Trauma is not a mythical mystical thing that once was or that only happens to someone else. Trauma can happen to anyone, and any chronic or significant stressor deserves the title. We as humans experience trauma in many ways: it occurs in the moment in which we stop being able to handle the experience we’re having and the emotions it brings up.
Once trauma occurs, particularly if it happens to us when we are young, it can linger well beyond what you’d expect.
What happens when you have unresolved trauma?
If you read this article title and can cast your memory back directly to something you recognize as trauma, you are likely thinking “not this again”. It’s easy to think that if we’ve done all the right things—acknowledged the trauma, gone to therapy, followed our self-care checklist, let time heal your wounds—they should stop affecting your life.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Unresolved trauma can linger in every day life in ways you may not even realize are connected to the things that once hurt you so deeply.
Here are ten ways that trauma may be running your life without you realizing it.
1. Sleep difficulties
Whether you find yourself unable to fall asleep, or frequently being woken from a nightmare or without being sure why you’re awake, you’re not getting the rest you need. On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps you’re experiencing the urge to sleep through the responsibilities that need your attention because it’s easier to just not be awake.
From constantly being prepared for danger to jumping at the mere thought of a risk that could be around the next corner, unresolved trauma may have you wound tighter than a spool of thread.
Feeling lonely even though you’re alone by choice, but you really can’t motivate yourself to reach out to anyone in order to fix it? While choosing a solo life can be a healthy choice for some, it’s never a healthy lifestyle if it doesn’t feel like one you chose for yourself.
4. Conflict Intolerance
No one actively enjoys conflict, but there might be something more to your avoidance if every raised voice or sudden gesture has you looking for the emergency exit.
Does everything feel mildly detached from reality, as if you’re observing a story being told to you? This separation from emotion and experience could be a signal that trauma is writing your life script instead of you.
6. Substance abuse or eating disorders
The urge to numb or escape the things that hurt you may combine with other risktaking behavior to culminate in a dangerous relationship with food or substances.
7. Intense emotions
Anger, anxiety and shame are often the emotions that stand out in stark contrast to your standard emotional landscape. If you feel these sharp feelings with a magnitude that far outweighs your other emotions, you may have a reactionary relationship with them.
On the flip side, perhaps you’re feeling nothing at all. No anger, no sadness, no joy. For some people, unresolved trauma leads to a sense of apathy that just feels like detachment from the world and those within it.
Experiencing unwanted returns to a time and place you’ve long since left can be a powerful indicator of trauma that’s still impacting your life. Flashbacks may occur alongside dreams, memories or other triggers but they can also occur without any warning at all.
An emotion that feels so much heavier than any five letters should be able to bear, shame is a sense of humiliation or distress attached to your experience of a memory or behaviour. When you feel shame powerfully in your life with no real root for what’s brought it on, it can color the way you make decisions and process memories.
Can childhood trauma still affect you as an adult?
Adverse childhood experiences, also called ACEs, are the events that become trauma when the world moves forward before you can process what’s occurred. For most children, that is any major event.
The things that happen to you when you are young are often ones that sink into the foundation of your being. It’s not they are more important or impactful. It’s simply that they occur at a time when you didn’t know how to be anything else; so you grew with the responses to that trauma ingrained in the way you respond to the world around you.
Just because it happened in the past doesn’t mean that it will stay there. When your unresolved trauma begins to seep into your daily life, it can be difficult to stay ahead of the sinking feeling and maintain any sort of wellbeing.
If you are struggling to overcome the impact of trauma on your daily life alongside addiction, our comprehensive programs can offer you a trauma-informed opportunity to heal more wholly than you ever thought possible.
Call us today. (760) 814-8214