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  • Writer's pictureGavin Conochie

Recovery From Trauma

We can frame recovery in many different ways, but in the end it comes down to whether being present feels preferable to numbness, dissociation and fragmentation. This is a choice we're going to have to keep making over and over.

For some of us, this is a choice that may not feel like a choice at all. One of the defining characteristic of trauma is a feeling of helplessness or hopelessness, the sense, deep down, that we are powerless to change our experience of life, or how we feel.

At the original point of wounding, our capacity to cope was overwhelmed, along with our ability to hold on to our sense of self. It can take a lot of years to build up that capacity again; a long time in the wilderness, doggedly putting one foot in front of the other whilst trying to hold on to the faith that things can improve.

At some point, though, we’re going to look around and realise that our capacity *has* increased; that we have more resilience; that we’ve built a strong enough container in life that we can weather the ups and downs, the successes and the storms in a way that never used to seem possible.

But chances are, there are parts of us that won’t have got the memo. Those aspects that have always kept us safe through disappearing, checking out, using collusion and compliance as a means of avoiding confrontation, one’s told them that the game has changed, and so they’re still running the same old programs, behaving as though we are still that helpless child in need of protection.

This is some of the hardest stuff to work with, because it started so young that it feels foundational, it feels like who we are at some level. Deep change is more than just an attempt to tidy up the messier edges of our personality; it requires a fundamental shift in identity...and something in us will keep fighting that until we realise that our safety no longer depends on it in the way it once did.

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