The impacts of my traumatic childhood cannot be measured. They are too vast and far-reaching for me to classify, categorize or otherwise explain. That said, I do try.
My controller hasn’t given up on the idea that I can define it. This blog exists because of my attempts to define it, so it’s not all bad. But the reality is too much for any one person to grasp entirely.
Over the course of my adult life, I have done my best to be an adult. But with a childhood of complex trauma and a coping mechanism which took the form of dissociative identity disorder, I haven’t always had the ability to handle life from an adult place. Sometimes my younger parts have handled things for me and this has rarely gone well. Sometimes my controller has handled things and exhausted me in the process.
But sometimes the paralysis hits. I don’t know exactly what causes it. Maybe there are too many parts who want to go in too many directions. Maybe the powerlessness is too much for the system and the shutdown is inevitable. Maybe some part believes that if I hide from it long enough, it will go away. All of these reactions come from my childhood coping and none of them will bring the best result. But often, I don’t have the ability, awareness and fortitude to overcome it.
Recently, I have noticed that my precious computer has been acting in a problematic manner. I do have an information technology background, but unlike many of my friends working in that sector, I am not a gadget person. I don’t like replacing technology at all. I don’t like the unknown. I don’t like change at all, but especially not with something as important as my phone and my computer. As I watched the erratic behavior of my computer increase over time, I could feel that urge to hide, to put my head in the sand, to expect some kind of miraculous recovery of hardware built for temporary use. I wanted a fix that didn’t involve hard work on my part. I didn’t want to deal with it.
This hiding reaction makes so much sense. I get it. It is an old pattern from back when hiding was my only option. But it went differently this time. I can’t tell you why. Maybe this business means so much to me. Or maybe I am tired of cleaning up massive crises that come from my choice to ignore a problem for far too long. But this time, I chose to do two things I might not have done years before.
First, I backed everything up to the cloud. My old approach would have been to use memory sticks which I would conveniently forget to update on a regular basis. Instead, I actually went out to a site and paid for a service to back up my entire hard drive. I acted like the adult I wish to become. Then, yesterday I went to the store and purchased another computer before my old computer died completely sending me into a frantic crisis of epic proportions where I would lose touch with all my virtual connections for days on end.
I did what I had to do. And I did it before a massive crisis ensued. I inconvenienced myself to take care of a problem before it became an issue I could not resolve easily. This has not been the way I operate. And I am proud of myself for refusing to hide from what I didn’t want to handle. Some of you might be thinking this is no big deal. Everyone handles stuff like this every day. Who cares? What’s the big deal? But with trauma, it doesn’t work that way. Little things can cause paralysis. Medium things can land us in a state of sheer panic. Big things can take months or years to overcome. Trauma does this. It turns logical problems in to illogical reactions. It turns normal life in to hell on earth.
So what is my message today? While trauma does those things, we can wake up from the confusion, the fear, the hiding and the paralysis. Does it happen overnight? Absolutely not. It takes years of awareness building, recognition, acceptance and inner conversation, but it can be done. Don’t give up on making those changes in your life. And the next time you feel the urge to react from that traumatic place, take another look at it. Consider another choice. Maybe you will make a change. Maybe you won’t. But just consider it. You don’t have to live there anymore.
Now I just have to conquer the new keyboard where the page up and the shift key have been switched. Who does that? It’s just cruel.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW