You ever have a day when things are going great, you’re feeling happy (excited even), outgoing and connected to your friends, grateful for all the good happening in your life and then all of a sudden a part of you says “STOP!! Remember when you felt happy before and then everything went wrong?” So you pull back from the happiness and the gratitude and instead choose to feel nothing. These intrusive thoughts and memories can stop you from living the life you desire. The childhood memories of being alone, hungry, hurt, bullied…those memories pop up at just the wrong time and seem to transport you back into your child body and the feelings of sadness, fear, confusion, and shame take over. Now before you know it you are going down a rabbit hole of thoughts about all the things that could possibly go wrong and why you shouldn’t be feeling happy anyway. You may be thinking that those experiences you had today were not even real, those people really didn’t want to hang out with you and they were lying when they said they liked spending time with you. Then there are those parts of your childhood where you don’t remember. It may feel like you repressed a lot of things because there are just bits and pieces of memories and it's hard to put them together. Now you wonder, “Did something happen to me when I was younger? Why can’t I remember?”
The numbness stops you from connecting with the people in your life. It is affecting how you engage with your children, friends, and other family members. This numbness may also be a fear of having people get too close. Because, when people get too close, you get hurt. You may even find yourself avoiding certain people all together because you don't want to feel the feelings that being in their presence sparks, the anger, the hurt, the guilt.
Then there is the internal conflict that comes up…it's like fighting against yourself and you don't know how to trust yourself. You second guess everything you do and put off making the decisions until you have no choice but to do it. There are times when you don't even feel like yourself, the voice in your head doesn't even belong to you, it's the voice of all those people who have been trying to control you for so long…and you just want to be free!
This is trauma! I know that we as Black people have this resilience that makes us struggle to acknowledge that we have been traumatized, but we have to call a thing a thing. Post traumatic stress is when after witnessing, experiencing, having knowledge of a threatening event it continues to have an impact on you. The impact could be intrusive thoughts, those random thoughts that seem to pop up reminding you of the past. That feeling of being “on edge” and always wondering, maybe even dreading what will happen next. It could also be the desire to avoid things, people, places, that spark those memories. The symptoms of trauma are numerous and include:
“Being exposed to a traumatic event involving actual or perceived threat of death or serious harm.
Response of intense fear, helplessness, or horror to the traumatic event.
Reliving the event, through flashbacks.
Intentionally avoiding activities, places, people, objects that evoke memories of the event.
Difficulty concentrating and feelings of guilt.”
Counseling focused on trauma therapy and repressed memory therapy can ease some of this discomfort.
A 2019 study found that 7 out of 10 adults in Michigan have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences. I imagine these numbers may be higher in areas like Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Flint were there are fewer resources.These adverse experiences include household dysfunction, being abused/neglected, witnessing violence, and much more. Here is a short video detailing ACEs and how they impact us in our adult lives. (Trigger Warning: this video discusses sexual abuse, domestic violence, and topics related to trauma)
Starting counseling can be a difficult choice. After all, being well is not an easy thing. It is a sacrifice to let go of the old and welcome the newness of life. The old sometimes feels comfortable and there may be resistance to making these changes, even when you know that they will help improve your life. Talking about and processing those experiences, trauma, hurt, and neglect can help you to shift your reality and feel more empowered in life.
ychological and emotional safety is important and one of the grounding tools we use in processing trauma in trauma therapy. Prior to unpacking the events of the past we spend time identifying what safety means to you and recognizing what safety feels like. The interventions I use are focused on inner child healing which helps to integrate those parts of you that seem constantly on edge, hypervigilant, and may be stuck in the past. I use EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) which is a great tool in repressed memory therapy and to process trauma when speaking the words get overwhelming. I encourage a holistic approach to healing and welcome the integration of traditional and indigenous healing practices, or cultural and spiritual practices into the therapeutic journey as well.
“It's scary, I’m afraid what will happen if I let it all out.” This is a very real concern for many people. You may think that once you start to open up about your feelings and the past that you will not be able to contain the emotions and that you won't know how to cope. I acknowledge that the journey will at times be tough, you may be just starting to truly feel and experience your emotions. This is why we start counseling creating the foundation of safety before getting too deep. We also develop and strengthen your coping skills to ensure that you go into this process with all the tools you will need to manage whatever comes up as we engage in trauma therapy .
“What happens in this house, stays in this house.” This African American Proverb no longer serves us. We have to tell our stories and recreate narratives of healing and freedom. You may experience guilt, shame, blame which makes it difficult to tell your story. There may also be some uncertainty there, you may not even be sure what you think happened, happened. Living in invalidating environments makes it difficult to trust yourself, your reality, and your experiences. You can work through the uncertainty with repressed memory therapy and learn to trust and validate yourself and your experience. Even if others deny the experience or don't remember it the way that you do, it does not mean that you are wrong. Two things can be true at the same time, while others validation and acknowledgement feels good, it's not necessary for your healing. It's time for you to choose you!
If you are ready to start your healing journey, you can book a session or a phone consultation. I see clients virtually in Detroit, Ypsilanti, Flint and throughout Michigan.