“The paradox of trauma is that it has both the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.” Peter Levine
Healing from trauma is like being on a seesaw. When we were a kid this used to one of our favorite pieces of equipment to ride on at the playground. We would push our feet off the ground so our side would fly high, giving up the power to see over the top of all the people and laughing faces. Sometimes we would close our eyes and pretend we were flying free. And then we would fall back to reality every time, reminding us that we had no wings.
Trauma has the power to destroy a person, especially a child. Children are susceptible to what they hear and see, but even more so to what they experience. Those words are ingrained into their minds. They start to believe what they are told, especially after being told the same thing after so long.
People tend to think trauma and abuse indicates physical scars, however the invisible scars hold just as much long-lasting effects, sometimes they hold more. Physical scars people can see and tend to believe easily. The ones that hurt more are the invisible scars; the words heard, the actions witnessed, and those actions experienced.
The child ignored can suffer just as much as the one being punched.
For us, there were many times we would watch our mom interact with our sister. Our mom would hold her, love on her, cuddle with her, carry on conversations, teach her to cook, etc. We longed for that feeling; that feeling of being included and wanted. We were often pushed off to the side and ignored. There were always reasons why we couldn’t be included; we had chores to complete, we didn’t do something right, we were just in the way, we didn’t listen properly, and any other reason she could some up with. There were even times when we told she couldn’t stand to look us or be in the same room with us. After awhile we stopped asking to be included. Instead we sat in the corner and just watched, being comforted by our imaginary friends (which we later learned was an alter or alternative personality).
Being ignored and pushed away had just as much impact as when we were physically being attacked at home. Over time, these experiences damaged our self-esteem, self-worth, self-love, and so much more.
But it doesn’t have to end there. Through healing, trauma can be positively powerful. It gives us the ability to become the person we want to be, rather than the person we had become. We can learn about our past, how it affected us, what we can learn from it, and how we can use our experiences to help us become an amazing person. Trauma experiences do not have to be a life sentence. We can use those experiences to rise above the evil and trauma and prove our abuser(s) wrong. We are worth loving and being loved. We are worth so much more than we were told.
Never stay stuck in the past…persevere. Become the person you want to be. Which is where we are…learning who we are and who we want to be. As well as learning how to love ourselves!
A. G. Ballard