Your Trauma So You Can Heal
As a survivor of trauma, you likely never learned how (or received permission) to keep yourself safe. Therapy can guide you in the process of rewriting your life’s narrative, using techniques that ultimately reinforce new, healthy behaviors on the path to healing. By releasing yourself from the unspoken shame and expectations that are keeping you stuck, you have an opportunity to reimagine life anew.
After you complete a brief intake with our coordinator, you will be matched with the Fort Mill Psychotherapy clinician that is best suited to meet your needs. Your therapist will then collaborate with you on establishing a treatment plan that targets your trauma and provides you with effective skills for coping.
From there, your therapist will offer psychoeducation that can help you to understand and name your trauma while providing you with insight into the ways that trauma is stored in the body. Because both the brain and body store trauma on a deep level, it’s likely that when triggered, you often experience the same sensations and symptoms that occurred when the traumatic event took place. By understanding this from the outset of treatment, you will be able to approach therapy with a realistic understanding of how much healing is required for someone who has been carrying around trauma for a matter of months, years, or decades.
Our clinicians will also utilize experiential healing—which uses expressive tools for the purposes of re-enactment—to help you access past experiences and rewrite the narrative of your trauma. By reparenting yourself through old wounds, you can create new neural pathways and associations and bolster self-compassion.
If the trauma you experienced took place during your childhood, it’s possible that your parents (especially if they were abusive) did not have the capacity to offer you safety, emotional regulation, or self-love. However, therapy can help you to reparent yourself in a way that allows you to fulfill your own needs instead of living in a scarcity mindset, waiting for someone (or something) else to make you happy.
As you begin to understand why your past is showing up in your present, you’ll be able to see more clearly the effect of numbing your emotions. Soon, you will learn productive ways to heal your trauma and develop the capacity to respond—rather than react—to situations that are not actually dangerous, despite what your nervous system may be telling you. In addition, as you acquire mindfulness skills, your brain will have an opportunity to heal and reverse some of the consequences of trauma.
It may seem far off, but recovery is always possible when you invest in treatment. Though the road to healing can be bumpy and long at times, therapy is a journey worth taking if it means living a life free of trauma’s harmful and lingering effects.
Perhaps you’re interested in seeing a counselor about your trauma, but you have some concerns…
My trauma is in the past—there is no point in discussing it with a therapist.
While your trauma may be in the past, the truth is that you’re still suffering the consequences of it. A therapist can help you to better understand your trauma and the impact it is having on your day-to-day life so that you can find lasting and meaningful relief. By healing an old wound, the pain from your trauma will be resolved and you will no longer need to look to substances or other medicating agents to numb your feelings.
If I lean into the hard work of trauma treatment, I’m worried I may never find my way out of it.
Avoidance is a very strong and effective coping tool—and probably one you have been employing for a long time. The way we see it, your avoidance has allowed you to survive until you can get to a safe enough place to address your trauma and heal. But you don’t have to do this work alone anymore. We are confident that you will be able to find your way out of the darkness more easily with the help of a skilled therapist.
My trauma has nothing to do with substance use, numbing, and/or medicating.
It’s hard to make yourself the priority or even acknowledge age-old wounds, regardless of any steps you might take to numb yourself from the pain of your experiences. Even if you don’t numb or medicate, it’s likely that you’re ignoring or avoiding the pain of your past. However, the longer you wait to address it, the stronger its impact will become, increasing your chance of turning to substances in the future. Therapy can help you to address and understand trauma now so that you can live life to its full potential.
You Can Learn To Accept Your Emotions Rather Than Avoid Them
If a painful experience from your past is causing you to avoid, numb, or medicate your feelings, therapy at Fort Mill Psychotherapy can help you to acknowledge and heal from your trauma. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about how we can help you, please visit our contact page.