Childhood trauma often includes Emotional Neglect aka Emotional Abandonment.
Emotional neglect is extremely painful for it sends the message that our feelings, opinions, needs and wants don’t matter.
When there is zero to little communication on how we feel about what is happening, even if its about school or friendships, family dynamics, etc, if we weren’t hugged or kissed; or if we’ve never learned that we are a welcome and appreciated member of the family, we grow up feeling and believing we are unlovable. Toxic beliefs become intrinsic to our identities. This also negatively impacts our own self worth.
We also learn that feeling our emotions are unwanted and unnecessary to life and just too painful. We end up just existing – for without emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, life lacks the substance that makes living truly enjoyable.
Therefore, part of the healing from childhood trauma is getting in touch with these feelings. And THIS IS SCARY WORK!
So where do the feelings and emotions go? They stay there in the body locked down way deep, they infiltrate our cells, our nervous system, our brain and so on. Eventually the body gets tired of hiding these emotions because they are linked to who we really are. The authentic self starts to clamor for its voice. To keep a cap on them becomes more difficult, especially when around anyone who triggers unpleasant emotions.
The harder we have to work at ignoring these feelings, the stronger they become. Feeling emotions is foreign because we haven’t allowed ourselves to in such a long, long time. Yet when we have support to feel a little at a time we learn that these feelings or emotions won’t harm us, that we can work through them successfully. Practicing feeling emotions a little at a time can get us ready for the next level of healing- facing some of the bigger feelings and emotions.
What has helped me is to view emotions as waves of water. When we dive into the wave, the water washes over us and the impact of the wave’s hit is lessened. And so it is with the emotions from the past. All the unresolved feelings and emotions will eventually surface – that is something we can usually count on. And when we see these waves of emotions coming it ends up being less impactful in the long run to just dive into the wave – facing it before it gets to strong. We learn that these feelings and emotions are not nearly as powerful as thought – that we can feel them and get through feeling them without it swallowing us up. Going into the wave lessens the blow.
Admittedly it is not easy work. I hear from clients and noticed in myself that when I began to allow myself to *feel* it seemed that it was too much – I felt too much, I noticed too much. However, this IS a phase that one goes through, that’s all. In time one learns to manage these healthfully. In time one learns to get used to feeling emotions. 😊
A gentle reminder – you have a choice. It’s up to you how you choose to work with your unresolved feelings and emotions.
When you’re ready, having the support of a trauma recovery coach or trauma informed therapist will be helpful. As a peer and a TR Coach, I can support you in rediscovering your feelings, get connected with them in a safe and healthy way.
~Lisa Hilton, fellow childhood trauma survivor and founder of Hilton Coaching & Consulting.