Origins of Emotional Trauma
Emotional injuries can result from past or present events. In the present, we may face the unexpected ending of a significant relationship; the death or departure of a loved one; the end of a certain stage in life; or verbal, physical or sexual assault.
In our childhood, we may have experienced an absent or distant parent; a teacher who insulted our intelligence, appearance or athleticism; or we may have experienced neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
After emotional traumas, we need time to process, grieve and heal. This takes time, and isn’t easy. It can be tempting to try and avoid the grief or other uncomfortable feelings. We may even try to gloss over the fact that there’s been a trauma at all.
It’s All Connected: The Impact on Relationships
Sometimes instead of feeling and grieving, people who have experienced emotional traumas may try to numb their emotions. They may distract themselves with activities such as food, shopping or other addictive behaviors; tell themselves that they just need to “suck it up”; have unpredictable emotional or behavioral outbursts; or put themselves down for struggling.
When we fail to face things head-on, they often come out sideways—first, in how we perceive and treat ourselves and then in our relationships with significant others.
For example, if your parents were distant when you were a kid or often left you alone and you felt abandoned, you may have never stopped to consider how that experience has shaped you. Years later, when your spouse has a habit of coming home late from work, you feel powerless and rejected…..without realizing it’s connected to your early years.
One way to begin to tease apart this pattern is to notice when “this isn’t that.” Sometimes a spouse coming home late from work is just that. But, frequently, we fail to notice the connection between a situation that’s “triggered” us, and the original trauma at its core.
Resolving the Unresolved
If you have unresolved trauma in your life, you are not alone. Here are some ways to start addressing it: