I can offer no guarantees, but for some, it is possible to cure the detrimental impacts of trauma and loss. To cure trauma and grief, emotions need be acknowledged. To acknowledge them, the walls we have built around the emotional turmoil need to be taken down, gradually, piece by piece, at a pace we can tolerate and, ultimately, come to accept.
Our sense of self is what connects us to others, to the ways we are like others, through the biological body we carry, the family we belong to, the institutions we work in, or the values we learn from the societies and cultures surrounding us. There is, nevertheless, a part of ourselves we cannot know. From bullying in the school-yard to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by parents or teachers, or abandonment by spouses.
For those who have been traumatized, abused, or abandoned in some way, and most – if not all – of us have, trust has been broken. Not only that, the part of us that has stopped trusting others is a part of ourselves against which defenses build. A wall builds around this part so we don’t have to experience the pain and vulnerability any more. But at the same time as the wall protects us from pain, it also prevents us from seeing the stress, trauma, and loss we all share.
The wall becomes a roadblock to sharing ourselves with others (because either we don’t trust them or we don’t trust who we are with them). We grow lonely amidst our focus on our own individual stress, trauma, and loss which builds up behind the wall. Not allowed to talk about it or “air our dirty laundry” or not even allowed to have feelings, access to our own pain is denied.
But there is a cure for this all-too-common ailment of the “wall” or the “roadblock”, which pretends to be our hero, rescuing us from emotional hurt, protecting us against even more pain. Yes, it’s hard to see how this can be, but if we recognize the development of the wall, without knowing how to get passed the roadblock it creates, we are already at the second step along the path to the cure.
How can we do it? What is the cure? I can try to help with that, but what each of us does is our own.
What’s the cure? To find out, stay tuned to Dawson Psychological Services for my next blog entry.