"I don't want to talk about that stuff"
and other things I hear as a therapst
by Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S
I love the quote on the surfing Buddha image above. These wise words come from a wonderful healer by the name of Jon Kabot-Zinn who teaches, speaks and writes on the benefits of healing trauma.
As a therapist, part of my role is to help clients heal from previous traumatic experiences. However, trauma is not always experienced in a person's life as a "Big T" traumatic pain [such as post-war, abuse, bullying, death, molestation, illness, rape, or an affair]. Trauma can also be held in the body, mind and spirit when one has experienced on going, day in and day out, "Little T" traumas [such as a critical or controlling parent or sibling, and emotionally absent spouse, a depressed child, a series of broken relationships, an angry unpredictable boss, poverty, a job loss].
Many clients who come to my counseling center for the first time, do not initially identify their presenting challenges as being rooted in unresolved trauma. As such, these individuals tend to minimize their former or current challenges or memories. It is not unusual for clients to state, "I don't want to talk about my childhood stuff, I'm only here to figure out why I can't stop drinking" or, "Sure, my dad was an angry guy, but all of the kids in those days got whipped with a belt, I don't think that has anything to do with my temper", or "I seem to choose men who keep hurting me, but I've already made peace with my dad leaving mom and me for another woman. I don't think that was traumatic."
While my role is not to make a mountain out of a mole hill, current patterns and addictions are nearly always rooted in former painful experiences or traumatic relationships. In order to cope and move through life and relationships, without the right tools, healing and support, it is understandable that a wounded individual may attempt to bury or numb their pain in a myriad of ways. This is done most often through addictions, anger, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, control, food, pot, gambling, moving from one location, job, marriage to the next, and so forth. We call this "Trauma Repetition."
The core schema, or internal inner script that the client with unresolved hurt and trauma often repeats to him or herself sounds like: "I am a loser", "I am unlovable", "I am afraid", "I am a fake", "I am ugly, fat, old", "I am not smart enough, good enough, perfect enough", "God is mad at me", and many other painful internal messages that run as the background music in the person's head, heart and soul. On the outside they may look and act like they have it all together, they may be in designer duds, drive a great car, have a respected position, or are part of the entertainment industry. Or, they may be the guy on the corner with the sign in shabby clothing begging for change.
Part of my role as a therapist is supporting the courageous men, women and couples that I work with at Growth Counseling in helping them language and acknowledge the hurting inner child or young adult in order to heal and move forward in their lives and relationships. Supporting clients in finding healthier ways to live that do not include harming themselves or their loved ones with self sabotaging behaviors or habits is one of the most rewarding parts of the work I do as a clinician.
If you have been feeling like old wounds contribute to current unhealthy patterns, I encourage you to seek the support you deserve. Or if you are a person currently on your journey of healing, I stand in solid support as you move forward in life and love. And if you are a therapist supporting your clients, I salute your good work in the world.
With Kindness & Support,