The Continuity of Life as a Trauma Survivor

I will never forget the day I heard what I am about to write. It struck me as so profound; outside of counseling it is probably one of the most shocking to the senses connections I have made about myself and my trauma through someone else’s observations. 

I’ve come to accept that you are a friend who lives life from this moment forward

I have lived over 20 years of my life in complete dissociation of my childhood and the abuse I experienced. Never did I forget, but it never affected me. I never cried over it, felt the pain of it, or talked about. My emotional connection to life, to myself, to others – it was there, it was real, but it was missing the intentional, “in this moment” connection that makes life and love so fulfilling and amazing. 

I have felt before, voice to my counselor that I feel a lack of continuity in my life. I feel like I have lived three separate lives, all rich with their own instances and experiences of trauma. Each individual and specific to itself. Memories and connections between the sections do not exist.

All leading me to where I am today. Reconnecting these parts to each other is shocking to the senses.

Over the course of my adult life I have built friendships with a few people, many of them years in the making. I’ve always believed myself to be guarded yet trusting to those deserving. I have always believed I am open and forthcoming to those I have deemed safe in my circle. 

So, when a friend said to me one day (after nearly eight years of friendship) as I shared some things from counseling, testing the waters of opening up “Yeah, I don’t really know much about your past or your family but that’s okay. I’ve come to accept that you are a friend who lives life from this moment forward”, it really struck me at my core. 

I had never realized how little I share of myself; of my parents, of my childhood. I am not talking about the ugly details of my tormented childhood – I am talking about the normal type of shared memories we have with friends. Things like my favorite toy, cartoon, or song. I realize I have never tried to relate with stories about cool things I did during childhood, or when my own parents/caregivers were jerks. I never shared about elementary school plays, or embarrassing moments in middle school. Nothing.  

This has never intentional, this withholding of who I am and where I come from. I think that is what was so striking about this observation of me. 

The friends I have in adulthood only really know me from age 21 to now. It was easy to do that because of how often and far I have moved throughout my young life as my guardianship changed hands repeatedly. By the time I was 21 I was in a new town, divorced, and a single mom. Starting over, fresh – took little effort. 

Over the last three years, as my memories have come, as the connections to my body, my emotions, and my past have begun, I have shared my story. Many friends and family never realized the extent of my injury, of my illness, or of my pain. 

Neither did I. 

I will never forget what that friend said that one day. I had just begun seeing a counselor, I was receptive to hearing about my behaviors as a trauma survivor, and it was stunning to have the protective bubble I had created for myself to survive, so apparent to someone. Verbalized so softly, yet concisely. 

I have since deflated that bubble and I am learning to live my life, to share my story, and to stay connected to all of me: past and present. 

Tune in tomorrow – I will be writing about 5 Ways to Win my Heart!  

Catch up on other posts from this challenge here

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4 thoughts on “The Continuity of Life as a Trauma Survivor

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  1. I can 100% relate. I never really opened up with friends or even really therapists until with my current one. Even then it took me a long time to trust her and still have a hard time going into memories with her. I am slowly opening up about the horror of my past. I also know I am not alone in this, and that there are thousands of people walking the healing journey with me.

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