Why people get 'stuck' after trauma
"The traumatic experience and your reactions to it, CAN with the right therapy, move to a folder in the memory filing system of your life."
As a psychotherapist, I often see traumatised people whose sense of the past and vision of the future stops as if the trauma keeps them 'stuck'. The only thing they can see in front of them are continuing pictures of the traumatic experience. They begin to think and speak in extremes, like 'I will always feel like this!', 'I will never get over this!' or 'I'm forever damaged!'
Most people have to cope with some negative or challenging experiences in our lives. People with a sound support system can deal with adverse experiences quite well if these experiences are non-traumatic. Positive experiences may also counteract and balance some of the more difficult times. So in this situation, a person's sense of safety remains intact even in times of adversity.
Trauma Clouds Your Perspective
Yet the energy of person affected by trauma or PTSD gets stuck in that one place. So from the time of the trauma onwards, every experience, whether positive or negative, is overshadowed by the trauma. As a result, traumatic events greatly influence a person's present and future life. I hear it often described as 'I feel stuck at the time of the trauma'. Even worse, the trauma can block a person's previous sense of relative safety in their life. As a result, trauma sufferers disconnect from their feelings. It is almost as if the time before the trauma never existed.
What if trauma defines you
What if you feel the trauma now defines you? You do not have any control over it. The reason why you feel like this is because the internal trauma imprint in your memory system keeps repeating itself; it does not allow you to see beyond the trauma. It is called 'tunnel vision'; what you see is viewed through the lens of your traumatic experience. Guilt, panic, shame, hypervigilance, anxiety or depression can make you question traumatic events. 'Why me?'.
So how do you move forward after trauma?
A trauma therapist can help you become 'unstuck' and reconnect. Traumatic events cannot be erased, but the distressing emotions and body sensations associated with this experience can be integrated as being in the past, so it no longer has a hold on you. Once traumatic memories have been firmly filed 'as in the past', you can function again. As a result, you can shift your focus, not forgetting the trauma, but starting to see beyond it. The traumatic experience is no longer disruptive. While this may feel like a daunting process, with the right trauma therapist, you can move through and beyond your trauma.