Trauma and Low Self-Esteem revisited

Some more on this topic that I’ve been chewing over recently. But first a brief mention that I am hoping to get a position where I don’t need to talk about autism and mental health. It’s probably a large part of why I find it hard to escape the issues. It doesn’t really do much good to constantly obsess over all my faults. But then it’s the only thing that I care about enough to get my teeth into.

With that being said there’s slow but definite progress being made and I look forward to the day when I can say that I’m happy and fine and everything’s great.

Watched another YT vid about trauma and this one really clicked with me. It’s not good to think you know everything and close yourself off to learning but it is a great feeling to be vindicated.

From a psychotherapist point of view, understanding how to treat someone with trauma. Not just that but any sort of painful experience. Words alone don’t matter. They can’t do anything. They can’t heal someone who has been harmed.

I’ve had negligible self-esteem pretty much my entire adult life, probably starting somewhere in childhood. Naturally the question arises as to what causes low self-esteem. The answer I suspect lies in trauma. How can any rational human being think so low of themselves and how can they be their own worst enemy. How can anyone hate themselves so much that they’re willing to hurt themselves.

There is danger in the world and people get hurt, sometimes badly, sometimes consistently. Trauma has always been the deep feeling of terror over the fact that I was powerless to protect myself and that I had no control over myself.

It’s important to note that the harmful beliefs we hold due to unhealed trauma correspond to an internal truth. These truths become self-fulfilling prophecies but they begin with a kernel of absolute truth. I was vulnerable and there was nothing I could do protect myself. I was at the mercy of something or someone else. No one is around to protect me or help me.

I don’t feel safe here and may never will.

And yet to go through life I will inevitably face a situation where I have to put myself at risk of getting hurt again. I can’t go through that again. I already know I will fail because I can’t even face up to the prospect of even trying. That big old wound just never heals.

The meat of the argument of how you can actually treat trauma is simply that the antidote is exactly the reverse of the traumatic events. To those who have suffered abuse at the hands of malicious evil, the antidote is true kindness. To those who have lost, the antidote is to gain. To those who are abandoned, the antidote is to be welcomed.

To those who have been betrayed, the antidote is loyalty. To those who have been rejected, the antidote is to be accepted.

Those of us who have hidden disabilities know how important it is to have our disabilities understood and acknowledged because those who don’t understand us truly aren’t talking to the real us. They are talking to some idea or false persona of someone that isn’t really there.

Words don’t mean a thing to someone who holds onto strong self-beliefs because they are inevitably bound up in real past experiences.

Someone who truly thinks they are unlovable will simply not believe the words “I love you”

But the antidote is still love. It’s very much show not tell. It has to be real and it has to be lived and it has to be unwavering. It has to be praxis not slogans. It’s all about trust, the type of trust that comes from consistent behaviour over time.

I do think that my own traumas are a long, consistent series of vulnerabilities that form a large, interconnected complex. Not that I’m really looking to diagnose myself with C-PTSD or anything, just trying to pin down where I can help myself.

There are obvious difficulties in growing up with undiagnosed autism. I was brought up in a world that didn’t recognise or make any concessions for my special needs, and instead insisted there was something wrong with me when I was struggling to fit in.

It’s clear as daylight to me now that much of who I am and everything I do is to overcome or avoid the feelings associated with trauma, why did it take so long for me to even understand?

Well that’s because I couldn’t see or accept my own hidden disabilities, felt like I had to be perfect. Had to hide my truest self away lest I be exposed as the loser I’ve always been.

Vicious circles all the way down.

If I’m really going to learn how to believe in myself I need a real reason for doing so. Being honest with myself has done so much work towards this, I feel like I’m ready, prepared to begin the next leg of the journey.

There’s only 2 things holding me back now, 2 things that hold the old wounds open.

Under the cover of repressing painful memories, that darkest part of yourself feels like it’s being controlled. But of course it’s not. When the trigger comes it leaves you in a state you have no control of whatsoever.

I would say at this point that trauma represents all of the horror of internalised experience that cannot be controlled, only repressed. It can’t be bargained or negotiated with, can’t be tamed, can’t be persuaded. Only when we begin to understand it and respect it can we begin to control it.

And so the real antidote to trauma is control. You have to know yourself to effectively take charge of yourself. Know what is truly good for you and bad for you. Know which voice in your head is truly yours and is taking your lived experience into account. Know what you want and who is on your side.

It seems that once you believe in yourself, trusting yourself will follow. But trust takes time and has to be earned. I always used to believe that deep down inside, underneath the mask, that I was a bad person. All the hurtful stuff was directed inwards to stop me from hurting others but I did so much harm to myself, it’s no wonder I didn’t trust myself.

The sad fact was that I was afraid of the darkness inside. I’ve been more scared of myself than anyone else.

Ultimately the trauma was simply too much for me to ever face up to. But I eventually found myself in a situation where I had no choice but to face up to it. And I’m so glad that I did now.

The heart and the head are in union once more.

Thanks for reading

Kind Regards

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