“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
~ Fred Rogers
As a therapist specializing in helping individuals heal from trauma (particularly childhood traumas), I get asked all the time “Do I really have to talk about my childhood to feel better, it was so long ago. Can’t I just forget about it and move on?”
My response is usually “Has that worked so far in your life?”
If forgetting and moving on had worked for you so far, you wouldn’t still feel stuck in the pain of your past. For some people, possibly you, life experiences form deep wounds inside your body and mind, and take a bit more than just a “forget it and move on” attitude to actually move forward. It’s not for lack of trying! In my experience, people don’t want to experience the type of pain they do from trauma and they will do anything they can to relieve it.
The thing about trauma recovery is there is a lot of pain stored up.
To make an analogy, those painful experiences you went through are like splinters deep in your skin. Sometimes the splinter is so deep you can’t see it from the outside, but you can feel it. It’s tender and sore when you touch it. As the splinter stays in your body it can become infected. You know that even though it may be painful, you need to remove the splinter to let your skin heal and for you to feel better.
The healing work around trauma is like removing an old splinter. It’s painful to rehash and “open up” old emotional wounds, there’s sometimes infected stuff in the wound, it takes a while to heal, and it sometimes leaves a scar. Like removing a splinter, the end result is less pain, less tenderness and an overall improved quality of life.
So how does that translate to healing with the support of therapy?
There are a few steps involved:
First, we will “prepare and clean up the area where there’s a splinter”. Therapy can help you create a safety net of coping skills, supports, and healthy living tools right now so that you’re prepared to dig into the past.
Next we “remove the splinter”. We look at your history, help you retell your story, gain understanding around the events, and release shame and guilt.
Finally, we “help the wound heal and minimize the scar”. Together we help you integrate your past into your current life which creates the possibility for you to live authentically and see yourself as a resilient, confident person.
To return to Mr. Rogers and his infinite wisdom, talking about your feelings makes things less overwhelming, upsetting and scary.
Likewise, using therapy to talk and gain understanding about your past traumas can allow the pain to dissipate and the wound to slowly begin to heal.
If you would like to learn more about the healing process from past trauma or are ready to start your journey to heal painful wounds, please call me 916-547-3997. I’d love to chat with you about how to take that first step toward healing.
Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist who specializes in providing counseling to people healing from trauma and abuse, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.