How to deal with childhood trauma
Right now, we are in the midst of a shared human experience on the planet. Uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, and fear pervade as sadness and grief well up for what we have watched slip by right before our eyes. We feel in our bodies more than we can name with our minds.
Trust in what was supposed to keep us safe has faded, trust in the world as a safe place has evaporated. And it’s difficult to call upon our loved ones to care for us when they are experiencing their own instabilities and struggles.
It has been a long haul. The stress now is chronic, which may remind our nervous system of times long ago when we experienced similar powerlessness, unsafety, uncertainty, and loneliness. For many, this time is an echo call to our child parts—an adult parallel equivalent to our internal childhood experience showing up as adult trauma.
Your emotional child.
Your child is different than my child. But, we both have little ones living inside that had to learn how to adapt and cope with an unsafe world. A world that didn’t meet our needs and abandoned us in our distress.
That world was too much to make sense of in a child’s mind. It’s a world that we couldn’t fix, fight or run away from. This world left us feeling powerless, inadequate, and alone, adding to the understanding that our earlier experiences may shape our trauma response more than we initially supposed. Though we may have done our fair share of child work, we may regress into unhealed parts from childhood experiences we haven’t encountered in “normal” life.
As current events exacerbate the possibility of losing aging parents, we may start to remember feelings that feel both young and old. It’s within this flood of emotion that we have the opportunity to heal our child parts.
Our emotions surface to be seen and healed.
Imagine these emotions as sediment stirred from your water that needs sifting. It makes the water cloudy as the particles float through what once appeared clear. We may have lost sight of them lying underneath the current as we built them into our ecosystem. But they were there all along. If these particles are resurfacing, it means it is time to clear them out. Because now, we have the time and space and are equipped to do the work.
Be a compassionate healer to yourself.
As we work through these rising emotions, the greatest gift we have is compassion. We must remember to be compassionate for our big selves and our small selves for us and those we love.
Self-compassion allows us to see, hold, and accept ourselves with loving care, which is all we ever needed anyway. And compassion is what the world needs now more than ever.
Our personal healing is our collective healing.
Personal healing is the power we have when we have no power over anything else. We didn’t know that as children. But we know it now, and now is what we’ve got. And though the truth is that now is all we’ve ever had, it’s much more resonant in these times.
The gift of healing the wounded child and all the work it entails is to reclaim the divine child, an innocent child. A child full of joy, hope, wonder, curiosity, imagination, generosity, play, beauty, acceptance, and trust. And to reclaim all of the parts we lost before life happened to us.
The world, our community, our loved ones need us to do this healing work now more than ever in whatever form it takes. It is a call waiting to be answered. It matters. You matter.