By Linda K. Laffey, MFT
Enduring a traumatic event or series of events can change your entire life. It’s not that you look or sound different. Mostly, trauma can prevent you from feeling like yourself from the inside out.
What’s more is, eventually, that “lost” feeling can overflow to manifest outwardly as well. Unprocessed trauma can impact the way you conduct yourself at work, in your relationships or personal endeavors.
Social gatherings often become stressful, and you might even take specific sabbaticals—dating, hobbies, fitness, etc. The curtains seem to close on your life, and piercing darkness overtakes your entire world.
How Trauma Undermines Trust
Trust in yourself, others, and the world around you can feel crushed. And you may feel a haunting sense of aloneness. Here’s how trauma causes these things to happen—but why it’s not honestly you.
Instills a “Sense of a Foreshortened Future”
If you’ve faced trauma, the experience may have introduced what’s known as a “sense of a foreshortened future.” This mindset is more than fearing a young death, although that might be part of it.
Instead, it’s a looming dread that you won’t reach your career goals, find love, have a family, or things won’t work out. In short, you believe that bad things are going to happen, and good things are not going to happen to you.
Crushes Any Thread of Hope Inside
A traumatic experience can take every thread of hope you have inside and twist them. You may start to think that history always repeats itself, and your future is doomed. “After all, just look at what’s happened already.” Sound familiar?
This sensation paints darkness and dim colors over any bright spots in your past, causing you only to see a bleak future. It’s a constant crushing feeling of any hope you may have, and you don’t trust your future anymore.
Causes You to Doubt Your Emotions and Instincts
Trauma frequently causes massive self-doubt and makes you second-guess yourself continually. Instead of feeling confident, you back away from professional challenges or social events.
Being in a situation where you have to depend on your emotions and instincts can make you panic. Perhaps, you feel numb. Or maybe, you can’t land on one emotion but feel a whirlwind on the inside. Either way, the level of self-doubt you may experience is debilitating.
How Trauma Keeps You Isolated
In addition to depleting you of hope and trust, trauma can also make you feel isolated. Here are a few ways this can happen.
You Believe the “Nobody Will Understand” Lie
After experiencing a traumatic event, it’s not uncommon to think that no one will honestly “get” how you feel. Little by little, you convince yourself that it’s futile to share your story because you’ll only end up explaining yourself endlessly—but nobody will understand.
You Think You Need to Handle Your Struggle on Your own
Sometimes, trauma survivors undermine how significant the experience was. You might believe that your struggles aren’t important or significant enough to reach out to others. In other words, the experience doesn’t merit help or support. So, you choose to believe that you need to handle your struggle by yourself.
You Are Ashamed of the Way You Feel
Also, you may start to doubt what genuinely happened. Perhaps, in your mind, you try your best to “rewrite” the story because of how it makes you feel. Plus, you might feel embarrassed or ashamed that you can’t merely “get over it,” so you don’t tell anyone else your story—or say anything to anyone.
You Assume That Alone Is the Only Safe Place
Experiencing a traumatic event can change the way you perceive the world around you. People you once knew as friends may seem untrustworthy now. Rose-colored glasses become shadowed, and the world is only out to get you. Finally, you conclude that alone is the safest place to be.
Except that it’s not—but this is one of the many lies trauma will tell you. To recover from trauma, you must know how it can play out in your life.
Take the first step…
If you are ready to address trauma that may be negatively impacting your life, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so 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