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  • Kennedy McLean

My Past Is Haunting Me

Surprised when the problems from your childhood show up in your adult life? You know you had a rough childhood, but you've never been sure what qualifies as trauma. Over the years, you've told yourself different stories; others had it worse, it was a long time ago, it's all in the past. Until now, you have been able to function, to compartmentalize.


You've wondered at times if your childhood would prevent you from being happy. You've worried that potential partners would judge you if they knew about your past, or even that your professional life would be affected if people knew the real you.


What does it mean to have unresolved trauma? Don’t people just move on, get on with their lives? You did, or at least you thought you had. You feel like it is such a cliche to blame your problems on your childhood.


Lately, you feel anxious, depressed, panicked and want to withdraw. If it is "unresolved" childhood trauma seeping into your adult life, why now? You've been able to block it out for so long, what has changed? If you accept that where you are today is connected to your past, you still don’t know how to heal or where to start.


Explaining what it means to have unresolved trauma is complicated and might be confusing to accept if you have undergone therapy in the past and thought you dealt with your problems. This is a brief summary:


When trauma is experienced, especially in childhood, the memories are not always conscious but they affect every area of life. The ability to depend on others, sense of safety, relationships with others, self-esteem, and worldview are affected. It is common for children who have experienced trauma to have difficulty depending on others or asking for help, becoming reliant only on themselves. Children suppress these early life experiences and live in “survival mode." This may last for months or years but eventually, this starts to break down. An event occurs that acts as a reminder of earlier trauma or there may be a series of smaller stressors that build and eventually are too overwhelming.


Symptoms or behaviours may begin to appear that were not present before. This is a signal from your mind and body that it is overwhelmed and the defence mechanisms that you have been using are no longer working. As you begin to gain insight into yourself in therapy, you also may realize certain patterns of behaviour that were present all along that you never attributed to trauma (for example engaging in certain relationships that remind you traumatic past relationships).


To work through unresolved trauma you must first understand how these traumatic experiences are alive in the present. Each person is unique and will have their own lived experiences and so there is no “formula” for working through this. That is why it is crucial to find a therapist who specializes in trauma. Until you’ve had help working how your past is alive in the present, your childhood trauma can remain “unresolved.”


It is not easy work but it is possible to recover from trauma. To book a session or a free 15-minute consultation go to kennedymclean.janeapp.com

About Kennedy

I have been working in the field of addiction and mental health for almost 10 years. I am currently a therapist in private practice in Etobicoke, just outside of Toronto. 

As a therapist, I am trained to help people with all kinds of issues stress, depression, anxiety, and grief for example.

I also specialize in working with people of all ages who have experienced trauma.

Anything written in my blog posts is my own thoughts. They are intended to offer information that may be interesting or useful for contemplation.

 

Nothing I have written is intended to be a substitute for seeking professional help.

-Kennedy McLean

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