We often think that trauma has to involve violence, like a car crash, assault, or physical abuse. Abuse can definitely lead to trauma, but abuse does not have to involve overt physical or even verbal violence. Neglect and shame can be just as damaging. Safety is a basic human need and when it is chronically undermined in any way our nervous system can become over-sensitive and dysregulated.
Invalidation Trauma happens when we are made to feel worthless, rejected, and devoid of human value. Children whose brains are still developing are particularly vulnerable to this. All children seek validation and emotional attachment from their parents. When they get chronically ignored instead, dismissed, unrecognized, unheard, like just getting eye rolls rather than responsive affirmation, this can lead to even more damage than more traditionally recognized overt forms of abuse.
Persistent invalidation and shame leaves its mark on us
We experience easily triggered emotional and physiological dysregulation, sometimes escalation and sometimes withdrawal. If we already have challenges with self-regulation related to an Autistic nature the resulting situation can be doubly overwhelming. Either way our objective is to recognize that such disturbances are happening, to simply notice, accept without judgment, and not beat ourselves up. We remember to breathe and focus on ways to care for ourselves that allow us to move forward with a minimum of damage until we are feeling better.
The nervous system sees invalidation as a threat to our existence.
It is not a sign of weakness when our body's protective systems kick in when old hazards are recognized. Such threat recognition is not always conscious and can be triggered by the smallest things.
The resulting escalations and shut-downs
can make life challenging and set us apart
Breaking the cycle of abuse demands accepting diversity
in ourselves and others
Recovery from oppression involves practicing self-compassion
letting go of what does not nourish us
even when we would rather hide, avoid, or create further chaos
Seek safety and find peace
Some people have had abusive
that make them feel so unsafe they cannot regulate themselves enough to fit in
In extreme cases the person may be in an ongoing state of defensive arousal, not trust anyone, and be in constant distress
Sometimes this distress lies dormant but gets triggered
at unexpected times
The most innocent things can set us off
anxiety wells up
defensive anger rises to the surface
We may not know what is happening
We can make it worse with desperate attempts to cope
We may take drastic measures to make it stop
The more drastic the measures, the more we hurt ourselves and others
Find a way to slow it down
Damage control until we are ready to move forward
We can learn to notice when this escalation is happening rather than simply getting wrapped up in it and carried away
Accept we are being triggered rather than pushing it down and denying it and acting it out
If we remember to breathe we can take care of ourselves
Help ourselves feel safe
Move forward with the least disruption
Practicing self-compassion is critical
Although it is hard to overcome the self-loathing that has been planted at our core
Finding supportive non-judgemental others we can tap into our spontaneous humanity with is the most healing way to build resilience to the active scars left by trauma
Although it is hard to overcome the fear and lack of trust that gets built into us
Moving our body helps bring regulation
Those who say we should "forget and move on" do not appreciate the depth of the emotional and physiological scars
Patience is required
We need to find ways to reconnect with our aliveness and the world to find our power again. We need to smile, move our body, ground ourselves in nature, and do things with others. We try to find inspiration wherever we can.
An old friend from my days in BC
made this lively video with some pals.
See if it doesn't make you smile and and get some energy moving in your body. Find life in yourself and build on it. Believe in whatever you choose, but get up and move around. Anything we can do to move forward in some small way from the box we feel stuck in is a triumph!
We all have our role in the inter-generational process
that healing calls for
Blame and judgement keep us stuck
You can do it!