I’m not loveable. I’m a failure as a human being. I’m invisible…I don’t exist. I’m going to die.
These are feelings that many people who have experienced trauma or loss in life struggle with daily. For some people these feelings seem to come and go at different times, often when least expected.
These feelings may be present with depression, or anxiety, or sometimes both.
You may be wondering why you have tried therapy in the past and have continued to feel that something is wrong or missing – that you are not experiencing life the way you imagine others do. You may be aware of trauma in your own background and have gone through months or even years of therapy and yet you continue to feel the same old feelings … which may even seem to be getting worse with time.
Perhaps you don’t recognize anything in your own life that you would consider “traumatic.” Maybe you have happy memories but still something just doesn’t feel right and it doesn’t make sense.
These feelings may be Survival Terrors. They can develop when your basic needs haven’t been met in early life. If you’ve been raised without adequate care, nurturing, safety, security, love and attention, these unmet needs can create attachment disruptions.
Attachment disruptions are considered a form of trauma. In fact, any disruption in the relationship between a mother and her infant or child creates a traumatic reaction. This is stored in the brain and body of that child. This reaction forms a pattern that persists throughout the life of the child and well into adulthood. Time does not heal all wounds. Getting older and the passage of time only adds more to the pattern because it tends to attract other similar experiences to itself. It is a learning process – one which is geared for survival.
Survival Terrors are the result of the truth of what happened to the child that should never have happened. This means abuse – physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological. But abuse can also include another category: that which didn’t happen but which should have happened – meaning neglect. Neglect can be one of the hardest to process in therapy because it’s difficult to point to what didn’t happen. There are no bruises or wounds, no memories of being hurt by another – only loneliness. And this can happen in any family.
All trauma leaves one feeling alone and isolated, helpless – even frozen. The traumatic event causes a response from the body: fight or flight. A child can’t run or fight so all that’s left is to “freeze.” This is a survival reaction that protects the psyche of the child. It usually creates amnesia about the event and this allows the child to continue to be attached to people who may be neglectful, unsafe or even dangerous.
The problem is that this often leads to the child believing that they are at fault. The bad things that happen are because they are “the problem.” They think they must be bad or unlovable or a failure, otherwise they wouldn’t be getting treated this way.
And because of the amnesia, much of this is forgotten. Often a story will be made up to fill in what was missed, usually one about having had a “happy childhood.” All this leads to feeling empty on the inside, because the story can’t make you feel whole.
The way to heal this is to create an internal relationship that makes you feel whole. This can only be done when the body and brain feel safe. With this feeling of safety, comes the opportunity to reconnect within yourself, to remember who you really are. To express your own unique skills and talents leads to a satisfying life, one in which you also remember your joy.
The model that I use to guide my clients through their healing is called The Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM). This approach allows for immediate relief from symptoms of anxiety and depression from the first session. Skills are learned that can be practiced at home that help with feeling better on a daily basis. The on-going work in therapy creates an internal process that builds upon itself so that progress is cumulative. And the time between sessions continues to produce healing. This is because the work is happening within the neurobiology and the integration of it will lead to reorganization within that brain and body. In other words, the changes are unfolding the potential that’s been kept hidden under the sludge of the trauma.
CRM builds upon a variety of techniques that have proven successful in other models and puts them all together to form a complete approach to therapy. It includes and goes beyond talk therapy. It reaches into the deepest parts of the brain to effect real and lasting change. CRM will address the trauma and symptoms, but also – and most importantly – the discovery of the authentic self so that there can be an experience of true peace and of being grounded in who one was born to be.