The Heart Of Trauma

The logo of this blog, that beautifully painted heart is the healing work of an incredibly talented young lady who has overcome enormous trauma and become a shining star, a woman of substance and purpose.  Her story is riveting. She awoke one morning and found her fiancée overdosed in her bed. She was unaware of his heroin addiction. Her recourse was overwhelming depression and dissociation. For about a year and a half her substance use became unmanageable and she cut or burned herself everyday. Distraught and in pain her parents sent her to treatment where she continued to self harm. Ultimately she joined us at The Refuge. The behaviors continued even as she bonded with her peers and staff, doing some deep work. When confronted with the possibility of having to discharge to a higher level of care, this very gutsy lady decided that she would fight for her bed and paint rather then self harm, and paint she did. Dozens of paintings all emblematic of a specific feeling that drove the desire to self harm. She painted her way through trauma resolution.

This was a decision to heal and to enter into the painful emotions and allow the grief process to proceed. Today 7 years later this courageous woman is sober and free of self harming behaviors as well as free of process addictions. She sponsors other women and recently married a remarkable young man. She never expected that she would trust her heart again and life is good.

The symbol of the Heart of Trauma is very significant because we must enter into the pain and experience it to completion in order to heal our heart, mind, body and spirit.

I hope you will join me on a journey to explore what Trauma is, how it manifests in individuals, and what excellent trauma treatment is. We will discuss multiple areas of interest and identify important skill sets and cutting edge information vital to clinicians who work with trauma survivors.

I thought about what I would like to accomplish with this “blog”. This is an opportunity for clinicians to understand trauma from the trenches. The Refuge has been working for 10 years with the most amazing, courageous, resilient clients who have struggled with addictions, mental health issues and with life in general because of a history of trauma.

Those sad, painful trauma stories are the beginning of a much bigger story, the stories of triumph, of compassion, of joy, and of creating a life of purpose. The journey to triumph takes time and the love, empathy and talent of clinicians and staff who reach out of the box and create a healing environment for clients and their families.

So what I would like to accomplish with this blog is an examination of all of the variables of trauma events and patterns, the correlation between addictions and coping behaviors and a myriad of current topics relating to working with trauma.

Let’s start with an explanation of trauma.Trauma is visceral, sensory and cellular. Our body, mind and spirit record everything that ever transpires in our life; the smell, the touch, the taste, the sound and that 6th sense, it intuits and translates the events for our mind, body and memory.

Trauma, the life events that negatively impact our vision of ourselves and our place in the world, often linked with a perception and fear of death or threat to life or bodily harm.

For a 3 yo who has a puppy jump on him licking his face, wanting to play, that may be perceived as life threatening and set up a lifetime terror of dogs.

For a child who is being sexually abused by an adult that is a caretaker that same fear of death is present. Can we compare and contrast the 2 events? Only in the context of a life history and the perception of the individual can we truly understand the impact on a human spirit of any or many such events.

I have been honored to witness with many clients the Unraveling of their trauma story and although the events are often so very similar each story and story teller are unique in their perception of events and their impact. As a clinician it is important to treat each trauma history individually without expectation of outcome.

“When we understand the trauma story the behavior always makes sense”.

Trauma resolution is like a treasure hunt or putting the pieces of a puzzle together. When we are able to assist our clients in this often painful treasure hunt we can also assist in the process of letting go of shame, guilt and remorse, vital to the healing process.

We look at trauma as Big T and Little T. We might expect that big T trauma, for instance a major accident, 911, a fire, rape or sexual abuse would be more impactful then little t trauma, which might be bullying or constant negative comments from parents. However, little t Trauma can be a pervasive, constant and debilitating drain of the Spirit of a human being and often leads to the wasteland of low self-esteem.

In our next meeting we will explore in depth A Portrait of Trauma.