What Childhood Trauma Recovery Actually Looks Like vs. What We Think it Should Look Like.
Hi Love! I'm Morgan and I'm a childhood trauma survivor, certified trauma-informed coach, and the creator of Rising Warrior Collective, a safe community for survivors of childhood trauma to begin healing. If you're ready to take your healing to the next level, let's connect and talk about what it looks like to work 1:1.
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As much as I would love to say that your trauma recovery journey is linear, like a sprinter dashing off in a straight path to cross the finish line, this is not how trauma recovery works. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of this. If we can begin to understand and recognize that trauma recovery is actually messy, and often chaotic (before it gets better), with slips and backslides, we can then have more awareness and self-compassion for the journey. No matter the moments that feel like you are going backwards, or facing what you think are insurmountable challenges, once you allow for this awareness and self-compassion, you’ll innately begin to feel the progress. You’ll know that you are healing. You become the witness to your own growth and expansion.
The magic lies in realizing that healing is fluid, and if we can adjust our expectations of perfection to more of an understanding and acceptance that we WILL fall down at times (because it’s not only normal but inevitable), everything becomes more doable and achievable. We soften the process and in turn become gentler and more accepting of ourselves.
When I started my healing journey 8 years ago, I was unaware of just how impactful my perfectionism mindset and harsh inner critic would be. While at first, I felt a sense of relief because I was finally able to connect the dots between what happened and how it was impacting my adult life. The struggle came when I realized, knowledge did not necessarily equal quick change for a developmental trauma survivor.
My old patterns showed up as beliefs that if I just worked hard enough and fast enough, I would be healed. If I could be the overachiever I’d always been, striving and reaching for perfectionism, I would be healed. And guess what? None of this worked. This mindset was formed in childhood and it was used as protection armor against the trauma I was experiencing. I had incredibly high expectations of myself as an adult, due to these childhood beliefs, and at the forefront was the expectation that if I could simply acknowledge and identify a pattern, I would be able to correct it, and move forward. And be done.
What happened instead, was that these high expectations got in the way of my healing. I essentially just threw myself out there to “fail,” because when I did fall backwards, or didn’t show up in the way I thought I “should,” I would beat myself up and become my own worst enemy for not “succeeding.” At every turn my inner critical parent was there, telling me how wrong I was in every scenario where I was striving to make real change.
Slowly, (very slowly), I began to realize that I was the one thing holding me back, I was getting in my own way.
This was no way to heal. I couldn’t truly begin down a healing path if I continued to utilize the same patterns and beliefs I had had as a child. I had to do things differently, releasing my protective armor, and most importantly, finding my way back to myself, in a vastly different way. If you are early on in your process of healing your trauma, and you recognize similar patterns of a critical inner parent showing up, it might be time to check in around the expectations that you’re placing on yourself too.
So, let me say this again. Healing from trauma is fluid and messy. Healing happens when you align your expectations with the understanding that you will never be able to get it perfect. This is the more gentle, loving, and realistic response to healing from decades of neglect. What we are healing from is deeply challenging. Most of us have been carrying our wounds for years and even decades. This means it is going to take some time to heal those wounds. It’s ok to be gentle, caring, and understanding towards yourself. In fact, it’s necessary.
Don’t think you won’t slip up, because you will. And just because you do, it doesn’t mean you aren’t progressing. You are. You are evolving and growing, allowing for the messiness is part of the process. While trauma recovery helps us to connect the dots and identify our patterns, the real work is then going out into the world and putting all we have learned into practice. There will be ebbs and flows and ups and downs to this entire journey. Allow yourself to go at your own pace and with each experience you will have an opportunity to see how far you have come.
If you are looking for additional support on how to start and/or navigate your healing journey, I would love to chat with you further. Let’s build a strong mental health community together, raising awareness and support with resources, compassion, and understanding.
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You never know how one conversation could shift the direction of your life.
Lots of love ~ Morgan
August 8, 2022