Trauma Triggers

I was hesitant to share this post, but feel it may benefit others whom also unknowingly live with unprocessed trauma. This is me as a child, deeply immersed in my own inner world.

From the outside our family looked normal, with all the appropriate societal structures in place. But on the inside there was emotional conflict. Ever since I can remember I tried to make my mother happy. I thought it was my fault that she is so angry and so sad. Although it was not her intention, she passed her survival stress on to me. During birth I sensed her fear, during childhood my nervous system shaped around her anxiety, by the time I evolved into adolescence I was a carbon copy of her turbulent insecurity. I felt the imbalance, but did not understand it. My frustrations were silenced by shame. My life riddled by guilt. I found myself apologising all the time. I tried my best be a good girl to make my mother happy, but then exploded with pent up emotion. Always, no matter what the deeper underlying truth was, I took the blame, because I was extremely afraid of being abandoned without resources or safety. This pattern began in the womb, I was born cesarean and not cuddled or breast-fed. The isolation continued into adulthood. Acutely afraid of being rejected, on the outside I tried to please everyone. On the inside my nervous system could not tell the difference between a real life threat or simple daily stress. Even though I seemed socially integrated, I always felt like a part of me was misunderstood.

My survival trauma was intensely re-triggered during an incident five years ago when I got held up by burglars at knife point. As I worked on healing the post-traumatic stress of this event, I discovered that I had very little or no resilience to bounce back. My nervous system was worn-out by life-long underlying, unprocessed childhood trauma that I self-medicated with alcohol and re-creational drugs. My nervous system had been in fight or flight mode for so many years that it simply went into freeze mode and shut down. A rude awakening! Progressively over time I could clearly see how trauma mis-guides us to make life decisions that are totally out of alignment with our integrity and the consequent negative side effects are devastating on our nervous system.

Even long after the burglary incident my body would spontaneously start shaking, I would find myself curled up in foetal position, listening to my heart beat thumping against my chest, even though rationally my mind was calm and dissociated, objectively looking at this phenomenon unfolding in my own body. Upon further research I learnt that trauma gets trapped in our fascia, in our organs, in our body tissues and reeks havoc on all our body systems. Trauma runs through our neurological circuit and re-triggers an emergency adrenal alert over and over again. There are other psychological conditions that originate in the mind, but post-traumatic stress is trapped in the body. There is no cookie-cutter remedy to deal with this complex condition and I do not profess to know what I am talking about, but over the past few years I’ve used my body as my laboratory of direct experience and gained some subjective insights. The research is on-going of-course, there is no overnight fix. We are all different in our healing, but somatic therapy and TRE looks like the best and safest routes to heal post-traumatic stress. I discovered this too late, so I used my existing knowledge and took a more risky route, intuitively healing myself through Yoga and Shamanic medicine. In the depth of my trauma I found the nurturing practice of Iyengar Yoga so soothing. The incredible knowledge and compassion of my teachers made me feel so safe and the discipline encouraged me to create clear boundaries. Subtly my strength and energy returned, until I could finally master more advanced asanas again. Mysore Ashtanga Yoga has been a life-line at many challenging moments in my life and continues to be the most powerful psychotherapy for my healing. In combination with Shamanic plants, most specifically San Perdro, I shifted major energy blockages and gained the most profound insights. This route is not for everyone as it does for sure re-trigger trauma along the way, but if you have the courage and want to face yourself head-on, this is a potent way to clear karma.

Deeper studies in neuroplasticity (the ability for our nervous system and brain to change), gives much hope to anyone suffering from trauma. The re-wiring of our nervous system needs to begin with our body, the release of trapped energy from our fascia, organs and body tissues, then followed by gently re-building the resilience of our nervous system through adding appropriate physical challenges. Too much too soon re-triggers the trauma. Too little will only keep you complacent in the same spot and not doing anything will definitely cause deterioration of your condition over time. In fact I believe this is the reason our planet is such a mess at the moment. Unprocessed trauma is at the root of all anti-social and violent behaviour, it is the underlying cause of many un-explained illnesses, for example auto-immune diseases. So if you suffer from trauma you have to take healing action and release the contraction, no matter how slow you open, start now! It is not helpful to yourself or anyone else if you ignore your feelings and keep pushing forward, toughening up and getting on with it. We need to stop and listen to the pure wisdom of our bodies.

My mother did not know any better, her nervous system carried the trauma damage of her parents and in this way it flows from generation to generation, accepted as normal life stress. Ignorance is not bliss, knowledge is key! When we understand our condition we can take responsibility not to spread our trauma into the world. Blame is not a solution. If you blame someone else you give your power away. Take your power back by taking responsibility. I vowed to break this ancestral pattern. My mom and I are currently working through these very difficult emotions together. I can’t say that we will resolve it, but at least we are aware of the underlying energy that keeps us bound in negative emotions and we are actively working towards inner freedom. It’s not easy and often we trigger each other tremendously, so we have to take time apart to process. What an interesting dichotomy, we love each other deeply, yet we cause each other so much pain. Many intimate relationships display such trauma patterns.

It requires true honesty, sincere clarity and committed effort to make the changes needed. Obvious triggers (possibly including family or friends) need to be avoided until the nervous system is sufficiently lubricated to withstand the blows, otherwise an already compromised nervous system will continue to become ever more brittle until it breaks. These are my findings up to date. Hope it is helpful to some of you dealing with similar sensations. You are not alone and you are not trapped. You have the power to change your life! The most profound realisation i’ve come to recently is that I am not responsible for my mother’s well-being. It is not my fault that she is unhappy and my safety does not depend on her happiness. In life I do not have to continue playing out this same drama by suppressing my own authentic feelings to please anyone in order to survive. It’s ok to say no! and it’s ok to focus on my healing until I can ground my life in my own root chakra and re-energise my existence with original, sacred life-force. Only when I honour myself am I able to truly be there for others unconditionally. Essentially we all need to take our inner authority back and Re-Mother ourselves, give ourselves the missing nurturing and nourishment. and Love ourselves, because we cannot truly love others unless we love ourselves. The cycle of trauma has to stop somewhere, let yourself become that courageous space that opens up a new way of being heart-centred in this turbulent world.

Resources for further Research: &