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Investigating my complex trauma

Thanks to Meg-John Barker, I discovered Pete Walker's texts on complex trauma. What I suffered Saturday night through Sunday was clearly an emotional flashback, and in fact, what I did instinctively was not so bad, compared to Pete Walker's 13 steps for managing flashbacks.

With my own childhood history, it is true that I have never had a secure attachment. Pete Walker says:

One simple way of describing secure attachment in childhood relationship is that the child has liberal, safe access to at least one caretaker to whom she can bring her whole self-experience - good or bad, happy or depressed, trusting or afraid, succeeding or failing - without threat of being attacked, shamed or abandoned. Those who do not get a modicum of this in childhood risk spending their whole lives isolating themselves in a lonely, defensive position whenever they are in pain and most in need of empathy, support and connection. Sadly, this wound cannot be healed alone, no matter how powerful one's capacity for introspection and self-processing, for the response to shut down vulnerability in relationship has been so practiced that it has become automatic.

 

Unfortunately, I have lived this all my life, and only in the last few years have I started, little by little, to change it. Pete Walker refers to Diana Foscha, an attachment researcher, and says:

The "pathogenic affects of fear and shame", as Diana Fosch calls them, cause the insecurely attached person to automatically eschew vulnerability and hide from sharing their deeper feelings and experiences. She calls this type of fear and shame "the instantaneous layering of reaction on top of felt experience." Hence when an individual, emotionally abandoned in childhood, has an incipient upwelling of core emotional experience, like sadness, anger, depression, etc., the inner critic reacts to it instantly with fear and shame preventing the individual not only from expressing it, but often from even becoming aware of it in the first place. Tragically this prevents the individual from communicating from the deeper levels of vulnerable experience that are necessary for a deeper, more sustaining kind of relating.

I can't think of a better way to express my own experience. I'm changing it, but it's a slow and complicated process. I'm lucky now that I have friendships that allow me to express my vulnerability, and we have sufficiently intimate and secure relationships. But I know very well this experience of not even realising what is happening to me, my sadness or anger, my needs, my boundaries.

And then, when I can't take it anymore, at first I blame myself (I'm not in touch with my emotions. I don't realise these things, and this is my fault, my problem), I try to avoid conflict (It's too late, you better let it go! You can't change anything any more), or, in the end, I explode and move on to the attack. It doesn't take me long now to think of several examples in recent years.

Now, with the retraumatization caused by the sanitary crisis, I have started to put self-care at the centre. I need it, and I need your support, friends. I do love you all.

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Article | by Dr. Radut