Initial trauma and sense of self

At my therapy appointment on Thursday, I went into detail about my job situation and why it’s so hard to go back. I talked about not being sure if I can go back. She confirmed what I suspected – that this is similar to a PTSD situation. I thought it was more like the trauma happened at work and I become anxious and paralyzed when I think of going back. But my therapist gave me the insight that the initial trauma had occurred in my childhood and the events at work triggering that trauma.

When you have been raised where you are mirrored positively, you begin to develop a positive sense of self. That self is who you turn to in times of stress, like a child who runs to a parent in moments of fear.

Who ever it is that raises you tells you who you are. “You’re so beautiful, smart,” etc. etc. I can’t imagine raising a child without telling them how amazing they are. Who doesn’t tell a kid “Wow that’s so amazing! You’re so good at that!” when they show you a drawing they just finished? Oh yeah, my dad.

In our home, I felt unsafe, unheard, and like I was in the way. I learned very quickly that I was fat, that it was my fault for the way other people treated me (“Why do you let them treat you that way?”), and that I was a joke. I basically had no voice and felt humiliated all the time. I had not developed a positive sense of self. My work situation triggered all that again, and in a time when I needed a strong sense of self to make it through, it just wasn’t there.

My therapist pointed out that I saw my life as a series of traumatic events that keep happening to me, while she sees it as the initial trauma happening in my childhood (not being mirrored and therefore not developing a sense of self) and because of that negative life events feel traumatic.

By chance an acquaintance invited me to a Adult Children of Alcoholics (or other dysfunctional family) meeting and I went despite not knowing much about it (yes I realize that I’m talking about going to an anonymous meeting). I’m glad I did because it felt so relieving to be around other people who are feeling and going through things that I am. Mainly that feeling of having to do things correctly and independently and not caring for ourselves.

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