Stuck in trauma cycle? Come on to the healing cycle!
Everything in life is cyclical, life itself is a continuous cycle.So is healing work. You are in it, I see. Why else would you have clicked on such a title as “Stuck in trauma cycle? Come on over to the healing cycle!”
“The agitations you feel physically or mentally — they’re not obstacles but rather messengers urging you to shift.”
Why should you listen to me, you ask.
I am a fellow human being who was stuck in a trauma cycle for decades! And I sure thought that I was in a healing cycle. Oh, we don’t need to draw a line in the sand for this but I believe that reflecting on the difference may help you recognise your own attitude towards your “healing journey”.
I dedicated more than a decade of my career to helping others deal with their pain. I considered myself a pain specialist, until I started hurting in my own heart. In fact, I noticed a vast emptiness in my heart one day. What the hell am I doing with my life? I’ve been building the life I thought I wanted but I was so far away from myself. And it hurt. My journey back to myself took years. But I got there. It was messy and felt hard at times but it was glorious when I finally met myself. When I finally stopped trying to numb my pain, I walked towards my pain. I couldn’t fight myself any more so I leaned in.
The cue your body is giving, the nudge when it comes, don’t look away.
It’s your chance to break the trauma cycle.
Here is what I found about the trauma cycle:
Each of us is born into a complex web of inter-human relationships. A caretaker (often your mother or father, or surrogate parent) who loves us endlessly but is a human. She might be working too much; might be mentally or physically unwell; might be worried or overwhelmed. She might be stressed because she compares herself to others, or numbing herself because she feels unloved and unwanted, just the way you have been. Often well-meaning, but human all the same. She is unable to provide unconditional love to you because she had never received it herself.
Our caretakers’ limitations end up making us feel that we are not good enough to receive the love we seek so desperately. When we are not received fully by our caretaker, our little brains conclude that it is because of “who we are” that we are not loved. Because our brains can only perceive the world in a self-centred way.
We take on roles in order to compensate for this. In my own case, I became a “good girl” because I thought I was “bad”. This of course was not in my consciousness in my childhood. But I powerfully lived the life of a good girl. I made no fuss, no demands, no trouble for my parents. I took lots of responsibilities as a child. And I smashed it! There are many other ways to compensate, such as being the clown, the caretaker, the peacemaker, the rebel (defiance attracting the attention of the caregivers), and the scapegoat.
Playing those roles of the caretaker and the good girl naturally exhausted me. I was a child, after all! So I did naughty things in secret. I thought if I don’t have to bother my parents to provide me with something extra to what I was given, it’s a win-win situation. Being a good girl all the time is not “normal” for a child. A child should be provided with opportunities to express her needs and desires so that she can learn about what she wants and how she needs to negotiate with the world in order to obtain them.
Being a good girl ensured that I was loved in the way my parents were able to, but later on in my life, I struggled dearly with addictions which gave me a strong sense of “freedom” and “rewards”. Through the years of struggle with my addiction, I grew so impatient with myself and hated myself for this so much. Every time I attempted to “quit” my addiction, I was eager to “get rid of my sabotage self”. It didn’t work. This was when I was trapped in a trauma cycle. I couldn’t get rid of a part of myself! I needed to learn to love her. LOVE HER?!
Playing roles like this means that we abandon our own intuitions and needs in order to secure love. We learn that in order to obtain love, we must forego our own needs. This happens automatically. We powerfully live our stories that it’s selfish to look after oneself, love means to sacrifice one’s needs, to love is to abandon oneself. We love the way our caretakers did.
This creates self sacrifice and self abandonment: we work too much, we stop taking care of ourselves, we ignore our own boundaries, we keep going. Going where? To self abandonment, in the name of love. Then we find ourselves needing to compensate ourselves by eating too much, eating the wrong things, taking substances, staying online for hours, sleeping too much, gambling, too much sex, too much exercises, addictions of all types, we numb ourselves, in the name of Self love. “I deserve to have a break” used to be my own story and comfort.
Then, the body starts talking to us. Aches and pains, discomfort of all kinds, pain at every corner from migraines to period pain; from joint pains to abdominal pain during a visit to the toliet. We either go on to fix those problems or we go on to listen to our body. Many of us go and find a way to fix it so that we can go back to doing what we were doing: living inauthentic lives coping without thriving. But we manage, so all is well.
Until we cannot; then it isn’t.
Quick fixes that used to do the trick don’t work any more. The painkillers are not working any more. Changing the city we live in doesn’t change our moods enough. Getting a haircut, buying a new outfit, a house, a horse even doesn’t fix it. Now it’s the hormones. Something is seriously wrong with me. I am broken. I knew it all along!
“Your body is a manifestation of your consciousness.”
Your body is aching because the spirit that your body is carrying is not at ease, not joyous. And your consciousness is full of those stories that make you contract: I should be doing that, I shouldn’t be doing this, I am broken, I am unvalued, I am better than them, they are better than me, I shouldn’t have done this, I should have done that, they shouldn’t have done that… How could your body feel at ease with thoughts like these filling up the head?
The journey back home is not easy! But it’s the most beautiful journey in the world. Because once you find your way back home to yourself, your true self – not the characters you played, not your patterns – you earn the whole world. The eyes through which you see the world are clear, so you can see the world as it is rather than through the filters of your trauma and hurt; you experience the world with wonder and curiosity rather than with jaded perspectives.
Your body is aching, how else can it call you back home to yourself?
Your intention to listen to your body is the first step towards the healing journey. There is so much wisdom within your body, I invite you to lean into it.
Once your intention is set, that you want to listen to your body, then seek practitioners who understand the language your body is using to call for help. Your hurts come from human relationships, you will need other human relationships to help you heal your wounded heart.
May you find the path back to yourself & Meet the light within.
Your fellow traveller and shepherd of “Journey back home”,
Chinese Medicine & Compassionate Inquiry