Trauma Returns as Reaction?Sep 12, 2022
- Some people believe that trauma returns as the onset of some mental health disorder or symptoms.
- Some people believe that trauma is permanent damage, and trauma impacts actually never go away.
These are different stages of someone’s consciousness, awareness, and understanding of their own trauma journey. Everyone is on their own internal journey which will define trauma to them. They are going to believe in their own definition and coping because it seems familiar, and it is there for a long time.
As a matter of fact, both of the above-mentioned statements are incorrect.
Trauma returns in form of bizarre, unexpected behaviors and irrational reactions! You will end up reacting negatively or shutting down from something or someone, out of your character. You will not be able to stop yourself even if you know this reaction is not rational and appropriate.
For example, you might have got upset with your therapist in your counseling session even if you are working with them for some time. You might have gotten upset with some loved ones even if you know that they are genuine. They said something which was pinching or hurt your feelings. You felt rejected or abandoned or mocked at or judged or criticized just like you have felt multiple times in the past. Why did that happen? You know that your therapist or this loved one is not your abuser, but still, you lost your trust in them right away. You either end up attacking them or shutting down from them. Do you know that both are trauma-generated reactions? These reactions are not based on fact, these are ghosts from the past who got you and ruined your relationship.
This is so unfortunate and frequent in real life at personal and professional levels that inspired me to address this topic today.
Developing trust in a new (and old) relationship is a lot of work for our brain (emotionally, logically, and neurologically). Trauma history makes this internal process even more challenging. New brain pathways take longer to be strong and expressive to be reflected in real life. They are fragile and require diligence.
Now, you may say that others should not trigger me or be rude to me, especially a therapist who needs to be knowing not to trigger me. Well, there are 2 points to consider here –
- Are you expecting others to be a mind readers or some clairvoyant who knows your past and present?
- Is it their problem or your problem that you get triggered?
The reaction is the result of getting triggered. Triggers and reactions are subjective; they are as unique as your fingerprint. Only you can know and recognize your trigger. Something triggered you because it is your unaddressed and untreated wound. Triggers caused an immediate and irrational reaction. It makes you go into fight, flight, or freeze mode. It is your responsibility to recognize your trigger, and reaction, and work on it.
Now, if you choose to work on this on your own, there are 2 strategies to address the triggers –
- You need to go away from your trigger (person, place, activity) if it is pushing you into deep pain and intensifying your dysregulation.
- If it is someone or something that you cannot go away quite soon (such as a close family member or toxic but well-paying job) you would need to apply boundaries and a mandatory self-care routine.
Now going back to the situation if you felt hurt in the counseling session or with your loved one. The best strategy is, do not to lose your faith in them. Be transparent and share with them what triggered you and how it made you feel. This will help them understand you at a deeper level and they will be careful in the future. Your therapist will help you process the trauma behind that trigger and strategy to avoid it in the future.
Remember, it is your duty to give time to your brain to develop new neuropathways about relationships and internal journeys with this person. This is called ‘erasing old impressions of trauma’. You cannot do this by not addressing it.
Otherwise, Trauma will keep returning in the form of different triggers and reactions with anyone and anywhere!