26 thoughts on “Experiencing Trauma: 7 Signs You Haven’t Healed Yet

  • August 16, 2018 at 4:16 am

    Hi Tamara,
    I always appreciate your thoughtful posts!
    I hadn’t really recognized that one of the key points you make that definitely applies to me personally is or can be not only due to trauma but also, can be an indicator that the trauma is not fully healed. The point I am referring to is change.
    For my entire life, I always thought this particular “quirk” of mine was just the way it was for me–that somehow I am defective in this area. Change is EXTREMELY difficult for me and I don’t get it because now, as an adult, even a change that I consider making that sounds like it could be POSITIVE –AND is a change that I have CHOSEN, is STILL terrifying. Usually to the point of feeling paralyzed.
    Several examples: I have thought about moving out of state for a while now–or even out of town on occasion. Why? Because I feel that my entire life has been based on sacrificing my own feelings, wants and needs to be available for family and friends 24/7. Also, I feel my life is stagnant here and opportunities to be someone more involved, vibrant and happy are few and far between here.
    My therapist tends to agree with many of these reasons.
    Another example: I’ve been out of the workforce and on disability for ptsd, major depression for about two decades now (things got to that point during a court case against my abuser that was long, drawn out and traumatic). I have gone to college and earned my degrees (part time) during some of those years, also was in the hospital. I worked VERY part time twice during the two decades–but then I started having increased anxiety and then panic attacks which resulted in additional diagnoses. Still, I have always wanted to return to the workforce! So why then did I rather impulsively apply for a simple job as a street crossing guard at a middle school, get a call for and happily accept an interview for yesterday –only to have anxiety escalate until two days ago I gave in and cancelled the interview (something I wanted) and THEN have beat myself up for it emotionally ever since!?!
    There are more examples but I am sure you get the idea lol. I also (incidentally) cancelled another thing this week–a casual get together with a group of 5 women that I met last spring shortly before my hysterectomy in a church group I was invited to attend.
    I have really been having a hard time lately for some reason but wanted to say hi!

    • August 21, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Hi Lori,
      Thanks so much! I’ve been kind of preoccupied with work lately so I feel bad that I haven’t been on here to answer questions or posts like yours. Thanks for commenting.

      I’m sorry this has happened to you. This is tough. I know you wanted to push yourself forward and get a new job doing something that would propel you forward in your life. But don’t feel bad about it because a lot of people with anxiety and PTSD struggle in this way. In fact, I once had a client who would anticipate our sessions and get really excited only to back down and tell me she couldn’t make it in. It was so heartbreaking because she was so close to getting into her car and driving to my office but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. We had phone and online sessions for weeks before she was able to come back into the office.

      It’s difficult to “push against” our natural impulses when we perceive threat. Threat could be anything from too much sensory overload, to too many people, to having to meet 5 women and be judged or placed in an uncomfortable spot, etc. Your body is responding naturally to “threat” (whatever your body perceives as a threat).
      Hang in there!

      • August 22, 2018 at 4:23 am

        Hi Tamara,
        I am sorry you have been so busy and preoccupied lately–I know that can be stressful and exhausting! I am also glad you are able to come back and reply to comments because I have missed you and value your input. However, no pressure is meant by that statement–take care of yourself!
        That makes sense–my body is reacting to perceived threat. I just wish the anxiety would totally disappear lol. I can unfortunately identify with the client you had that was excited about something (going to see you for therapy in her situation) and yet when the time came, just couldn’t do it. That happened to me again today with an appointment–and then I was even too anxiety filled and embarrassed to call and cancel at such short notice so I did nothing, then felt appropriately guilty and ashamed. This has happened a few times with this particular appointment. I need to contact them and apologize–again but I don’t know if I should tell them the truth (that I have intense anxiety that has recently worsened) or if it is better to come up with some excuse? I normally feel honesty is the best policy but it is scary being vulnerable.
        My therapist said on Friday during session that she feels I am way overdue for a medication evaluation since I haven’t had one since my first year of being on this antidepressant–and I have been on it around 4 years or more now.
        Take care!

  • August 19, 2018 at 12:40 am

    Great article! The second one is an especially difficult barrier because moving out of homeostasis takes time and the changes are gradual. They are so gradual that we may not even be able to tell that changes are happening. So, it feels like everything is staying the same, and that we’re not actually making progress. This is especially true if we run into issues from our past that seem like a confirmation that no progress was made, even if the progress was substantial. But if we’re able to stay the course, the small steps will eventually turn into many miles. And then, we can look back and see how far we’ve come. But we have to stay the course, even when there’s no clear road-signs or confirmations that we’re on the right track. That’s why I think talking to a psychologist is such a positive things, because they can really help people stay the course and get a sense of their progress among other things.

    • August 21, 2018 at 10:53 am

      Hi Emerald,
      Thanks so much! Glad you liked it.
      I agree that changes are so gradual that we may not be able to detect them. I see a lot of this in my practice with individuals (most often children and teens) struggling with post-traumatic stress or compassion fatigue. It’s a gradual incline to worsening health. I think it’s mainly because a lot of people are out of tune with their own bodies, preoccupied, and overly busy. The other cause may be, as you put it, the process of healing from trauma one step at a time.
      Thanks for your input

  • August 22, 2018 at 7:06 am

    Its not just women who have suffered abuse at the hands of their care givers you know that dont you..?

    • September 5, 2018 at 6:53 am

      That thought crossed my mind as well.

  • August 22, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Hello and thank you for this information.

    I hid from my grandfather from age 10-16 emotionally and physically. He told me what to do with him and because he was my grandfather I did it all! Then I hid my story for 40 years from everyone. i got very good at covering up and hiding as you can imagine. Luckily I found a therapist who was kind and compassionate. After several years of seeing her she recommended EMDR and that worked for me. It put the experiences in a place that I could manage.

    #MeToo has given me the freedom to share with people close to me my experience and the outcome. I never knew this behavior was prevalent to such a huge number of men and women. This is helpful for me as I thought, all this time, I was only one of a few.

    I appreciate your articles. I find them all helpful

    Jane G.

  • August 22, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Thank you for being honest about with incorrect expectations of therapy. I have dropped out of therapy because I felt it was not helping me at all especially since it was not changing the toxic environment at my workplace and it is tough trying to leave the workplace when there are not a lot of job opportunities to make it easy for me to leave.

    • August 29, 2018 at 7:31 am

      Hi Gunther,
      Thanks for your comment. I think more therapists should be honest about psychotherapy. It isn’t for everyone and a lot of people in the field could be better trained, more compassionate, and less burned out!
      Sadly, some therapists work from a theoretical basis and may encourage clients to do things that are “unrealistic” to them or not easy to do. This can cause ripples and lead to clients dropping out, as you did.
      Perhaps you will revisit it at a later time and find someone who can truly help.
      Take care

  • August 22, 2018 at 10:50 am

    my therapy has been beneficial esp learning & memorizing the 15 DISTORTED THINKING patterns. When I find myself anxious I try to see WHICH one Im unconsciously doing. . . then in my journaling…I slowly detangle my thoughts & face my faulty expectations of someone or something.

    its been successful in changing my anxiety & tendecies to be negative…

  • August 22, 2018 at 11:43 am

    A very good article, however I thought the title was somewhat misleading. I thought it should have read something like, 7 strategies for victims/clients when they are stuck in trauma therapy. The explanation and suggestions are excellent. I am a mental health clinician with my own childhood trauma as well as work trauma, and help others with their trauma. I am midlife and had thought I had dealt with my traumas, however find that trauma and cumulative trauma can be triggered and it is not always clear why I had an overwhelming reaction to a minor event or less personal event. It can be quite confusing. It can also be difficult to know when trauma work is done. I can talk about events and process them yet still have these surprising overwhelming reactions that catch me out of the blue and leave me scratching my head and trying to figure out what is wrong. I am hoping you can comment and shed some light on this. Thanks.

    • September 9, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      THIS! You described what I experience perfectly. I’m at the point where I don’t think *I* will ever be “recovered”. I’ll always be working on managing the symptoms and trying to prevent a C-PTSD meltdown. It’s a hard, bitter pill to swallow….. but what are the alternatives? <~~~More of a rhetorical question but I'm not opposed to input.

      • September 25, 2018 at 12:31 pm

        Hi Shelley,,
        Thank you for your comment.
        Good question and I’m not sure I have the answer. Perhaps seeing this from a different perspective may be helpful. Some people have to manage a lot of conditions in this life, especially those with medical or mental health conditions. At some point in our lives, we will all have to learn to cope with something we don’t want or tend to struggle a lot with. For you, this is C-PTSD. There will be moments where you will not notice it at all, and moments when you will. It’s a cycle that requires you (and many others) to “roll” with what comes, while refusing to give in to it.
        Take good care

  • August 22, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Hello Tamara,

    Thank you for your article. I’m in my 68th year and not a single year of my life has been lived without abuse and traumas. This realization occurred to me only a year or two ago.
    I was systematically abused by my alcoholic dad throughout childhood and at age nine I was almost raped by an older cousin. My first husband was an alcoholic and thank goodness I got out of the marriage after four years. My second husband whom I divorced for cruelty and adultery was slowly but surely strangling the life out of me until I could take no more. In my now marriage I have been subjected to a life of abuse on all levels and assaulted many times.

    I had no family or friends to turn to for help, and what was even worse, was that I didn’t know that I was being abused. Three years ago I was diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety and major depressions. I know this is a result of being abused over and over again without any help or loving support from anyone, and also, being further abused by so called friends whom I dared to tell thinking that they would at least give me some support but instead I discovered that not only were they there for me but, they blamed me.

    I’ve been on three medicines for nearly three years now to treat the symptoms of PTSD and though they have improved some of the nasty symptoms of the condition, and I’m so thankful, but I know that not one bit of me has healed. Truthfully, and without sounding as though I’m some self-pitying person, I have had a horrible life and If I’d been given the chance to heal from the traumas of my childhood, I’m quite sure I would have been a different person and probably would have avoided the repetative cycle of abuse. \

    Strange as it may seem, I didn’t choose the men I met rather, they choose me and courted me like gentlemen. Oh how I didn’t know what was in front of me and neither did I have the skills to recognize abuse. I do now but it’s a life time too late for me because the damage is well and truly done.

    • August 25, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      Sylvia l have a story much like yours and am ,68 too. Don’t think it is too late to heal. This past year has been outstanding for me but at the same time even more painful as much truth is coming out regarding the abuse from my second husband and the way he alienated my kids. I have however discovered the whole food plant based diet and it is turning the clock back for me. I feel that l can still have a life now and probably help other alienated parents. Thinking of you xx

    • August 29, 2018 at 7:29 am

      Hi Sylvia,
      Thank you for the kind comment. And Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear that you are still going through relational abuse.

      It sounds to me as if you have experienced the negative effects of intergenerational trauma. I talk about this on my Youtube channel. You can find that in my bio at the end of the article. In counseling individuals who have experienced repeat trauma, I find that many of them make the same decisions but with different people. They are unaware of the patterns that they have set in their lives and sadly, have become “slaves” to. The patterns or repetitive behaviors are the results of lack of personal awareness, unresolved trauma, and multiple attempts to fill a void with the wrong things.
      It’s a very tiring and emotionally draining existence and a lot of people just give up and stay where they are at because they’re too tired to make any changes. Or, like you, the damage has been done so what’s the use in doing anything about it?
      If you haven’t considered therapy, that might be helpful. Just someone to talk to or process things with. It can be helpful if you find the right one.
      Take good care

      • September 10, 2018 at 5:08 am

        Hello Tamara, and thank you for your response to my posting which is duly noted, your input in invaluable. After I read the posting I looked up ‘lack of personal awareness.’ I am rather confused though because, I do not fit with the description given, although, and not surprisingly, my two ex-husbands and my present husband fits right into that category.

        Certainly, over the decades I have become very aware that I do have some kind of repetitive disorder, and, I do think it has been related to having absolutely no awareness whatsoever of having been systematically abused from infancy and all the way throughout my childhood into adulthood, when I ended up with partners whom each had/has disorders of their own. Husband number one was and still is an alcoholic who remarried a good woman and he has made her life and absolute hell on earth. Number two was so insanely possessive, paranoid and jealous that he would lock me and my son in the house when he worked away from home plus he had affairs all over the place. Today, I live with a husband who seems, I suspect, may have a B class personality disorder. All three husbands were/are pathological liars, users, adulterers, jealous, possessive and selfish to the core. As long as I had no real sense of my own needs, along with my care taking and people pleasing ways and their needs were met, all was good.

        I was totally unaware that I was a ‘model people pleaser,’ and totally unselfish… I’d give anyone a hand and the shirt off my back because I care deeply about the suffering of others, including all the animals, but unfortunately because of a life time growing up being labelled as bad, worthless, useless, unlovable, repeatedly invalidated and told I was a detestable little thing and that I would amount to nothing in life… I was brainwashed into believing that I was fundamentally flawed as a human being. I was not valued for the person that I am. I had little confidence, or self esteem also, I did not have a clear awareness of Who I Really Am. All I ever wanted was to love and be loved and to have what I hoped was a loving husband and children. Of course, now I know that I having been trying to invent a loving family of my own, something I didn’t have growing up yet, I hadn’t even the smallest chance of choosing a suitable partner. So hence, I ventured into the big world alone and confused. All three of my husbands had no personal awareness or boundaries, and I whose boundaries had been abused from day one, let others continue to violate mine because of a total lack of awareness. In my state of ignorance I didn’t know that I deserved so much better.

        It’s been a life long journey for me in learning many painful, yet valuable lessons about the abusers in this world and the dynamics of abuse and the sorry affects that it has on their children which gives all the wrong messages. I’ll bet that there are millions upon millions of people whom just like me, were abused to the degree that their interpersonal relationships have been one huge struggle for them. Every child is precious and deserves to be loved, nurtured, valued and accepted for the little gems that they are. If only that were true. Oh, what a crazy world we live in.

        Tamara, once again thank you so much for your input which is invaluable. You are one of life little gems. Bless you.

      • September 25, 2018 at 12:36 pm

        Hi Sylvia,
        Thanks so much for your touching comment. I’m humbled by your comment.
        I’m sorry I missed this comment and am now just getting back to you. But I think your journey says a lot about what is called post traumatic growth. You have gone through some difficult places in your life but somehow have grown and matured from the experience. After years of traumatic bonding, one of my clients found himself feeling just like you (and many others) about the world we live in. I have a video where I discuss post traumatic growth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ebt_hlgC0g.

        You may also like to read a book called “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl. It’s a story of a man’s painful journey, but also of his healing.

        God bless you too 🙂

  • August 22, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Biggest and worstest of the left-overs of trauma is continuing dissociation (though it lasts not so long), when under socio/emotional stress. If i were to be free of this, and could adequately speak my mind in a public forum, I would consider myself CURED.

    • August 29, 2018 at 7:19 am

      Hi Elaine,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I agree. You may have overcome many of the others barriers to your psychological health but the dissociation is so unpredictable and bothersome. I find it helpful to warn my clients in times of great stress that dissociation is likely to return. Tracking when it happens and having a plan on how to cope with it may be helpful to you or others on this platform.
      Take care

  • August 23, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I have many traumas that I have not healed from. I sabotage my personal goals frequently. I feel afraid of changing my patterns.
    I do not trust other people. I have a good relationship with my husband, but that is it.

    I have no friends. I am lonely, but whenever I attempt to perhaps meet someone and develop a friendship, I get sick. I become incredibly nauseated.

    I don’t trust people, I am constantly afraid in social situations, I fucking hate my father.

    • August 29, 2018 at 7:16 am

      Hi Joanna,
      I’m sorry to hear this. It sounds like this has been more than a traumatizing experience for you. It sounds like it has been life-altering. I’m not sure if you have considered counseling but you may find it helpful to locate a local support group for daughters of fathers who are unfit parents. You can probably locate something like that with a quck Google search or by contacting the National Alliance On Mental Illness and looking for a chapter in your area. A lot of my clients do this and it seems helpful.
      I wish you well

  • September 3, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Can we look at changing the word toxic please? Surely what you call toxic people are just other people who are equally traumatised and acting out their own traumas by hurting others in order to survive and protect themselves. Can’t think of an alternative at the moment but do you see where I’m coming from?

    • September 3, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Helen,
      Is there something about the word that bothers you? Do you personalize it? While I understand your view, it undermines the purpose of the bullet point. We can’t explain all unhealthy people within the confines of your definition of “toxic.” Not every “toxic” person is a hurt person using defense mechanisms. Some are naturally toxic.

      Take care

  • September 9, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    There is another outcome that seems to go on and on. I wonder if others experience this 60 years later…I don’t trust people. For the most part I do not sense *clean feelings* coming from others…I often sense ulterior motives. I’m sad that I have little or no family. It is like love is a falsehood, a bust. Not just me, but everybody is screwed up in one way or another.


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