Heal old hurts to build close friendships

Heal old hurts to build close friendships

I had a difficult morning this morning. Business stress. Nothing major but I felt like I was punched in the gut. My motivation and zest were stripped out from under me. Honestly, it doesn’t take an earthquake to rattle me. I get rattled pretty easily, but then again I think others are the same way too.

Luckily I had a lunch run planned! I’ve honestly never done a lunch run before. Mainly because I do not have a shower at my office and well, I don’t think my clients would appreciate seeing me after a run ;) But today since I had a packed morning scheduled, I didn’t need to go back to the office but could instead, go home shower and get on the laptop!

Anyways, back to feeling crappy. I felt pretty crappy and therefore was not productive in the morning in between sessions (as I said when I’m rattled I sulk). I knew my run would help me to reset though so I was looking forward to seeing how that would help.

What I want to talk to you about today though, isn’t my crappy morning, but rather the magical thing that happened on my lunch run and it has to do with trusting.

Some people like running because they like running, but I like running because of the relationships that are developed in the woods.

As I was running with my friend (well I think we were walking up a hill at this point) he asked me a personal question that is a harmless question, but since it’s an area I struggle with (unbeknownst to him) it wasn’t something I could answer easily. I quickly assessed the situation and tried to figure out how to answer this question as he was expecting a sort of answer that I couldn’t really give due to my struggle. I decided to just be honest. Not go into crazy detail or spill all my problems, but just share that my advice/perception/experience in that matter is difficult to give because of the particular struggle that I have.

It was a bit scary to share because there are of course fears about where that information goes once it leaves my mouth, but I decided to move past my insecurity and take a risk and trust in my friend.

Not to my surprise my vulnerability in this matter allowed him to also be vulnerable as well and I was able to be the supportive friend that I enjoy being and believe that we both benefited from the conversation because we were able to just be open an honest without any fear of judgement.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Good question.

I’m sharing this story, because if we want to connect on a deeper level with others, we must be vulnerable. If we want others to open up to us, we must be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable we must face our insecurities and our fears about ourselves. We must takes risks and trust in others.

Of course I know it’s easier said than done. If you have had betrayals happen to you, then it makes it even harder to trust others and makes you put a wall up around you to protect yourself from ever being vulnerable. If you’ve constantly had negative interpersonal relationships throughout your life, starting with your family, then it’s even harder to do this. I feel for my clients because of these experiences that they’ve had, they are missing out on these wonderful connections that they could be having with others, and those connections, for me at least, are essential in a life worth living. I want everyone to be able to have these connections in life, but understand that old hurts must be healed to create a foundation for these friendships to build.

My clients sometimes feel that the hurt is too great, that they will forever not trust others, that they will forever wear armor to protect their insecurities. It’s easier to just write off connection rather than get hurt again, right?

This is one of the many reasons why I find it so important to heal from old hurts. These old hurts can take away some of the most beautiful moments of our life. You might not think that my run today with my friend held a beautiful moment, and that’s fine, our values might be a bit different, or maybe the concept is so foreign to you because it has never happened and can’t possibly imagine how awesome those moments really are. Either way, I believe that everyone has the capacity to heal, so that they can learn to trust others and connect with others in a way that feels safe and meaningful. Because in the end, when we can truly just be ourselves, without a shield, and have someone else just accept that, without judgement, is what true friendship is all about.

Resilience. Authentic Self Counseling, Rochester, NY.

Witnessing Human Resilience

Resilience amazes me

 

I think I was first inspired by human resilience when I learned about the holocaust. Of course there are many events in history that demonstrate examples of resilience; however, learning about the holocaust when I was younger really hit home to me. It was only a handful of decades previously that the holocaust had happened… being in the same lifetime to meet survivors was too close for comfort.

In college I was excited to enroll in a class called “Auschwitz and After.” I was so excited to take this course but felt disturbed to be excited about something so tragic. The psychology around the holocaust was too intriguing to ignore.
Why it happened… how it happened… the organization of it all…. the vast involvement… power… fear… strength… I wanted to learn it all… understand it… but most of all… the aftermath. What do you do with your life after being a victim?! It is the resilience that draws me in the most.

I read an article about pregnant women in the concentration camps. Learning about their resilience allowed me to keep turning the pages. There was strength that would shine through the dark, horrific stories, making reading about it more tolerable for ME.

Some difficult events in life we train for…..

Athletes train for their sports. They train their bodies and their minds to concur the sport, the competition, and try to prepare for all types of conditions and situations that may come their way when it matters the most. I admire athletes. I am always amazed watching the Olympics and look forward to the years that the games are played.

I surround myself around endurance athletes like ultra runners and ironmen (and women). I am consistently amazed by their abilities. Through my friends and my own physical training, I have learned more about how the body responds to training, trauma (injury) and endurance. It has been a great learning experience. I place this hobby in my life as it helps me in my therapy in working with the other events….

The ones that we DO NOT train for.

The things that happen to us… that we don’t want to happen to us. Unwilling, unasking, and unnerving…

Physically, mentally, emotionally. We did not prepare for these events, but are unfortunately put in a difficult and often life or death situation. (Like being a victim in a concentration camp).

People don’t train for ongoing systemic abuse on the body and mind. Nor should anyone. It is horrific that abuse happens.

Childhood abuse is not just a thing that rarely happens. It happens every day. I see the effects that it has on adults. Children are not able to train themselves for such circumstances to live through, but they live (sometimes), they endure, and they demonstrate resilience.

You, my client, are my inspiration, my motivation, and my strength.

After hearing trauma story after trauma story I thought I would become emotionless. Stop empathizing and become numb. I haven’t. My heart aches with every story that I hear.

Then why are you a therapist – a trauma specialist?!?

Resilience. The fact that people endure. The fact that I see you heal. I am honored to be a part of such a difficult journey of recovery.

No amount of therapy can take away your past. Therapy can change the way how you look at the past and how you therefore look at the future. So you can move forward, live and enjoy life.

In recovery it is important to know that you can bend and are not broken even though you FEEL broken. You are not. You are strong. You are resilient.

You are alive. You have endured.

When you are in survival mode you might develop coping mechanisms that help you through so that you can survive. But when the danger is over (when you’re finally released from the camp or the hostage situation) and you are safe, you do not FEEL safe. You continue with these coping skills that become maladaptive and continue to keep you trapped, years and years after in reality you are no longer trapped.

At this point therapy can help your mind and your body to heal and recognize its current state and you are not just surviving anymore. You are living. You are enjoying. You can be happy.

I challenge you to recognize your resilience. Your ability to continue on despite adversity. By recognizing this you will create a platform for healing to begin.

It is important to know you are not your trauma. You are not your past. You are your resilience.

"Time doesn't heal all wounds" page about trauma therapy/counseling

What is trauma and how do I know if I have it?

What is trauma?

I sum up trauma simply by explaining it as a significant negative life experience that affects you deeply.  Often times, trauma can affect us emotionally, psychologically, and physically to the point that it seems to be getting in the way of your life – relationships, jobs, hobbies, personal growth, etc.

Trauma can be anything to anyone really. A trauma to someone might not be a trauma to another person so if your questioning and thinking that you might have trauma, you probably do. Don’t feel discouraged though, it isn’t a bad thing or a label or something that you can’t move past and that’s what I’m hear for – to help you move past the trauma and be your authentic self.

Trauma isn’t something that defines you, but rather it is something that happens to you.

“Trauma? I mean, my parents didn’t beat me or anything like that”

Again, a lot of things can be considered traumatic and I’ve seen people downplay the events that have happened to them in their lives because they weren’t beaten or compare it to some other event that they consider traumatic.

Surprisingly enough – or not surprisingly depending on how you look at it, but most of the trauma that I work on with my clients have to do with attachment trauma.

What’s attachment trauma?

First, we must understand attachment. Secure attachment is formed between an infant and its primary caregiver when the infant receives love, soothing, smiles, touch, eye contact, in addition to basic needs being met (food, diaper changes, etc).

A variety of traumas can happen in infancy and childhood that can lead to a child to not develop a secure attachment with his/her primary caregiver. Separation from the caregiver, neglect or abuse from the caregiver and that includes not just physical and sexual but also emotional and verbal as well. The child learns to sooth and develop his/her esteem, trust, and confidence based on the attachment with the primary caregiver. If these needs are not met attachment trauma can develop.

It is through impaired attachment that negative core beliefs about oneself can really take a strong hold in a persons psyche.

Attachment issues can result in a variety of problems in adulthood including issues in romantic relationships, friendships, issues on the job, as well as poor eating and self care habits.

How can trauma affect you?

Trauma often affects people though symptoms such as

  • flashbacks
  • nightmares
  • avoidance
  • physical anxiety symptoms (shakiness, sweating, increased heart rate)
  • isolation
  • feel numb
  • hypervigalence
  • dissociation

If these symptoms sound like you, you may be suffering from PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder).

Not everyone that experiences trauma develops PTSD. Sometimes people will suffer from other anxiety symptoms, or depression, but the root is of problem is still within the unhealed traumatic event.

Time does not heal all wounds…..

When traumatic events are not properly healed they become locked in our brain… in our nervous system.  When someone experiences multiple traumatic events then the brain experiences a host of unhealed memories.  The more memories someone has and the more intense they are, the more symptoms someone is likely to experience.  Therefore the severity of the effects of trauma can have a large range!

How do you treat trauma?

There are multiple ways that therapists go about trauma treatment and some of them have been very successful. I use a method called EMDR – Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. I use this method because I have found it to be helpful when other modalities have not been successful. EMDR can stop the above symptoms by helping the person to heal from the memory, the beliefs about the memory, and the physical sensations from the memory. By addressing all of these areas, a complete healing process occurs resulting in remission of symptoms and overall improvement of health and well being.