When I started this blog a few years back, self-care tips strategies served as the primary focus. From time to time however, I threw my own well-being journey in there as well. My site evolved from a self-help site to sometimes acting as a public diary. I pour my heart out on here discussing a plethora of personal topics from trauma to mental illness to addiction. Dozens of people have reached out over the years thanking me for opening up. I could care less about the attention. I hope by sharing my tale that it offers some insight into hard-hitting discussions.
I say that to say this. Picking up from last week’s shit show of a post, I felt the direct effects of re-traumatization. Offering a quick recap, I started to truly dig deep into my trauma history in therapy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Spelunking into the dark, cavernous depths of my memory fucked me up pretty badly. Unfortunately, it happened again.
With old scars re-entering the scene as fresh wounds, I experienced triggers this week that normally would not phase me.
1. My FatherI love my father to death. This has been a blessing and burden for the better part of three decades. This wonderful man sadly struggles with his own demons, mainly alcoholism. When he is sober, my father will literally take the shirt off his back for you. When he drinks though, Mr. Hyde shows himself. He turns into a nasty, mean motherfucker. When I was in high school, I almost lost my father to cirrhosis of the liver. He was hours from death due to his drinking. Fast forward ten years, his drinking has picked up again. He had it under control somewhat in between, but everyone sees the toll the drinking has on his physical health now. He just does not look…healthy. Between talking about how his drinking affected me as a child in therapy and literally seeing it unfold in front of my eyes again, my brain twisted itself into a funky-looking, deranged pretzel. As of late, I tried talking with my father on more than one occasion about going back into substance use treatment, but he constantly deflects my questions, places blame elsewhere, or minimizes his drinking. We yelled at each other the phone at least three times this week.
2. Learned BehaviorI conducted a family session with a seventeen-year-old girl and her mother. I always mentally prepared myself walking into their home. It is always a tense atmosphere where literally the smallest thing can set them off into a screaming match. Already being on edge from my father, my patience sat upon a crumbling foundation. I cannot even recall what set them off this time, but right in the middle of the session, they went at it. I kept my calm longer than I expected. However, the teenager yelled over me talking, and my patience cracked. I raised my voice to a respectable volume. I did not curse or say anything irrational. My exceptional volume alone scared me though. It immediately reminded of seeing my parents fight grow up. Seldom did they get physical, but they yelled. It was almost an every day occurrence. I left that session in a state of shock. I felt riddled with shame. A little part of my parents’ interactions rubbed off on me. I shuttered with disgust at the very thought.
3. Trauma Affecting My Behavior
Already in a miserable mood, I slightly regressed and fell back onto my go-to coping mechanism. Let me preface it by saying this much. I am not proud of it whatsoever, and I despise this maladaptive coping skill. When I am feeling void of emotion, I look for it with women through short-term flirting or physical intimacy. It sounds fucked up, and it is.
A female friend reached out to me. It was just to say hello, and my dumb, depressed ass turned it into hardcore flirting. She called me out for it, and straight up said, “Stop flirting unless you plan on following through on it.” Wake up call much. I am thankful that I have friends like that, but I was mad. Not at her, but myself. Here I was again falling backwards because of how my trauma groomed me to handle tough situations.
I took a little break from life and pulled back for about 48 hours after this all went down. I took off from work and spent a day in bed from depression honestly. It got to me and wore me down.
However, this is how the healing process occurs when it comes to trauma. I am literally doing everything in my power to let the process take hold. I had to remind myself of that. and give myself credit where credit was due. I was able to recognize these things happening in real-time, which was a first. I am actively taking steps in my recovery by discussing my trauma and its effects. Not only that, but I examine my trauma in an attempt to understand it. By doing so, I can take steps to challenge it like I am right now. I even gave myself a day to heal after opening up old wounds.
-The Caring Counselor
4 thoughts on “Opening Up Old Wounds”
I love your transparency. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there when you’re in the mental health profession because I feel there is an unspoken rule that all of us have to have our shit together to help others. Thank you for sharing your real experience with triggers and regression. ❤️🌻
I used to think if I buried it, it would disappear. About three years ago I realised how I had come through so much trauma feeling strong and have been leading a life that most people around me have said they envied. I had created a belief in myself that was empowering. However a week ago I decided to take some business coaching, feeling excited I was going to have someone spurring me on to help me reach my full potential. I really wanted this. During our first session he wanted to discuss the causes of some things I feel I struggle with. This has triggered so much i feel like I am back to where I was 25 years ago. I cannot focus, small memories float to the front of my brain I keep crying. I was feeling so powerful before. Do you think I should stop. I know these things never go away but I thought I had learned to deal with them.
I read your post and would love your opinion. Can therapy sometimes be too much. If we have dealt with things why trigger them to take hold again.
One thing I would point out is that business coaching and therapy are two very different things and require very different training/education. The thing about trauma is that it can creep up on you any time and can be triggered years after feeling like we have accepted it. I do believe that therapy can rehash trauma and sometimes re-traumatize us. However, if you are working with a good therapist and doing your own work between sessions, then this too can be processed appropriately. Go back to what you know worked and tap into your self-care/support system.
thank you so much for your advice, I really appreciate your time.