Traumatic events send shock waves throughout our physiology. We can be caught in the after shock of a traumatic event for a lifetime. The reverberations of trauma begin in childhood and echo throughout every part of our life.  Every time there is a new trauma or highly stressful event it reinforces the initial pathways in the brain. My clients often tell me, “here I am in this same place again.  I keep repeating the same pattern over and over again”. It’s been my own experience as well.  

“The effects of unresolved trauma can be devastating. It can affect our habits and outlook on life, leading to addictions and poor decision-making. It can take a toll on our family life and interpersonal relationships. It can trigger real physical pain, symptoms, and disease. And it can lead to a range of self-destructive behaviours.”  ~  Peter Levine

We all have an imprint of past trauma in our physiology. When an interaction or event resembles the original trauma, big or small, it sends the same shock waves through our physiology. Trauma or chronic stress will follow the original pathway until we intervene.  If you’re suffering you are experiencing a reiteration of an original trauma and you can feel it through your entire being. 

When we were little we didn’t have the resources to respond to these cataclysmic events so we created complex survival strategies on top of the shock waves of trauma.  It was the best we could do.  We survived the trauma but the imprint remained in our physiology. As we grew our survival patterns became our new identity.  

With loving awareness new pathways are formed in the brain and redirected towards wholeness.

The impetus of the survival strategy is to control the impact of trauma and the impetus of the human being is to heal. Do you have a sense of the dilemma of being a traumatized human being. I want to be safe (stay the same) and I want to heal (return to my nature of wholeness). 

As trauma therapists we must hold both of these impulses with equal respect. The impulse to self protect (stay the same) and the impulse to heal (expand). When we don’t understand the complexity of the traumatized system we can’t support our clients to heal at a pace that is right for them. We  must lean in and listen gently with compassion and tend to each of these impulses with the dignity they deserve.

The impulse towards self protection and survival is inherent in all of us and so is the impulse towards healing and wholeness.

The conditions for healing trauma are slightly different for each individual but I have discovered that there are some essential components. The most important elements are creating safety and building trust. Secondly we must be unconditionally patient and compassionate with tiny increments of expansion followed by retreats back to safety and defence. Healing is not linear. It’s complex, often messy and the most sacred journey of a lifetime.

In my online groups the container is safe and compassionate.  Many of the participants say that it is the first time they have experienced ease and comfort in the company of other human beings.  It’s a healing space.  A place of rest.

If you’re struggling I hope you will consider joining us.  You can find my list of upcoming events on the main page of my website. 

All of Candace’s services are Trauma, PTSD, Complex Grief, Chronic Illness and Benzo withdrawal symptom sensitive.

Candace Kirby, Counsellor

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