I have….. many times, literally and metaphorically.

Have you noticed how this impacts your nervous system?

This is a recent epiphany for me – today in fact.

Left Dangling – As a childhood trauma survivor I’ve experienced this on different levels. I’ve addressed many of my traumas, and this new one about dangling surfaced. This is a new realization of what my body and nervous system endured in the past.

Left dangling \ hanging evokes feelings of abandonment, rejection, fear, unworthiness, and confusion. Definitely a sense of powerlessness. One’s sense of justice cries out. It is a tool, when used intentionally, to get the need met for power and control. This happens in private life and in professional life – it can happen in every relationship.

How was I left Dangling, literally? Well…. And here is a Trigger warning:

Before I was 3, brother #2 led me to a 2nd story bedroom and dangled me outside, upside down. He is 8.5 years older than me. I have no recollection of this event. HOWEVER, my nervous system most certainly does.
How do I know this happened?

When I confronted this same brother about memories of something sexual he did to me he said something like: Don’t you remember me hanging you upside down outside M’s window? I thought you’d remember that more than this.

This comment alone says so much about his headspace, his lack of empathy to the assault he subjected me to and was sidestepping towards another trauma he inflicted. Perhaps this one of dangling me outside a 2nd story window impacted him more? Who really knows. True, he was a kid himself…. Still…. I was a toddler. Both incidents were life-altering for me. I have never been the same since.

This soooo makes sense why in July 2018 I had such a physiological response to his religious abuse. I felt absolutely terrorized and frightened out of my mind by him and this experience.

Clearly there is a somatic response to leaving me hanging, dangling. I can see how much that terrifies me. I see now how it showed up in the decisions I’ve made – of my insatiable need to know, to understand so that I have clarity and am not left behind, not left *hanging/dangling*. Confusion itself can be a trigger for me. This fear of dangling, of not having the support I need, the knowledge I believe I need, spurs me on to keep reaching forward until this need is met. My nervous system sees this as a matter of life or death….and it is not something that can be reasoned away, unfortunately – not when I’m feeling that dangling feeling.

In looking back, there are pivotal times in my life where I was left dangling, without support. These were events that were big in my life as a little girl. And when a little girl is left, abandoned emotionally, what message does she receive?

Abuse alone makes one feel isolated and alone. It terrifies. The psychological damage that emotional neglect evokes is more damaging than the physical or sexual abuse itself. The feeling of betrayal is deep…. Deep….. Deep.

When a woman is left *dangling* in relationships that she needs to feel connected, loved, supported and respected…. Wouldn’t she feel pushed into feeling that her existence is in danger, that the next choice is a matter of survival? Especially when there is a literal somatic memory of dangling and powerless to stop it?

It truly is amazing how childhood experiences show up later in life.

Healing requires the conscious brain to acknowledge what the body and nervous system experienced – that the events which evoke these feelings…. Happened. The mind / body connection needs to be and childhood trauma survivors have often developed a disconnect between these two.

I tell my clients – You have to Name it to Tame it.

And as a fellow trauma survivor I too must walk my talk. Trauma recovery requires acknowledgement of what happened [each time I somatically acknowledge an event such as described above I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of me. My body has a physiological response and I need days to recover] Therefore, I must name the experience[s], sit in the feelings that arise and use this as an opportunity for self compassion, self understanding and if needed, self forgiveness. It is not about pointing fingers or assigning blame. After I do this, the unpleasant feelings dissipate and inner peace arrives. These are replaced by feelings of love, acceptance, compassion, appreciation and PEACE! This is what makes trauma recovery worth the work.

I admit, healing is messy. Here I am 3.5 years into the hardest work I’ve ever done. Current life challenges that we all experience always have connections to the past if some parts of the past are unresolved. Detoxing from the past is ongoing. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago and I see it as a good thing.

Feeling some of the pain does not mean one is weak.

Rather it requires tremendous strength and courage to face unknowns or terrorizing and humiliating experiences. Yet you don’t have to relive them.

Having a compassionate witness to sit with, to offer validation, encouragement, support, comfort, and provide some navigating ideas…. All this helps the childhood trauma survivor keep doing the healing work.

We ALL need that one close, heart to heart connection. We ALL need to feel attuned to, to feel validated. THIS is where healing happens. If you have more than one such connection, then please consider yourself blessed.

Life carries on. It is not fun nor fulfilling sitting in the sidelines. Trauma survivors often feel like observers of  life instead of participants. They want and need more – to keep moving forward – to keep on climbing. We all are designed to feel and experience joy. We need to feel free, to live the life we love, to feel exhilaration – authenticity. As a childhood trauma survivor, I can confidently say:  it’s worth ALL the work.

You are NOT Alone.

THIS is also what I offer my clients. I have lived experience in Childhood Trauma. I get it.
My CASA Method of Coaching

I sit WITH you. I’m here.


Lisa Hilton, CTRC-A, founder of Hilton Coaching & Consulting. I am a trauma coach; I educate, consult, and am a published author. I work with adult survivors of Childhood Trauma and those suffering from Complex PTSD so they can Transform their Travesty into Triumph, one step at a time.

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