Trauma can create an identity/personality that seems to be who you truly are but is in fact not your true self.
That trauma identity can then shape how you live life in a way that creates body and mind imbalance. Yet that identity, way of seeing the self and the world, and way of responding to the world can remain unquestioned for a large portion of life until it leads to difficulties such as chronic fatigue.
WHAT IS TRAUMA? Trauma does not have to be big ‘T’ trauma like abuse or accidents. Trauma can be the often unrecognized small ‘t’ traumas of feeling unloved and not good enough because your caregivers were unable to be emotionally or physically present or unable to acknowledge your emotional needs (usually because they had their own attachment- or life-traumas).
We can also experience trauma indirectly through witnessing and hearing about trauma and through ancestral and collective trauma.
I’d like to name a few less obvious causes of trauma that are often not considered to be majorly impactful yet can have an influence on body and mind imbalance:
- Invasive medical and dental procedures (particularly when a child is restrained or anaesthetised)
- Falls and so-called minor injuries
- Natural disasters that may or may not cause direct harm
- Being left alone or experiencing prolonged separation from caregivers (e.g. when caregivers go away on holiday and leave the child in the care of others who are not well attuned to supporting the child emotionally).
- Sudden loud noises, especially in the very young
- Constant moves and changes
- Birth stress (for both mother and infant)
- Having learning difficulties that are not recognised
- Witnessing parents arguing a lot
Please note that these events may not always lead to a trauma response. They are more likely to cause trauma when a child feels alone, unsupported, and powerless which can happen when caregivers are not emotionally present or able to support the child to manage the emotions that arise because of the event.
THE TRAUMA PERSONALITY: Peter Levine, a pioneering therapist with a focus on how trauma impacts our body wisdom and wellbeing states, writes that “in short, trauma is about loss of connection – to ourselves, to our bodies, to our families, to others and to the world around us.”
What’s crazy is that you may have lived like this for so long that this way of living and this level of disconnection seems to be normal and who you are.
But It is not.
It is your adaptation to feel safe and protected from any further trauma that could possibly happen and it can create chronic physical imbalance.
SYMPTOMS OF THE TRAUMA PERSONALITY: When a trauma initially happens the body instinctively generates energy to help you defend yourself but this energy often gets frozen in the body (if you were not supported to process the trauma and complete the stress cycle) and can lead to symptoms years down the line.
Some of these symptoms are more psychological like anxiety, panic attacks, feeling spaced-out, avoiding anything that could trigger trauma memories, addictions, forgetfulness, inability to form loving/connected relationships and fear of dying.
However, Peter Levine points out that there are often physical symptoms related to trauma that take longer to develop and these include: chronic fatigue or very low physical energy; immune system problems and certain endocrine problems such as thyroid malfunction; psychosomatic illness (physical illness with a psychological origin) such as headaches, migraines, neck and back problems; chronic pain; Fibromyalgia; asthma; skin disorders; digestive problems; and severe PMS.
What most of us are not aware of is how often we are in a holding state where we are frozen in our trauma adaptions and holding it all together to cope and feel safe. It is this trauma identity that creates and maintains our physical issues. However, this physical and emotional experience and the way we respond to life e.g. rescuing others; being a perfectionist/super capable and responsible; and excessive ‘doing’ is not who we truly are.
WHAT NOW? If your trauma personality doesn’t feel good anymore; if you realise that perhaps things are a bit out of balance; or if you are ready for a change because the way you are doing things keep creating fatigue – this is a great opportunity. I know it can feel scary but, used consciously and in a supported way, releasing trauma can be the doorway to unlock all those frozen parts of you to awaken your truth and to bring the lightness, freedom, joy, ease, flow and health that happens as a result.
If you wish to find out more about what this process looks like and how it could support your health and lived experience feel free to send me an email at [email protected] and let’s chat.
Trauma may have happened in isolation but it does not have to be resolved in isolation. That self-reliance is just going to make you more tired.
P.S. Did you learn something new today? Please leave a comment.