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Why I Can't Hide my Trauma Anymore - And You Shouldn't Either

When you live with the constant aftermath of a life filled with trauma, sometimes you just want to hide in bed, pull the covers over your head, and cry out your broken heart. But the world doesn't stop for your pain, or have much sympathy for what you have gone through. The wounds you bear inside are invisible. The scars of the past live on in your heart and not on your flesh.

What people don't see, they don't understand. They don't know how hard it is just to get up and get moving some days. They don't see how many spoons it takes you just to live your life and pretend to be normal. They don't know how hard it is to pretend to be fine when you are anything but.

People have told me that I'm brave to write about my trauma. I feel anything but brave, though. Being open and honest is a means of self preservation. I feel like, if people really begin to understand what I have been through, and the effects of trauma on my mind and my life, then maybe they can begin to have empathy.

If you live through successive traumas and have CPTSD as a result, each successive trauma leaves you less able to cope than you were before.

Imagine trauma as a physical injury. The first trauma cuts off your arm. You can still do most things that you did before, albeit more slowly. Then the next trauma cuts off your other arm. Another takes your leg. Then the other leg. Finally, you are just a torso that is a stump. No appendages. You can't take care of yourself the way you once did.

That is what trauma does to you. Each successive trauma takes a piece of you away. It takes away a little bit of your ability to cope with whatever comes next. It takes away some of your normal functioning. Then, when you have been through multiple traumas, you get to a point where you can't pretend anymore.

You finally get to a point where you can't go it alone. You can barely take care of yourself anymore. Things that you used to be able to do with ease become insurmountable tasks. That's what trauma is like, and that's why I write. I don't want others to feel like they are going it all alone, and suffering in silence.

As we begin to break the silence about the effect of trauma in our lives, we as survivors raise awareness in society. Perhaps this awareness can lead to kindness, acceptance and empathy in the hearts of others.

Hiding your trauma is hard

Many of us who have been through trauma feel like we have to hide our pasts out of shame and stigma. We are often blamed by society for our problems, our outbursts, or our over the top reactions to small slights.

There is an impulse to hold your trauma inside, to put on a mask of normality, and to pretend to be just like everyone else. This can help trauma survivors to gain a temporary acceptance, and to fit into society. But sometimes, something bad happens, and the mask begins to slip. Then, it falls off entirely, and we are left to pick up the pieces of our broken lives. Again.

According to Sandra D. Cohen PhD, hiding your trauma can cause additional psychological symptoms:

  • “Forgetting” Doesn’t Work

  • Secrets Eat Away At You

  • Untreated Trauma Creates Symptoms

  • The Scars Of Trauma Live On

You may still have flashbacks, feel triggered, and have trouble trusting others and feeling safe in your body. When you try to push your feelings and your symptoms down and avoid them, they end up surfacing at the worst times, usually during some kind of stress or conflict that you experience.

According to Linda K. Laffey, MFT it is important not to suppress your trauma:

  • Suppression Prevents Healing

  • It Compounds the Problem

  • Trauma Informs Your Whole Life

  • It Influences Your Entire Body

Although society would rather have you ignore your trauma and pretend it doesn't exist, this is only making your problems worse in the long term. Not only does suppressing trauma impact your mental health and relationships, it also effects your physical health.

Trauma is stored in your body and your nervous system. This means, when you don't process your trauma through a practice like EMDR therapy, your body is storing your pain. This can cause all sorts of physical pain symptoms that seem to be unexplainable. Only through processing your trauma are you able to heal.

Seek out help and support

Finding a support system to help you heal your trauma can make a huge difference in your life and your health. If you haven't gotten into therapy yet for your trauma, I highly recommend it, as it can be incredibly healing. When you go to a therapist and talk through everything that has happen, it is like a floodgate releasing from inside you. This is an opportunity to feel truly seen and heard for the first time.

Speaking with a professional allows you to put past events into perspective, and to see how they are influencing your current thoughts and actions. We can store a lot of negative beliefs based on trauma, which causes us to be excessively fearful. This can create problems with relationships and employment.

Allowing yourself to be seen and heard allows you to begin to heal.

Finding a care team can be a huge benefit. This can consist of a therapist, life coach, psychiatrist, case manager or support group. When your team works together to provide wrap around services, it can help you to heal in all different aspects of your life.

You can learn new coping skills for when you are feeling triggered, work through your limiting beliefs, process trauma using EMDR, and find support with your relationships and employment. Having a safe space to talk things through can in itself provide a huge benefit, especially if you have had to hide your authentic self for a long time because you felt too broken.

To get started in therapy, you can contact your insurance provider for a referral, go to a crisis center, the emergency room, or your primary care doctor. Any of these providers should be able to refer you to a community mental health center for treatment. Then, they can determine if you need inpatient or outpatient services, and if medications may be helpful.

It is only by being willing to open up about trauma that you can begin to heal. That is why I speak up about my trauma. I don't want anyone else to feel like they are alone in the dark, the way that I felt for so long.

If you aren't ready to contact a therapist yet, there are also PTSD and CPTSD support groups in online forums like Facebook or Reddit. You don't even have to post or introduce yourself right away. You can start with reading the stories of others, and finding people that you can relate to. Having a shared experience and knowing that you aren't alone can be an important first step toward opening up yourself.

If you have any questions about finding healing from PTSD, let me know in the comments! I am happy to provide additional resources, and answer your questions in a future blog post!

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