Lost relationships can host significant traumatic memories. In a recent coaching session, a client was amazed at how distressed she felt when she'd encounter reminders of her X. The list included certain places, foods, restaurants, songs, and other people.
The list is almost endless. I bet you can add a few of your own.
Keep in mind, now, that trauma does not have to entail a life-threatening experience. Instead, think of trauma on a continuum of stress. On one end is the classic, psychological definition of trauma of experiencing a life-threatening event. On the other end, a humiliating or psychologically abusive event can still be considered traumatic.
It can trigger unrelenting feelings of low self-worth, rejection, isolation, and many degrees of depression.
If you've been in a significant relationship characterized by any degree of trauma, when the relationship ends, you may have a more complicated recovery. You may have nightmares, flashbacks, ruminating thoughts, and other unpleasant experiences. These are just a few of the symptoms of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Keep in mind these truths, so you resist beating yourself up about "not being over it yet":
- Trauma has a long shelf life.
- It can be re-triggered by related places, things, people (yes, even the kids).
- If you felt humiliated or unsafe, especially if repeatedly so, your recovery takes more time.
- Consider seeing a professional who can do a specific trauma methodology with you called EMDR.
- EMDR helps you get new messages to your brain that help dissolve old habitual thoughts.
- You can't think your way out of post-traumatic stress.
- Your brain needs to develop new neural pathways, which is what EMDR helps create.
Respect the trauma you've experienced. It deserves to be healed over, not sealed over. Healing opens up new resources and belief in yourself again. Sealing, on the other hand, only opens you up for a wound to be broken open at any point. Sealing may seem helpful in the short term, but it leaves you vulnerable for greater pain and difficulty regaining strong mental health.
Healing is always best when done as early in the process as possible. Think of EMDR or trauma coaching as preventative. It prevents your trauma from creating more extensive problems down the road. And you'll feel so much better!