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And like the moon, we must go through phases of emptiness to feel full again.

Willow H. GrimmJul 20, 2019, 8:45:32 PM

April of 2019 at age 28 I realized I have been suffering from symptoms of PTSD since I was a young child. so I turned to my friends for support during this tumultuous time in my life & throughout conversations with my close friends I've come to notice a large number of them have experienced traumatic events in their past, specifically their childhoods. The trauma can consist of either normal events that lack the proper support needed to heal or maltreatment which varies from verbal abuse, emotional manipulation/neglect & physical neglect to more severe types of abuse such as domestic violence, physical abuse, & sexual abuse.

One common result of these experiences I've noticed my friends & I deal with has been a deep seated feeling of unworthiness & distrust of the self's ability to achieve or even envision desires. Self esteem, self discipline and willpower are still concepts I struggle with in my day to day life. I struggle to take care of my body, to maintain a routine, or bring a plan to fruition. I see it manifest in other people when they struggle to get up each morning , to start that project, learn a new skill, or just simply to get through the day without destroying what connections they have with other people.

How are these concepts corrupted by unresolved trauma? In this book, "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D.*, the author talks about how unresolved trauma can reside in & disrupt the mind which in turn affect the bodies ability to function properly. one explanation for the feelings of unworthiness and distrust of the self, Bessel provides is that when a child is young & being mistreated, it is common for the child brain to make the assumption that there is something wrong with themselves rather than the caretaker, allowing the child to still develop a bond with a caretaker.

I ask myself every day " why do so many including myself suffer from this feeling of unworthiness?" While too many have suffered severe abuse and maltreatment, I believe this feeling can be groomed even in a well off, stable home with children who have very low adverse childhood experiences(ACE Score). How many of you reading this have heard these phrases from an authority/parental figure?

1. "Here's a dime kid...go call someone who cares."

2. "Because I said so."

3. "Stop crying before I give you something to cry about!"

4. "I'll wash your mouth out with soap."

5. "When I was your age - I had to walk (10+++) miles to school....."

6. "This hurts me more than it hurts you."

7. "I brought you into this world and I'll just as soon take you out!"

8. "Put a sock in it "

9. "Wipe that smile off your face or I'm gonna wipe it off for you."

10. "Don't you make me pull this car over...."

These are common phrases uttered when authority/parental figures do not wish, or do not have an answer that will satisfy children's curiosity & want the undesirable behavior to cease. While it gets the immediate result the authority figure desires, it simultaneously teaches children that they cannot make informed decisions for themselves, nor is their curiosity a priority to the parent. Used improperly or excessively idea that a child is inherently unable to comprehend the world on their own & their curiosity belittled, the experiences reinforce the conclusion that the child is unworthy of the time and attention they desire at that time. Over time this conclusion becomes an unresolved experience in the psyche presenting itself over and over as an internal contradiction which will eventually be externalized by way of illness, or inability to maintain health connections with other people. Children who believe they are unworthy & distrust themselves grow up to be unsatisfied & anxiety ridden adults.

As adults we often repeat these things to ourselves in moments we would be better served being kind & compassionate. In those moments we are speaking to parts of ourselves, the parts of us that do their best to keep us going day after day. If we approach these parts with curiosity, it's astounding the information they give us, in turn facilitating compassion, honesty, & healing.

* click no thanks at the bottom of the Dropbox popup to access the full book.