In a previous blog I told you I might post a picture of me when I was 2 with a broken arm. Well, I decided to follow through on my promise. Mainly because I want to make a point about child abuse and trauma and I want the world to start doing something more about it. This is a big job that needs awareness and dedication to get it done.
Here I am at age 2 with a broken arm. I didn’t fall. It wasn’t an “accident.” My step-father broke it. This is one of many traumatizing events that happened in my household over a period of 16 years. I moved out and became homeless at 16 which was preferable to living with my mom and (second) step dad.
I’m not telling you this so you’ll feel sorry for me. I’ve spent my whole life in the victim mode without even knowing it and now I want out.
The purpose of this post is to create an awareness of the lasting impact of abuse and trauma. Even if you just look at it from a scientific, brain research point of view, when severe trauma happens in the body the brain reacts and responds in the way that is most effective at that time. It tries to protect you. It builds assumptions and associations (called schemas) to help you prevent future trauma.
Mine were things like: man with beer on his breath = dangerous, adults = do not trust them, behavior = do what they tell you to do and you won’t get hurt, “solution” = consume (food, drugs, alcohol, retail therapy whatever) and it makes you feel better for a moment or two (in fact, sometimes the “treat” after a particularly traumatizing event was to go get ice cream or a new pair of shoes.) To make it even worse, I didn’t have any other stories to compare and contrast my story against except T.V. We moved a lot, we didn’t have close friends, people didn’t come to our house and we didn’t go to theirs. We didn’t even associate with our own family.
It’s basic cause and effect. Over time, trauma, worry and fear become habits. The repetition of fearful thoughts and events build neural pathways in the brain. You literally get addicted to the brain chemicals and when they aren’t there, you look for some way to get them. As a result of trauma, dysfunctional seems normal and normal seems weird. Once you’re hooked on your brain chemicals, you don’t feel right unless you have your fix. This is pretty much the explanation for self-sabotage.
I realize now, more than ever after reading Ekhart Tolle that I created a life of victimhood based on the associations I built in childhood. My entire mission in life became finding evidence that supported these beliefs: “Men are bad, authority can’t be trusted, you have to do everything yourself, do it the way they want you to do it or you’ll suffer, people won’t like you the way you are.” I was a “good girl.” I followed the rules and it nearly killed me.
I know I’m not the only one. I had friends, they had friends, we shared stories. As a professional, I’ve worked with battered women, at-risk youth, drug addicts, ex-cons, sexual assault survivors and foster youth. Child abuse has created an entire society of traumatized kids. Sometimes we call them “at-risk” youth, other times we call them demons but many times, they are doing the best they can based on what they’ve learned in life up to this point. In my opinion, this issue needs to be addressed in a much larger and more effective way than it is right now. It is a job that requires a community approach if it is to be effective.
Many people who want to help become so overwhelmed that they can’t help. In fact, I’ll admit, because of my own childhood trauma, I eventually had to quit working with youth. I literally felt like I was going to lose my mind. But I still care and I want you to care and I want us to make a difference. Even if it just starts by doing our own healing and thereby breaking the cycle.
I used to be ashamed of my childhood and I blamed myself for not “getting over” it. I wanted to just move on and pretend it didn’t happen and I thought I could just be strong. I went to lots of therapy and I thought I could get over it by talking about it, crying about it and writing about it. But it doesn’t seem to work that way.
The truth is, many brain researchers have discovered that trauma is stored in an entirely different part of the brain (amygdala) than the part which is responsible for logic, thinking and talking (neo-cortex). Therefore, you can never talk enough to heal yourself of the trauma. There are many mind/body techniques available these days that are more powerful for healing trauma such as EMDR, Body Work, hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing.
Another powerful and self-administered technique for relieving anxiety and curing phobias is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) they will send you a free download with step-by-step directions to do EFT, all you have to do is enter your name and e-mail address. They don’t hound you at all. It’s low-key yet highly effective.
If you can’t afford or don’t want to go to therapy, I found something that can help heal the effects of childhood trauma on the brain. It’s called Holosynch and of everything I’ve ever tried in life this is the most effective in calming anxiety and expanding your mind beyond the limitations of a traumatic past. It’s inexpensive and there are no harmful side-effects like there are with medication.
It seems that for so many years I was trapped in a cycle of survival and I didn’t know how to get out. Now I am beginning to see the light and I want share information that might help others to heal their wounds as well. Centerpointe Research will send you a free Holosynch demo CD. If you’ve been impacted by trauma or you feel like you’ve “tried everything” and it didn’t work, this CD is worth a listen.