I’m not an expert in trauma therapy. I am learning. Nevertheless, I can talk about my understanding of the matter so far. After many years of self development; studying how to support people on their healing journeys; clinical practice; and ongoing education on systemic work and trauma therapy, I feel I have a much better understanding of how early childhood trauma affects me as an adult. And – if it affects me, then your trauma affects you, too.
I don’t know much from before I was born, but I do know that my coming into this world was a traumatic experience. I got stuck in the birth channel, and they had to pull me out with forceps. I was then given the usual 1960’s treatment (in Germany), I assume, and my mother was still narcotised. My father had not been present in the birth room, he was only allowed to see me from an outside corridor through a window. I’m just visualising that little bundle that was me, lying in a hospital cot, having no contact with my mother or my father in the first few hours, I don’t know how long for.
Many years ago I went through a re-birthing experience. It was absolutely terrifying – but also revealing. I literally felt I was dying in the birth channel, and then I was miraculously saved (by hospital staff). That – of course – was a blessing, and I’m eternally grateful for my life. Nevertheless, looking back to my now more than 50 years, I had to be saved several times. It is as if my birth set out my life path for me: I would constantly struggle, but I would always be saved by someone. My mother couldn’t save me, and I couldn’t save myself. That is a trauma. This experience didn’t make me feel safe with my mother. I also never felt I could be close to my mother or my father – not physically. I was loved, I have no doubt about that. Yet, I was also forced into being a ‘good girl’, I was not allowed so called negative emotions, like anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness etc. But I had all those feelings. That is one of the very few things I remember from my early childhood. I felt lonely, misunderstood, not seen.
I knew these feelings for a long time into my adulthood, too. I was not able to have close relationships with my partners. I do now, but a lot of therapy was needed to get me there.
I also know that I was breast fed for only a few weeks (which is something!!) and that my mother’s milk ran out quickly, as she put it. I often wonder if that had an impact on our bonding, too.
Later, behind the scenes, I was often chastised for ‘misbehaving’. Yet, my misbehaviour was being a ‘moody’ girl, ’emotionally unstable’ and often ‘ungrateful’. In public I was the sunshine and the pride and joy of my parents. Today I know that punishing a young child for having ‘negative emotions’ or reactions by shouting and beating is a traumatisation. And I got re-traumatised whenever I ‘misbehaved’. That went on until I was about 16 or 17, and reappeared again when I went back to live with my parents for a few months when my first child was about 9 months. I also got also re-traumatised in abusive relationships. I chose bullies, and I was determined to make them love me.
What I’m trying to say is that I recreated traumatising events because that was what I was used to, and because I was unconscious about it all. The traumas sat in my central nervous system, and I acted from my “Survival Me”. I entered abusive relationships because I had no belief in myself. I often gave up because I didn’t believe I could save myself. I needed saviours.
I am very interested in developmental trauma and its effects on us as adults; how to spot trauma in clients; and how to avoid re-traumatising them during our work together.
If you are too, there is a wonderful opportunity to learn about developmental trauma, how it affects us as adults and how to release it safely using the “Intention Method” (by Prof Franz Ruppert, author of several books on trauma):
It is going to be facilitated by Alexandra Smith, from whom I learnt a great deal about trauma. The workshop is going to take place in the centre of Oxford, at Peace House.
I would be delighted to see a few more bookings, because I believe in the power of group work.