Meaning Making

Question

I didn’t know I lived with trauma until I started therapy...now I can’t help but minimize it?

Answer

We received many questions about trauma processing and identity. Let’s talk about this in two parts with the help of a PhD prepared mental health nurse and sexual assault nurse examiner from @ourwavestories. We will start with talking about coming to terms with trauma as it relates to our identity, and then we will talk about integrating it into our identity. Everyone experiences and internalizes trauma differently. In fact, the way trauma is integrated into our identities may change throughout our healing journey. This is the way we rationalize and cope with our experiences. One way you may respond to your trauma is to suppress it or deny it completely. You may not even realize you experienced abuse until months or years later. This can be brought to your awareness through working with a therapist, talking with a friend, or anything else that can trigger a memory. A similar way your body can cope is to disconnect from your trauma. Some people refer to this as “putting your trauma in a box” because it is just too painful to address at the moment or because you do not want it to be a part of your identity. Especially in the beginning, this is your body’s way of protecting itself. Another way you can respond to your trauma is to minimize it. This can also be protective at first, but continuing to minimize your trauma may cause you to blame yourself for your feelings and may not allow you to adequately get the help you need. Minimization can occur by comparing our experiences to others and feeling that ours are not “bad enough.” You may also feel that you are “not allowed” to be as upset as you actually are or that you are being “dramatic." Remember everyone’s trauma experiences are valid, no matter what events are experienced.

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