Trauma and Codependency
Trauma and codependency…
Go hand-in-glove. Codependency is the coping mechanism you created in order to survive the trauma of being love shamed and love deprived. It is the strategy that gave you some control over situations and people that were chaotic and irrational.
You see, your codependency worked because it got you table scraps of love. Those scraps kept you alive despite never really alleviating the ongoing pain and hurt you were suffering through. They just took the edge off.
Really healing codependency involves understanding the nature of trauma and what is really happening within your mind and body.
When our mind and our body are unable to properly coordinate the discharge of the sensations and in-body energy that we felt during a traumatic event. Most often this happens because our minds and bodies disconnect from each other during the event. Our bodies go into freeze and our minds go foggy or “dissociated” from the experience, floating off into thought and even your imagination.
These are very NORMAL reactions to events that threaten our lives. When it looks like we might die, our body’s Fear Response kicks in automatically. We don’t have much say in this, by the way. It just does it and then we get to experience it. This is why you feel so out of control when it shows up. It is like puking. You don’t get a choice when the reflex starts happening.
When we are triggered…
We’re having a nervous system flashback. We are experiencing the same sensations and thoughts that were happening during the original event. This can include the sense of disconnection from your body or being foggy and unaware of what is happening. This is partly why you may have trouble recalling the memories, but feel very overwhelmed emotionally.
So how do we heal this?
First, we need to change our thinking about what healing really is. If we misunderstand what it means to heal, we will end up frustrated by the outcomes because the outcome doesn’t fit the expectation. The same thing applies to codependency. You need to heal the cause and not the symptom.
Healing is not about fixing. It is about evolving from one emotional association (like freeze, panic, fear, hurt, shame) to another (such as peace, indifference, enthusiasm, joy) about the event.
This evolution happens when we are able to provide adequate space and time for the part of you that went through the actual traumatic experience. I call these parts, “Aspects of Self”. They are like snapshots of yourself that are stuck in a loop where they repeatedly experience the traumatic event.
Through specialized tools like Holding, Following, Shame Clearings, Integrations, and the Closure Technique, we can make enough unconditional space for this aspect of self to go through the 4 Stages of Healing. Those stages are:
1) Thawing: Thawing is where this part of you is able to begin to feel and is being regularly acknowledged and comforted. CALM and its techniques are powerful tools in managing this.
2) Movement: Here we find this aspect of self begging to share and express itself. Often anger, fear, panic, and anxiety are part of this stage. Often the Aspect of Self will want to fight or run. Let it! By continuing to share and use the techniques in CALM and HEAL help this part to feel validated, acknowledged, and safe.
3) Closure: Closure happens when this Aspect of Self is able to reconcile the experience and integrate a conclusion and outcome for itself that satisfies its need for safety, justice, and resolution of the event.
4) Discovery & Integration: This is where you and the Aspect of Self begin to learn who you are beyond the event. You are free of the shame, guilt, fear, and fatigue that blinded you. You will begin to feel and sense and even see yourself in a brilliant new light. New habits, new reactions, and new behaviors show up naturally. You begin to feel ‘more like yourself’. You are more uninhibited and more decisive about what you do and what you choose. You are operating from your power.
Healing is real and it is possible for you. There are good reasons why past efforts to heal the codependency you’ve struggled with.
It may be that you were given the wrong tools or that you were told to heal the wrong thing. It may be you were not given adequate preparation and guidance.
None of that is your fault. It happens. Many therapists and coaches out there don’t understand codependency deeply enough to make healing happen. They think it is all about people-pleasing and fixing. It isn’t.
Codependency, as you know by your own experience, is about being love-starved. All the habits of fixing, pleasing, care-taking, enabling, and avoiding feelings and conflict are your best attempts at getting someone else to give you those table scraps of love.
When we know it is all about getting the love we need and deserve, then we know where the wound really is: in our love.
Heal the Love Wound, Heal Your Life.
HEAL is ready when you are. It will take investment. It will require time. But then, that just means you’re worth it.
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