What Does Trauma Look Like in Reality?
Last week, in How the Trauma of Rejection Contributes to Life Falling Apart. Part 2 of my ‘How to Survive in A Spiritual Wilderness’ Series. I shared the devastating moment when the father of my unborn child rejected both her and I just a few weeks in to the pregnancy with the immortal lines:
‘Well that’s fucked everything up. I was about to tell you that I’ve been seeing somebody else and I want to marry her.”
Later followed by:
” I don’t want to know what it is or when it is born. I don’t want any photos.”
I briefly alluded to the terror that washed through me with these words, particularly the latter ones, as I realised that the total responsibility for my unborn child’s welfare lay on my shoulders.
I was so stunned by his chilling potion of cold hearted rejection.
When we are impacted so profoundly on an internal level, how does it show itself in our external world?
A Most Defining Moment.
That avalanche of terrifying rejection became one of the defining moments of my life.
Something in me changed forever but, of course, I wasn’t aware of that at the time. It has taken many years to realise the detrimental impact those few seconds of rejection were to have on my life.
At the moment of traumatic impact we become numb. Natures way of protecting us. As, however, the numbness wears off, excruciating pain kicks in and we become only too aware of the many shattered emotions flailing around within us.
Initially, I didn’t have time to worry about that. Like anyone suffering the impact of a traumatic experience, there often isn’t time in the immediate aftermath to deal with those emotions. Attention and energy is required to survive the incident relating to the trauma.
In my case, I had to place all of my attention in to preparing for the baby. There were practical matters to attend to. So that’s what I did. Focussed on the practical requirements for my child alongside ensuring that, even though she was still in my womb, she was receiving the most stable emotional and psychological start in life from me possible – no matter how wobbly I felt.
When Time Catches Up With You.
Yet there comes, of course, a time where it all catches up with us. The range of suppressed emotions lurking under the surface, dragging us silently down on the inside whilst we fight so hard to keep a brave face on the outside.
As I lay in my bed, following my breakdown, ( How To Survive in a Spiritual Wilderness When Life Has Fallen Apart. Part 1.), the emotional and practical carnage that had been left in the wake of the rejection by my child’s father, I could see all too clearly what had happened.
In those few seconds that he’d triggered something in me which caused me to reject myself.
With any rejection comes shame. When shame washes over you so many other factors come in to play: loss of confidence, sense of failure, guilt, self blame and loathing. This is all compounded by a game of punishment we can play with ourselves, isolating ourselves from others which then leads to deep loneliness and then, of course, depression.
I became an expert at all of these things. Blaming myself. Punishing myself.
I forgot that I was still a living, breathing and functioning person with needs, wants and desires. That I had rights, tastes and preferences.
I was so cross with myself for ‘choosing’ such a spineless man to be the father of my child and for letting my child down in this way, that I had entered in to a pattern of self punishment and denial where I was not allowed to feel good about myself or my life in any way.
I’m jumping ahead of myself here a little as there is so much more to the story of my breakdown but it feels right to bring this in now because, if you are reading this because you are in the midst of a breakdown, I want you to explore this self-loathing notion and to check that you aren’t doing this to yourself.
Are You Punishing Yourself?
How much responsibility for the situation you find yourself in have you placed upon your own shoulders rather than sharing the responsibility with all the relevant parties?
Was there some moment/second where you subconsciously decided that you needed to be punished for these events taking place in your life?
Was there a moment when you, again, subconsciously decided that you had got something so wrong that you needed to be punished for it and the only person capable of truly punishing yourself well enough was – actually and ironically, yourself?
We can do this to ourself in seconds. It only takes a second in time for a switch to be turned on inside us that changes the course of how we are with ourselves and others.
This took me a long time to work out and, to be honest, I’m still a ‘recovering self punisher’. I’m still on the journey of trying to believe that I am allowed nice things in life again.
It took my childs father probably no less than sixty seconds to utter those words to me yet 14 years on, I’m still recovering from the devastating impact I allowed them to have on my personal well-being and self-esteem.
Why had I let myself take responsibility for the appalling actions of one man to penetrate so harshly in to my own psyche and well-being?
Discovering the answer to that question was to lead me back many years.
To the summer of 1977 when I was just 12 years old. I’ll be sharing that story in a future blog. For now it’s enough to know that when we experience incidents in adulthood that affect us deeply and traumatically, it can sometimes be because we have not yet healed a terrible experience that was reaped upon us in our innocent youth.
But first, I need to tell you what happened next with my baby. About her birth. About what came next. I’ll be sharing that with you in my next blog.
Until then, wishing you peace, self nourishing love and tranquility.
Karen is a #1 Best Selling Author & Spiritual Healer who runs on-line and live wilderness retreats for adults who are in the midst of their own spiritual wilderness so that that they can re-claim their joy and purpose in life.
She is currently writing the book: The Love Millionaire – Cultivating the Art of Inner Richness.
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Karen would like to thank her daughter for giving permission to publish the story of her birth within this blog series.