The Coronavirus pandemic can be especially triggering for those of us with complex trauma. There will be constant reminders of our trauma as we try to navigate a world in crisis. Those reminders can bring our childhood beliefs back to the surface. These beliefs were often instilled by our original abusers and live in our unconscious with our unhealed trauma. Here are some examples of what might trigger us.
Scarcity of Supplies and Professional Services
Loss of Control over Self or Space
Invalidation of our Emotional Reaction
Denial of our Reality
In a time of crisis, one of the most important yet difficult things is to get honest about how we are feeling. We are going to default into a trauma response. We might numb our responses and move into panic mode, buying all the supplies and watching the news incessantly. Or we might deny there is a problem to keep the panic at bay. Both are unhealthy, but typical. And they will have an impact on our immunological health. Connecting with self can help us find a balance in our responses to crisis. Here are some steps to try:
Slow down and ground. This doesn’t have to be a monumental experience. You don’t need to spend hours each day grounding unless you want to. Take 5 minutes to connect with the body and slow the mind’s racing. Do this often throughout the day to reconnect with self. Bringing awareness to our thoughts is just as important as bringing focus to the body. Both are needed to fully ground. Take a look at my Facebook live stream about the 3 myths of grounding for more information.
Write from the belief that there will not be enough. Scarcity beliefs come from trauma. There wasn’t enough of what you needed in your childhood because you were not prioritized. In a crisis, this trauma can be triggered. Try writing from beliefs like:
“I will run out of what I need.”
“I won’t be able to get what I need.”
“I won’t survive.”
Write from the belief that something horrible will happen to you. You have spent your entire life waiting for the other shoe to drop. And you used hypervigilance to stay alive by avoiding surprises. Right now, this crisis will trigger hypervigilance. Write from beliefs like:
“This is going to take me out.”
“I can’t control my environment like this.”
“I won’t be prepared for everything.”
Write from the belief that you are being punished. In childhood, we were often blamed for things that were not our fault. In adulthood, we could have a tendency to believe we are being punished when things go wrong. Try writing from beliefs like:
“I am being punished because …”
“I should have known better and done something about this sooner.”
“This is happening because I am bad.”
Write from the fear of being alone. Some of us may leave a traumatic environment with a deep desire to be alone. But some of us may believe that being alone is dangerous because there is no protection. Being alone can also make us uncomfortable because our unhealed trauma can rise to the surface when things slow down. Try writing from these beliefs:
“I am not safe when I am alone.”
“I need someone to protect me.”
“I can’t slow down.”
Write from the fear of being trapped. It is common to come out of childhood trauma with a strong fear of being trapped. When we are restricted from moving freely in our lives, we can experience intense trauma responses. Write from beliefs like:
“I can’t get away.”
“I will be stuck here forever.”
“They are trying to control me.”
Write from your anger. It is important to get real about how you feel about this virus. The virus might feel like another abuser. You might have some tough questions about why the bad people seem to live forever while the good people always get clobbered with bad things. You might even have a few hopes about who the virus takes out. Try writing from beliefs like:
“I hate this shit.”
“I hope it takes out (enter abuser’s name here).”
“I am sick of all the bad things.”
Feel your emotions. You probably grew up in an environment which invalidated your emotional response and denied your reality. The same thing is happening here. There are plenty of people ready to call any response to this virus an overreaction. And there are plenty of people ready to call the non-reactors irresponsible. But take time to hear out how you are really feeling. Self-acceptance and compassion will be incredibly powerful for you right now. You do not need external validation for how you feel. Take time to connect with yourself.
On March 15th, I held a live stream on my Facebook page about our internal processing of the Coronavirus pandemic. Go to this link to build your awareness.