Changing Relational Patterns

Changing Relational Patterns

4 Reasons We Struggle in Relationship & 4 Things We Can Do About It Let’s face it.  Relational trauma leads to less-than-stellar relational patterns.  And while some healing must happen in relationship, re-traumatization is almost guaranteed.  So as I mentioned in another post, there are some aspects of trauma recovery that must happen in isolation or with professional helpers only.  But when we are ready to venture in to the world of relationship again, we have to be aware of how we perpetuate our relationship patterns.  And believe me, that is painful.  It might be the most painful part of recovery. So I want to take this opportunity to help you with it.  I want to show you some examples of how you might be perpetuating your trauma patterns based on your own expectations.  What do I mean?  When we expect the world to work a certain way, it does.  Now there a million reasons that statement might trigger you.  It sounds awfully victim-blamey.  It sounds very new-agey.  It sounds like you have tried that and it has failed.  But stay with me here.  Consider what I have to say about it.  It is not your conscious beliefs that are driving this fiasco.  It is your inner parts.  And while I love them dearly, they need to be taught some new things.  Their expectations are ruining lives. So how do those expectations ruin your life?  Here are some examples. They think in terms of “all or nothing”. This is actually meant to be a phase of childhood development, but many of us never grow out of it.  We have...
It’s Not About Perfection

It’s Not About Perfection

In my early life, my perfection mask was the best.  I covered up all of my insecurities with accomplishments and acquisitions.  But I had unconscious beliefs that I knew were the “truth”.  I unconsciously knew there was something horribly wrong with me.  I unconsciously knew that horrible things had happened to me.  I unconsciously knew it was my fault they happened to me.  So I was damaged. But I didn’t consciously know until I was pregnant with my twins.  At that point, something started to shift.  My insecurities started to come forward.  My panic that my children would not be safe began rising from the depths of my repressed trauma.  I started to get in touch with my intuitive understanding that everything I thought was real was not real. And by the time the twins were born, I was in a full panic most of the time.  I had no idea how to care for kids.  I knew I had not been taught by my own parents although I didn’t know why I knew that yet.  As the memories came back and the emotions were felt, I made several promises to my kids.  I would never traffic them.  I would never sexually abuse them or allow anyone else to do that.  I would never physically abuse them or allow anyone else to do that.  I would not neglect them.  I would love them unconditionally and be emotionally available to them.  I would be a real mother and protector. I wanted to do these things because I didn’t want my children to feel as damaged as I felt.  I wanted...
5 Ways Groups Heal

5 Ways Groups Heal

I have been coaching trauma survivors for a few years and I love it.  I love it so much, I have been known to jump around my office and cheer for the amazing progress a client is making.  I love it so much, I struggle to find balance because I always want to check in with my email and Facebook.  It isn’t coming from obligation.  It is coming from purpose.  And I love that feeling, even when I have to focus on balance because of it. But when the intuitive message came through loud and clear that I was supposed to start my first group, I was hesitant.  It was one thing to coach clients on a 1-on-1 basis, but it was very different to run a group.  Let’s face it, those of us with relational trauma can struggle in groups.  I wondered what I was getting myself into.  How many triggered survivors would I have to talk out of leaving the group?  How many times would I cringe as I watched conversations with varying opinions go in a defensive direction?  I worried. Mostly, I worried whether or not I would be capable of moderating a group of survivors in a way that would feel safe.  I did not want to be a part of the problem.  I did not want to run a group that became another source of invalidation for a survivor.  I have heard the stories.  It’s hard to find a home when we already have a tendency to separate and isolate as a defense.  And when someone disagrees with us, we might take that all-or-nothing...
Helping the Healing

Helping the Healing

I’m going to get real about helpers today.  Helpers can come in many forms.  They can be therapists, life coaches, energy workers, EFT practitioners, mentors and more.  All of these professionals have the potential to help trauma survivors.  But these relationships have the potential to get off track, to cause harm, to re-traumatize.  In social work school, I had one professor who had us frequently repeat the mantra, “Don’t sleep with your clients.”  It was sort of tongue and cheek and it sort of wasn’t.  But I am not talking about the obvious stuff today. The stuff that throws us off guard is the stuff we don’t see coming.  Maybe we don’t see it because it is subtle.  Or maybe we don’t see it because we are repeating our unconscious patterns and haven’t developed awareness yet.  Either way, we can be thrown off our recovery path when we repeat patterns with our helpers.  So here is my list of what not to do if you are a helper or a help-seeker. Helpers: Don’t deny a self-diagnosis. When a client is exploring whether a particular mental illness describes them, don’t dismiss it.  Your clients might have a tendency toward “catastrophizing” or even hypochondria, but examine it with them.  Explore the possibilities.  I find this to be especially necessary with dissociative identity disorder.  We have seen the Hollywood version of D.I.D. and we assume this means we would know immediately if we met someone with this disorder.  But that’s not true.  It can be very subtle.  Parts are great at disguising themselves, especially in front of helpers.  If you are thinking,...