Why I'm Surprised (And Comforted) My New Therapist Mentioned Trauma
Yeah, I don’t have trauma. I know trauma is not limited to soldiers and war; I know it can include abuse, rape, disasters, death, etc. But I’ve never experienced any of that.
As many know, I recently lost my therapist after her practice stopped accepting my insurance. I have been on the search for a new one since, and have had multiple intake sessions with different therapists (though unfortunately, none of them have been a good fit). But every time I meet a new one and they go through the initial intake questions, naturally, trauma is always brought up.
“Do you have any memory of trauma or have you ever experienced trauma?”
No; That was always my answer. Because it was true! I didn’t have trauma. At least, I didn’t think I did.
My most recent intake was with a therapist I finally clicked with and will be seeing regularly. There are not enough words to describe how relieved I am to have found someone I like, and who is a good fit. I truly never thought I would, after my last therapist. However, she said something at the end that really stood out. As she was summarizing her initial thoughts, everything she was saying made sense. And then she said:
“I see a lot of trauma responses. And I see a lot of emotional trauma hidden under the surface that’s coming out and engaging these negative coping mechanisms.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, but in a strange way, those words almost felt comforting. And in a stranger way, they made sense to me. They felt validating. It hasn’t been until very recently — this past year — I have finally started to see the role certain family members have played in exacerbating and triggering my depression, self-harm urges, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. My previous therapist had hinted there was some possible emotional abuse from family, but we never delved too much into it. I always believed I was 100% at fault in those relationships (because that’s what I was told). I have only very recently started to consider maybe it isn’t all my fault; maybe there’s another side to this narrative. So, hearing maybe some of my self-destructive behaviors are responses to emotional trauma, it almost takes off some of the pressure. Maybe it isn’t 100% about me not being “good enough” … maybe it’s not all on me. And I don’t say that to avoid taking responsibility — trust me, I blame myself for any and everything and often live under a thick cloud of guilt and shame. But I think I’m starting to realize there’s a lot more there than I thought.
In the end, I’m extremely grateful she brought this up. It was something I hadn’t really considered, but made a lot of sense once she said it. I don’t think about my childhood and home environment much, but finally talking about it definitely opened my eyes to why I am the way I am in some respects. I can definitely see the role it’s played (and is playing) in my eating disorder, and it’s relieving to have that insight. I know the road ahead is going to be uncomfortable and difficult as we unpack and work through this, but I also know if I don’t address it now, it’s just going to continue to get worse. So, here’s to a new journey and continuing to work toward a healthy, healed version of me.
Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash