What is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to an overwhelming event such as the sudden death of a loved one, abuse, or an accident. Often the event is unexpected and overwhelming, which naturally triggers a fight or flight response. Many trauma survivors continue through life experiencing times when strong emotions overtake them. This occurs when your nervous system is reminded of the original traumatic event. Because we are wired for survival, our bodies will react in a similar fight or flight manner as though the original event were occurring at that moment.

So, how do you change something that you have no control over? By working with an EMDR-trained therapist who can help you make sense of the original trauma. This does not mean you tell yourself that it is fine that the trauma occurred. Rather, we will explore if your take-away from the trauma is still accurate today.

An EMDR-trained therapist can help you make sense of the original trauma which was so overwhelming. Rarely do we stop to make sense of the event. By taking the time to make sense of the takeaway from the original event, your body can finally complete the original trauma processing. Thus, the currently associated echoes (rage, hypervigilance, abandonment fears, etc.) will no longer be needed as much for protection.

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If you are ready to finally make sense of how your past is stealing your present, I can help.

How Does Your Unresolved Trauma Show Up?

Unresolved trauma lives in our bodies as feelings and beliefs. It’s the anger that is just about to explode. It’s our people-pleasing needs that keep us walking on eggshells. It is our fear that we are not lovable.

Your Body Remembers Your Trauma

Sophia knew not to take candy from creepy guys in old cars. What she didn’t know was that she shouldn’t accept her older cousin’s invitation to be part of his “secret club.”

Every year, Sophia’s family makes the 11-hour trip to the Annual Smith Family Reunion. Everyone looks forward to it, but not Sophia. Her excitement ended the summer she turned 11, when her older cousin asked her to be part of his “secret club.” Today, she would trade anything to be able to go back and say “NO!”.

While she rarely thinks about those reunions today, she suspects those “secret club meetings” have something to do with her hang-ups regarding intimacy and sex. Overall, her marriage is great, but when it comes to intimacy… her body just can not relax. Sometimes, it’s like she is not even in her body.

Trauma Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes

Acute Trauma usually involves a single event. It is sudden, overwhelming, and sometimes even life-altering. Examples include:

  • The phone call you feared… came.
  • Your “NO!” meant nothing.
  • You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Chronic Trauma is often so subtle that we don’t even think of it as trauma. Instead, we tell ourselves, “That’s just the way things were.”  Some examples are:

  • Waiting anxiously, week after week, for your dad to pick you up for his weekend visit, but he rarely did.
  • Your mom’s critical and demanding nature has convinced you that you are not good enough.
  • Witnessing abuse in your childhood and then later, as an adult, finding yourself in abusive relationships.

Medical Trauma can be short-term or long-term. It can be real or imagined. Some examples are:

  • The helplessness of watching your child struggle with a long-term medical condition.
  • Wrestling with all the “what ifs” related to your partner’s recent cancer diagnosis.
  • The fear that your chronic headaches are an undiagnosed brain tumor.

Living with Trauma

When difficult things happen, it is hard to make sense of them. As children, we did not understand the big picture, so we created our own story… and that story has not served us well.

We now understand that trauma is more than a memory, thought, or image. Trauma lives in our head AND body. But it doesn’t have to. How would life be different if the things that haunt you simply became a memory without any emotions or body sensations attached to them? That is exactly what EMDR therapy offers.

Unresolved trauma is the uninvited guest that keeps showing up in your life.

If you are ready to close the door on your trauma, contact me today.