Sometimes it feels like you’re just watching the rest of the world from the outside. You don’t feel like you fit in with other people.
Do you feel numb or like you don’t know how you’re supposed to act in certain situations?
Are you worried that you just don’t feel normal and you don’t know why?
What you may not have considered is that unresolved ghosts from your traumatic past are still coming out to haunt you. Here’s what you need to know about how trauma may be affecting you and what to do to address it.
Which Symptoms are Related to Trauma?
You may tell yourself that your struggles aren’t that much different from anyone else’s. After all, a lot of people deal with symptoms like anxiety or trouble sleeping. But certain symptoms are more common among people with unresolved trauma. When you don’t deal with traumatic issues from the past, it manifests in clear ways. Some of the symptoms that result from unresolved trauma include:
• Anxiety or panic attacks
• Feeling constantly “on alert”, also called hypervigilance
• Feelings of shame or worthlessness
• Chronic depression, particularly if it doesn’t respond well to medication
• Feelings of emptiness or detachment
These symptoms can also exist in people who don’t have unresolved trauma. But the difference in those with a painful or difficult history is that the symptoms above are a result of the trauma itself.
How Does Unresolved Trauma Affect Us?
Unresolved traumas are like ghosts that refuse to stay buried. You may think that if you can just stuff down unpleasant experiences, you can move on with your life. If it was bad enough, you probably don’t want to think about it again anyway. But unfortunately, these damaging experiences have a way of cropping up elsewhere despite efforts to ignore them.
When something traumatic happens to you and you don’t deal with it, you can expect it to come out in other ways. It is not unusual for people who have experienced trauma to develop addictions to help cope with symptoms.
Trauma’s Impact on Relationships
Unresolved trauma can have a significant negative impact on your relationships. You may be distrusting of other people, expecting them to hurt you. You may also find yourself in unhealthy relationship patterns. Maybe you are constantly in a victim role, suffering more abuse at the hands of your partner or friends. Or you might be in the rescuer role, repeating old patterns in your new relationships.
How to Break Free
Many of the challenges you face in your relationships can be traced back to the traumas you experienced. But the good news is that the past doesn’t have to haunt you anymore. You just need to be brave enough to process what happened to you with the help of a good counselor. Therapy can teach you healthy ways to deal with your trauma.
One of the biggest challenges may be to admit what happened to you. Many people are in denial about past trauma or try to downplay it. When you don’t acknowledge your pain, you can feel helpless. That helplessness often leads to a lot of confusion and social difficulty.
Most importantly, learn to be kind to yourself. Treat your body well and take care of your health. Convince yourself that you deserve to take care of yourself. Be as patient with your own needs and emotions as you would with a small child.
Healing from trauma can be a slow and difficult process. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small, knowing that it brings you closer to your eventual healing.
You can look forward to a day in the future when you will feel more comfortable with yourself and your relationships. Keep reminding yourself that you’re worth it!
Take the first step…
Managing unresolved trauma can be challenging on your own. When you are ready to start feeling like yourself again and reconnecting with others, I’d like to help. Please contact me via voicemail or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT