My past is holding me back from my future. How can I get my life back?
There are issues from my past that have me very heavily burdened in my heart. I've been torn for so many years and I need help so I can move on with my life.
I experienced trauma when I was 8 years old and I did come out about it until I was 40.
Now I know this is what's holding me back on my happiness. I've met a very loving and caring man but because I'm holding on to these things from my past I’m pushing him away.
How can I get my life back?
It may not feel like it, but you are in a great spot! You know what is holding you back!
It sounds like you want to deal with your past and find healing, so you can move forward in freedom. Trauma is life-altering and at any age, especially when we are young. Meeting with a counselor who works from a trauma-informed perspective would probably be beneficial, as there can be so many layers to the effects of trauma.
More good news: you have met a very loving and caring man! Since he is loving and caring, he most likely will want to support you in healing. Honesty and vulnerability in safe spaces build intimacy; have you considered sharing with him what's behind your distancing behaviors? You may have an ally in your healing just waiting to be allowed in.
You are headed in the right direction to get your life back considering therapy.
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I'm going to second that it is completely brave of you to share something you kept hidden for over 30 years. That's a HUGE deal!
Something awesome about the brain is that it can learn at any time in the human lifespan. No matter how long you have dealt with the affects of trauma, your brain has potential to rewire and change how it operates.
This is just my assumption, but it sounds like you are just realizing the impact the trauma has had and is continuing to have on your life. First of all, that's phenomenal information--many people spend their lives blind to these influences and may never get help. On the other hand, it can be super overwhelming to now have all this insight about yourself and not know how to deal with it. It's OK to feel that uncertainty and/or stress about the process--that's totally expected and will most likely feel less powerful the more you move through healing.
I understand your fears about pushing away someone you care about and that seems important to you. That's quite a normal behavior as a result of childhood trauma. When we are first learning our relationship to others and the world as children, trauma can teach us that others are unsafe or may hurt us. Almost all my clients have experienced childhood trauma and one of the things we spend time exploring is what they may be trying to protect themselves from by pushing others away. Vulnerability can be scary for everybody, but why specifically is it scary for you? I bet there's a really logical reason!
It's unclear how long you've known this man and how connected you feel to him, but could he potentially be a support person for you? If you feel uncomfortable with that, that doesn't mean anything bad. It just means you aren't ready. It's not easy to talk about such hard things. It does seem like you know that you behave in ways that push him away--what would your behavior look like if you didn't? That doesn't mean sharing everything or no boundaries, but meeting him somewhere in the middle. Sometimes the brain needs evidence that being vulnerable doesn't always equate to danger or rejection.
As others have noted, a counselor can help if you so choose to go that route. I can't say what your journey will look like, but I already have so much hope for you since you are obviously incredibly courageous and motivated to work to make your life better. If 8 year old you can make it through trauma, then 40 year old you can definitely work through this!
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I'm so sorry that you have been haunted by the past for so long. It must have been incredibly difficult to open up about something so dark and vulnerable. But by shedding light on it you have already taken the first step toward healing.
Trauma can wreak havoc on relationships if it isn't healed. In fact, we are all reacting to things every day based on perceptions colored by our past experiences. The good news is, you can heal by gaining an understanding of how trauma from the past is affecting you now, developing healthy coping skills, and working through those memories and emotions with a therapist.
This will require some "rewiring of the brain," meaning that you will identify the negative thought patterns and beliefs, and replace them with something more helpful. For example, if your negative reaction feels like "I'm abandoned and alone," you might work on changing it to "I can get my needs met, and I'll be okay regardless." Or if you find yourself feeling like "I'm not worthy of love," you might change that to something like "I deserve to be loved."
Most likely, the reason you're pushing this man away is because something about this relationship is triggering negative beliefs and emotions from the past, and your reaction (by pushing him away) protects you in some way even though there may not be any real danger now. You probably know this logically, but trauma gets stuck in our emotional mind which you can't reason with!
That's why you have to work through the emotions to be able to see things more clearly from a new and more helpful perspective. I like to think of emotions like clouds that block the sun and make it difficult to see anything clearly. If we ignore and avoid the clouds all the time then we will spend our lives looking at the ground. If you can learn to safely weather the storm, you'll find that before long it will pass and you'll be able to see things clearly again.
I recommend working with a therapist who is trained in treating trauma and who you feel comfortable with because they will be able to tailor treatment to your specific needs. You can have the happy life and healthy relationship you desire and deserve!
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How does holding on to this serve you? Not becoming married to the trauma will be key. Recreating your life and what that means, what you want it to be. Considering who you would be, what would life be like had this not occurred, not letting it usurp your life. Take your power back. Releasing any feelings of resentment, shame, regret. Going as far as to grieve and forgive what could have been and this part of your life history, life story. If you are open you can write a letter saying what you are still feeling and you can choose even to write the response you would love to receive, and then release it by burning it (safely) or throwing it away! It’s a daily practice, to find peace around this. Have you ever considered the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Hot yoga?
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It is very common to process early traumatic events a bit later in life. Unfortunately trauma does not go away on its own over time. Many individuals have multiple patterns of avoiding reminders of past negative experiences. The most important thing you can do in order to improve your relationship with others and for your physical and mental health is to face and process these traumas head on. It is absolutely possible to "get your life back" after holding onto this for such a long time. The work will be difficult and will take some time...BUT it will be the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones.You have done some of the work already by recognizing the causative issue and the goal you would like to achieve. If I were asked such by someone I cared about, I would encourage them to find a professional who works with adults who were traumatized as children. One of the most important things in therapy is "goodness of fit" between survivor and therapist. If you don't feel that a trusting relationship can be built with the first therapist you meet with-DO NOT GIVE UP. If you are willing to put in the time and effort you will find someone you connect with. And try to remember that this will be life changing and so worth it in the end.
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Trauma is unique in the sense of one must take what happened to you and reshape it into that does not define who I am.
Initially, trauma splashes us in the face with big bright bold colors that are painfully hard to miss. Over time the colors dull to pastels, grays, and eventually fade to static.
Pushing others away in a self protective manner is a trauma response that needs attention. Sometimes if previous loved ones have hurt us, it can be hard to move past that family will hurt me type of thinking.
Do you want to hold on to what you know or trash it and move into the unfettered unknown?
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Congratulations on meeting a loving and caring partner! What you are talking about is "how do I have a secure relationship?" Within the field of attachment, which is how one relates to the people we love, there are secure and insecure attachment styles. As one who experienced trauma so young, you learned that the world is a dangerous place where you can't expect your needs to be met by those who are supposed to care for and protect you.
As your man tries, lovingly, to be there for you, a part of you wants to let him come close emotionally, and another part of you says, "danger!" This is totally normal and experienced by many adults. What you have going for you in particular, is that you recognize this! In these moments when you notice that you have the urge to push him away, I recommend you tenderly let him know that you see him wanting to get close, and that this makes you feel a little scared. And, your instinct is to kind of push away a little bit, even though you want to accept his love. If you can share this in a vulnerable tone, then he will probably respond reassuringly, and the chances that the two of you can get through this moment of discomfort together are high. With enough of these moments, your nervous system will begin to relax, and even begin look forward to his loving reassurance.
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I encourage you to reach out to a therapist that specializes in trauma. Processing trauma in therapy can be a difficult journey -- but we often have to process and move through the pain in order to get to the other side and move forward with our lives. I wish you the best of luck in your journey as you continue to heal.
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Often people with extensive trauma have difficulty talking about it. This lessens the impact of traditional talk therapy and there benefits. There is a helpful therapy called EMDR that is limited in the amount of talking and also has quick benefits for the reduction of symptoms. For those who are in great distress you can also complete EMDR therapy every day if you would like/have the means. This can quicken the recovery time from these distressing life events.
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I understand and just so you know you can move forward , Break the glass. In your own time. If this new person is right for you they will stay around . You want someone that can walk the path forward with you in relationships if seeking commitment. If not maybe this person is here to help or if it is reminding you then you need seek answers. Get a tarot reading or a crystal reading find out what is around to help guide you. Talk to a spiritual advisor. ✨🙏
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There is a modality developed by Pia Mellody called "Post induction therapy" (PIT). The work has been continued by Jan Bergstrom who wrote the book: "Gifts From A Challenging Childhood.
The premise of the work is that you can "reparent" those wounded parts of you. A quote from Jan's book is, "If it's hysterical, it's historical."
I've done this sort of work myself and its been hugely beneficial for my relationship.
The idea is when "triggered" by my partner, I'm going to request space and affirm, validate and even love that younger part of myself that's hurting and remind them that I (as the functional adult I am) can handle my partner. Basically, I'm practicing getting in a more centered space and thus, I'm able to be more relational.
This is a practice, but the idea is to provide some separation from the trigger and an automatic reaction. You can do it, especially if you love him and he's worth it.
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Unresolved issues/ Unresolved past - using Gestalt therapy, one does gets a closure to their unresolved emotions. Try talking to a therapist !
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I would recommend finding an EMDR therapist. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. As an EMDR therapist can attest to the massive changes that using EMDR has had for many of the people I have worked with.
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Trauma=Trauma Therapy. It's time to stop avoiding what happened and work on it! Brainspotting or EMDR are two very powerful ways to treat Trauma, get into therapy and work on it. Another thing you can do is talk to your partner about it, if you're ready, and hopefully he is ready to love all of you. I would definitely do some Brainspotting and/or Bodyspotting to see where the trauma has been living all this time! Hope this helps!
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You are so brave to come out and talk about your trauma! I hope it started helping you with your healing process. I think you have good instinct, often past especially past trauma can hold us back in areas we aren't even aware of since you have spent so much time trying to compensate and feel ok. It's important to continue to seek the right therapist to help you process your trauma, identify triggers and work through them. Once you start doing this hard work you will start to feel better, and it won't affect your life as much as it is today. If you are comfortable I would share what you can with your current partner, even if it's just to say that you have experienced trauma in your past. This way it will help your partner be more empathetic and understand that you are trying to work through it but it will take time.
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You already are doing that! You are reaching out (virtually still counts!). You are accepting your past, you are not denying what happened to you, you are talking about the past. You are already doing a great job of starting this journey. You get your life back by doing things differently.
I would think about how you would like to process your past. Do you want to talk to someone? Do you want to write about it? Do you want to pray about it? Do you want to read and research books about trauma? Take some time and think about what you want to do. Think about what would work for you and dive in. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, so I am biased - but I really believe that counseling works. Having an objective, professional voice that can guide you on this process is so valuable. But please choose what makes you feel comfortable - not what everyone else says. I think you are very brave for reaching out and wanting to work on this. That takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength.
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I'm so sorry you had that horrible experience!
It's common for those who've experienced childhood trauma(s) to not disclose the events until later in life. Sometimes it doesn't feel safe enough to share the information until the person who hurt them is far away, or even dead.
Trusting and vulnerability are difficult, especially when we've been hurt. So, it's not uncommon for clients to share that their desire to be close to their loved one (emotionally, physically and/or sexually) doesn't match the reality of what they are able to actually experience.
But, there is hope!
You have met a loving and caring man, and you have a self-awareness that you did not experience before. I am confident that the help of a licensed professional counselor (preferably trained in trauma recovery) can help you navigate this healing journey and help you gain the tools needed for the life you want.
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Have you explained to your prospective partner about the feeling of vulnerability which you've got?
Disclosing one's truth to a trusted person will improve your sense of feeling safe and loved. It may also take off the pressure you feel to complete your own trajectory of making peace with your past burdens of ilife.
If you find your possible new partner is patient and understanding, then you've both removed pressure off yourself and will feel validated and loved for speaking your plain truth and finding it well accepted.
If you continue to hide your deeper complexity, or if you explain yourself and ask for the person's patience and understanding, and he avoids giving this to you, then you're better off knowing sooner than later the limits of understanding which this potential partner has.
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