Go Through the Fear

Go Through the Fear

Most people don’t like fear. When it rises up, the first instinct is to move away from it or whatever is causing it. And that makes sense. Our instincts were designed to do just that. We keep ourselves safe by listening to our fear and backing away from danger. But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we get confused. We learn that fear means one thing: stay away. Our trauma response has been honed to take over the minute something appears dangerous. And while this is not exclusive to trauma survivors, we are definitely more sensitive after childhood trauma. The response is tripped more easily. I have grown up this way. My inner defender has played her role well. She has kept everyone safe. All inner parts are still alive and accounted for. We made it through everything. But she is convinced that her tactics are the only way. Hyper vigilance is her favorite tool. She ratchets up the fear when things are slightly out of the ordinary. And the more out of the ordinary it is, the more the anxiety and fear will increase. The emotional experience by itself would not necessarily be debilitating, but when I am not paying attention, the thoughts get involved. And all hell breaks loose. “You can’t go on that plane across the country. You are a single mother. What happens to the kids if you die?” “You can’t go meet those new people. They will reject and abandon you like everyone else.” “You can’t go to that conference with those important people. That will make you too visible. And that’s not safe.” These...
A Different Inner Conversation

A Different Inner Conversation

For the past few days, I have been stuck. I know you know what I mean. “Stuck” is one of the most common descriptors I get from other survivors about their journey when they email me for help. I know I was stuck because I received half of a memory and then it stopped coming. I did everything to get it started. I tapped. I meditated. I watched movies to invoke emotion. I watched my thoughts, but I wasn’t seeing my normal mania. I was at a loss. But this morning, I started to hear words. They weren’t kind, but I recognized them. They were coming from my inner defender. Sometimes she is known as the inner protector which is a great label. She can also be referred to as the inner critic which is a horrible label. That label makes us feel like we need to reject this part. And that is disastrous. My inner defender is in her late teens or early twenties. And her approach has worked … sort of. Most importantly, she kept us alive through some very tough times. And I am grateful. So I took the time to write her words. She had a lot to say. She is clearly frustrated with my efforts to undermine her security tactics. And while you might not recognize flexibility in her words, I know how far she has come. I am proud of her for that. I will warn you her words include curse words which might be triggering for some. The inner defender’s words are in bold.  My adult self’s words are in italics. You...
6 Things I Have Learned in Trauma Recovery

6 Things I Have Learned in Trauma Recovery

I have been at this recovery “stuff” for a while now. Most of us have discovered that this is a lifelong journey. I am not the only person who has figured that part out. But there are some other things I have discovered as I have moved through the darkness in to the light. I share these with my clients often, but honestly, most of us need to hear them more than once. Our defense mechanisms can make retention difficult to say the least. So I thought I would share my secrets with you even though they aren’t really secrets. But if I tell you they are secrets, your inner child parts might be more willing to listen up. So here they are. 1) There is a voice behind every emotion. Many people ask me how to find their inner child(ren). It may be the most frequent question I hear. It is not surprising. I write about the inner child(ren) all the time. And while there are many options for reaching out to the inner child(ren), there is one method that never fails. You must look behind the emotions. Any emotion will do: sadness, hopelessness, rage, even joy can provide you a window to the inner child(ren). And while you may not hear the voice at first because the emotion may be too intense, eventually you will hear a message. And when that happens, it is time to let that voice speak. I recommend writing it down. And I recommend not interrupting. It is tempting to soothe that voice. It is tempting to offer solutions. But don’t. Honestly, they...
The War of Responsibility

The War of Responsibility

The ‘R’ Word I went public with my recovery work about three years ago. During those three years, I have learned a thing or two about what makes survivors cringe and what doesn’t. Honestly, as a survivor, I already know what makes me cringe. And there is nothing that will divide a survivor community more quickly than the word – responsibility. There is so much tied up in that word. We are already trying to fight our way out of a sea of blame, shame and guilt our abusers placed on us. Even if we have largely removed any self-blame from our adult cognition, it is still creating difficulties for us beneath the surface on the unconscious realm. So when we see an image on Facebook that indicates we are responsible for our lives and our happiness, we want to throw the computer, tablet or phone out the window. I get that. I really do. I have some amazing friends building businesses in the personal growth sector. I love them dearly. But sometimes, I want to scream from the rooftops that trauma recovery doesn’t work like those traditional images say it does. We can’t just wake up one day and make a decision to be happy, rich, successful or even compassionate. We are up against a little more than our conscious thoughts. We have to dig deep. We have to find all those unhealed parts beneath the surface and heal them too. Otherwise, those decisions we would love to make ain’t gonna happen. The Subtleties Even with my extensive knowledge about this, I have touched a nerve with that...