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  • Writer's pictureDana Arcuri

Do You Have Unhealed Trauma?

Updated: May 4

You might not realize you're suffering from unhealed trauma. For many abuse survivors, during a traumatic experience their body shuts down. They may dissociate. They could disconnect to themselves. Your brain and body are trying to protect you. In addition, your body may have a normal trauma response by being in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.

When you have a trauma response, your body is flooded by cortisol, adrenalin, and other hormones. Simply stated, you don't feel safe.

"The single most important issue for traumatized people is to find a sense of safety in their own bodies." ~ Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score

Unhealed trauma can be buried, overlooked, or minimized. Many abuse survivors can spend decades completely unaware of their own unhealed trauma. They are the walking wounded.

Despite a lack of awareness or by choosing to not deal with their trauma, the survivors may experience ongoing decades of negative symptoms. Here's a common list:

  1. Triggers

  2. Flashbacks

  3. Nightmares

  4. Insomnia

  5. Brain fog

  6. Chronic pain

  7. Reliving trauma

  8. Medical conditions, including autoimmune disorders

  9. Depression

  10. Anxiety

  11. Fight, flight, freeze, and fawn

  12. Revved up Central Nervous System

  13. Complex PTSD/PTSD

  14. Panic attacks

Unhealed Trauma Can Look Like:

  • Low sense of self-worth

  • Always fearing what might happen next

  • Codependent relationships

  • Resisting positive change

  • Fear of being abandoned

  • Tolerating abusive behaviors from others

  • Difficulty standing up for yourself

  • Lack of boundaries

  • Putting your needs aside for others

  • People-pleasing

  • Feeling toxic shame or guilt

  • Craving external validation

  • Not able to cope with conflicts

  • Being overtly agreeable

  • Staying in abusive relationships

Are you stuck in survival mode? If so, the recovery goal is to get unstuck. To reconnect to yourself. To admit the truth about your traumatic experiences. To say, "Yes, the abuse did happen. Yes, it really was that bad."

Childhood trauma can lead to an adulthood spent in survival mode. You may be afraid to plant roots to rebuild your life. You may not be able to trust anyone. You may feel such hopelessness and despair that it steals your joy.

It's a blessing to shift from barely surviving to fully thriving. Is it easy? No, it requires your dedication, effort, and a commitment for your trauma recovery. However, it is worth it. There is far more to gain than to lose. You will gain your peace of mind and freedom!

Family Scapegoating

If your mother, father, caregiver, or siblings were narcissistic, there is a strong possibility that you were scapegoated by them. Oftentimes, children grow up in dysfunctional families in which they don't know what they don't know.

Scapegoating, narcissism, and gaslighting are not on your radar. Typically, we discover this much later in life.

According to the website, "Scapegoating refers to the act of blaming a person or group for something bad that has happened or that someone else has done. Scapegoating can happen to protect the image of the family or people who are favored in the family, not just the self. It is common for one person to be scapegoated, but it can happen with more than one person."

They go on to explain scapegoating by stating, "Commonplace in families with unhealthy dynamics, scapegoating tends to start in childhood when children are blamed for all of the problems in dysfunctional households. The term “scapegoat” originates from the Bible. In the book of Leviticus, the Israelites conduct a ceremony in which they direct their sins onto an 'escape goat.' Afterward, they set the goat free into the wilderness to metaphorically cleanse the wickedness from their community. The scapegoat, then, bears the burden of taking on the misdeeds of a tribe, community, or family."

If one or more of your family members are disrespectful, spiteful, jealous, manipulative, hostile, deceitful, toxic, or violent, this speaks volumes about their core traits. That is not genuine love. It is abuse. Understand this fact: Genuine love and abuse cannot coexist. Period.

Love is many things, but it is never deceitful, cruel, or abusive. Nothing toxic comes from genuine, authentic love. Remember that when you re-evaluate each of your relationships.

In a toxic family system, the black sheep is often just the person who sees through everyone else's BS. In most cases, the entire toxic family will gang up on the black sheep of the family. They will ostracize you. They will blame-shift you. They will betray you. They will stab you in the back hundreds of times. Then they will have the nerve to accuse you of being the crazy one. It's not you. It is THEM. They are the ones who are mentally unstable. They are the ones who had the motive to harm you. They are the ones who stole your family inheritance. They are the ones who lied, cheated, and tried to destroy your reputation.

Intergenerational trauma goes through one generation to the next. The abuse didn't start with you. It began centuries ago. Based on the statistics of trauma being 70% to 90% of our worldwide population, there's a strong likelihood that your ancestral bloodline is enmeshed in intergenerational trauma.

If you grew up in a toxic family, make it your legacy to break the family legacy. Your new motto: "The pain stops here. I will bravely end the cycle of abuse."

For those abuse survivors who say, "I can't leave my toxic family because of _____________ (fill in the blank), I understand why some folks stay in abusive relationships with one or more of their family members. For some, it's a cultural situation. For others, they may not have the money to relocate or move far away. In some cases, there are abuse survivors who believe that God convicted them to stay. However, even Jesus had healthy boundaries. Even Jesus called out the false pharisees. Even Jesus had the guts to speak out against evil people. I suggest you pray about it. Seek wisdom and discernment. If your life, health, and finances are threatened or in danger, by all means it is crucial that you seek legal counsel and help. Don't stay in unsafe, violent relationships. Don't think that 'praying harder, 'having more faith,' or being a 'good Christian' will change the situation.

It won't. You cannot change toxic people. You cannot force them to understand you or your side of the story. The only one who you are responsible for is yourself. The only one who you can change is yourself.

Sadly, some scapegoats and black sheep of the family remain loyal to their narcissistic parents, toxic siblings, and relatives. Even after they had been treated like a doormat. Even after child neglect and abuse. Even after their own relative maliciously sexually assaulted them. Even after their spiteful family members have repeatedly abused them.

Which leads me right back to UNHEALED TRAUMA. This is why abuse survivors are not able to recover. Because you cannot heal in unsafe environments. You can't recover in toxic dynamics. You cannot start to heal when in the midst of habitual abuse; physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, financially, and relationally.

It is not loyalty that keeps us in bad relationships. It is unhealed trauma.

I don't know about you, but life is too darn short to sit back and do nothing. Life is too short to pretend the trauma doesn't exist. Life is too short to tolerate manipulative, hateful people. Life is too short to continue to suffer and permit the abuse to continue.

Today, I pray you courageously stand up for yourself. That you would clearly see which relationships in your life are hurting you and for you to break free. That you would love yourself enough to release those who clearly don't love you, value you, nor respect you.

From every wound there is a scar. and every scar tells a story. A beautiful, remarkable story that says, "I survived."

If you need emotional support and someone to talk to, I am a survivor and a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach. It would be an honor to work with you. Feel free to reach out to me on my website messenger. Best wishes to you and your healing journey.

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