Understanding Trauma & Violence
Meaning Making


How can I cope with the fact there are parts of my trauma and abuse I will never understand, know, or remember?


Thank you so much for asking this question. Many survivors navigate complex emotions, uncertainties, and gaps in their memories as they embark on their paths towards healing. This can be challenging to cope with, particularly when the effects of this trauma start to impact your daily life.

Our mind has incredible ways of protecting us from overwhelming experiences. Because of this, some aspects of trauma may be stored in areas of our subconscious as a coping mechanism. We might also intentionally suppress these experiences due to the emotions they bring up which may be beyond we can emotionally handle at that time. This is a protective mechanism and unfortuntately means your body is working the way it was designed to. Acknowledging this complexity is the first step toward embracing the unknowns without self-blame.

Despite us not always remembering the details of our trauma, our body often does remember. That could explain why despite details being foggy, you may begin to notice the impact of the trauma you experienced on your functioning and wellbeing. Engaging in therapy with a trained trauma-informed professional can provide a safe space to explore and make sense of our traumatic experiences. A skilled therapist can help uncover buried emotions and facilitate a deeper understanding of the impact of trauma on our lives. This journey may not necessarily lead to full recollection of the memories lost, but it can foster compassionate understanding and empower us to navigate life beyond the abuse we’ve experienced.

While it's natural to seek answers about the past, focusing on our present well-being is equally vital. Establishing strong support networks, practicing self-care, exploring the world with curiosity to find new things you enjoy, and engaging in activities that bring you calmness and peace can contribute to a strong foundation to support your healing. By nurturing our current selves, we empower the survivor within to face the unknowns with strength and grace.

Self-compassion is a powerful tool in the healing process. Understand that not remembering or fully understanding certain aspects of your trauma does not diminish the validity of your experience. Be gentle with yourself and allow the healing journey to unfold at its own pace. You deserve patience and kindness as you navigate the complexities of your unique path.

Acceptance is a courageous act. Embracing the fact that there may be unknowns in your trauma narrative is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your strength and journey towards self-understanding. Your journey is valid, regardless of the parts that remain unclear. Healing is an ongoing process, and every step you take is a triumph.

Coping with the unknowns of trauma recovery involves embracing the complexity of the human mind, seeking support as needed, focusing on present well-being,  and ultimately accepting and practicing self-compassion on this journey. Remember, you are not alone, and your healing is a unique and powerful narrative in itself.

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