3 Alarming Things Happen When You Don't Heal Your Trauma
As a younger adult, I had a co-worker who’d ask me about different things in the past when we were growing up. I could not remember anything she was referencing to. I can’t recall lines in movies like most people. I don’t remember lyrics to classic songs. To this day, my memory is very short and fragile.
I never understood why. I remember her asking me, “What happened to you when you were young that you absolutely remember nothing?”. I don’t remember the majority of the event(s) that happened in my life from a very small child. About the 9th grade, I have some vivid memories. Everything else is a blur.
I can remember bits and pieces of school during different grades but not ages at home. To be honest, I cannot recall how I got to this place. Whatever happened caused me to create a bubble around my reality.
Recently, I’ve discovered that there is another world outside of my protected world. There are things that bring me joy and gratitude that I never discovered. I didn’t discover this by identifying 'that thing'. I discovered this through more traumatic stress. Weird, right? You’d think that I’d go into a post-traumatic disorder on a deeper level or something, but nope. The hurt was so intense that it made me ask myself why and how.
I began to research. I wanted to know about self-love and what it looks like in action. I wanted to know about choosing partners and trusting people, anybody. I wanted to know why it is so damn hard for me to forgive. Voila! The universe sent me more answers than I expected. It opened my eyes.
I’ve begun to understand the events I can recall. It explains this space I live in. I’ve learned more about myself than any other year alive. I’ve begun to understand why I act or react in such ways.
I didn’t know what I was looking for. I knew I didn’t want to be this person anymore. It felt like death. It hurt me to let my old self die. In fact, the funeral of my old self is still in service.
Healing takes time. It is a beast. Everyone who’s experienced trauma should try to heal as it serves as a tremendous benefit in your life. More importantly, it will help you become less heavy, less anxious and less likely to become someone you don’t know.
This is what happens when you don't heal your trauma:
It affects your nervous system and health
An article, The Key Role Your Nervous System Plays in Trauma Recovery, explains what happens to the nervous system when it experiences trauma. It presents the outcome when our nervous system is above or below a “window of tolerance” (Danylchuk, L., 2013).
In short, our nervous system has different responses to trauma. Some of us display hyperactive or anxious behavior. This behavior is above the window of tolerance. Others have slow responses such as depression and disconnection (isolation). This behavior is below the window of tolerance.
When we operate above or below this window of tolerance, we train our system to normalize. We train ourselves to normalize emotion in that space when we stay at either level for too long.
In either space, we began to numb. We avoid feeling painful emotions such as disappointment and judgment. Numbing helps us calm our nervous system. As we numb, our brain creates paths when we repeat certain patterns. It makes it a familiar place to get back to the next time we go down that path. The paths create either positive or negative experiences we have.
Numbing is the gateway to addiction. When we numb to calm or train our nervous system, addiction is a result. Addictions can be food, shopping, sex, drinking, smoking, etc.
Unwanted outcomes after that are a domino effect or result of us numbing instead of healing. Our life becomes impaired and we establish a fragile, traumatized nervous system. We operate above or below the window of tolerance until our health takes us out.
You live in lifetime bondage
How many of us are living with deep secrets? How many of us are living with shame and disappointment?
Suppressing, numbing, running away from who you are is bondage. We live in secrecy with the thoughts we’d never share with anyone. We suppress and ‘deal with’ our emotional issues the best we can. We do not talk about the things we should deal with. Some of us call it “sweeping it under the rug”. This is life in bondage.
It's too heavy. But, it doesn't have to be that way.
People are hurting. They live with secrets that eat at them each day. There are millions of people operating with unhealed trauma. Those same millions are hurting other people emotionally and physically.
Unhealed trauma is detrimental to your relationships
Unhealed trauma affects the most important relationships. Relationships with your children, your spouse, your parents, and other people suffer. Unaddressed trauma allows us to create protective shells to avoid feeling in areas we don’t want to feel in. When triggered, or when that feeling or emotional place we don’t want to revisit is present, we act out. We act out most times on other people.
Some people learn to manage their unhealed trauma. Most people operate with it in dysfunction. Unresolved trauma affects us all.
Think about how our parents were raised. Our parents have their own trauma. They raise us with unhealthy traditions. Their behavior is a reflection of how they deal with their issues. It creates trauma for us. We go into the world and meet other people and their trauma. The cycle continues. The results are several dysfunctional families and relationships within our communities.
When you don't heal, you work your shit out on other people.
Be willing to face your weaknesses and triggers. Be brave enough to work through them so you can experience life outside of secrets, shame, and fear. Healing your trauma is for you. It is for the benefit of everyone around you.
Demand peace in your life. Face your past. Sit with it. Understand it. Make it leave. Then, create the life you want in freedom.