Top 2 Insights About Childhood Trauma You Need to Know

And how you can fully heal from the past

Top 2 Insights About Childhood Trauma You Need to Know

Top 2 Insights About Childhood Trauma You Need to Know 4680 3744 Christina Lopes

You know those days where everything seems shitty, everyone annoys you, and you secretly feel like running to the top of a mountain and screaming until you lose your voice?

I was having one of those days.

I had been going through months of intense healing from past trauma: deep, repressed wounds that included childhood sexual abuse, among other things.

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If you’ve experienced childhood trauma, check out these 3 videos I shot about this topic (herehere, and here), along with tips and tools for healing yourself and moving into a life of joy.

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But I was honestly exhausted. I was tired of sitting in the pain that was surfacing in layers, every single day. On some days it felt like I had healed everything, finally reaching the bottom of my subconscious pit.

I would feel lighter and even a sense of peace and joy. I could giggle at the butterflies and watch the birds soar overhead as I hiked in the mountains.

And then I would crash. Another layer of pain would surface, sometimes crushing my chest with so much pressure.

People often think that healing looks like this:

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

But in all honesty, if this were what healing looked like, we’d all be doing it, instead of intensely repressing our traumas and pain.

More often than not, this is what real healing looks like:

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Unsplash

At times you feel buried and can’t breathe, holding on to the slightest hope that tomorrow will be better.

So as the weeks went by, my mind decided to take over and redirect my attention elsewhere. The psyche is always looking for ways to escape pain. So I started working non-stop, burying my face in my computer screen.

I had a new website to launch, a new business that was blossoming, clients to coach, videos to shoot. And I had the dream of a healing center in Portugal to start materializing. There was just so much to do.

But as I buried myself in my work, my heart and soul were very aware of what the mind was doing and they decided to step in. So one day, as I was busy producing one of my weekly videos, my computer crashed.

Yep, the computer that produces my videos, has video sessions with coaching clients, and helps me create all the content for my upcoming website.

My work computer died on me. Just like that.

The first thought that came up was “Holy shit, this can’t possibly be happening,” followed by a slight whimpering: “I just can’t catch a break.”

Not knowing whether I should cry or laugh hysterically, I just sat there for a little while, looking at my now defunct computer. Then I felt deep gratitude for that piece of equipment that has worked so hard for me in these past years.

I smiled. I knew why my computer died on that specific day.

Life was helping me heal, as it does for all of us.

We are so loved, guided, and cherished. And as we awaken, as we begin to question our lives and surrender to the power of the Universe, we notice just how guided we are. Sometimes to the point where you feel like your free will doesn’t exist anymore.

My computer died on that day because I was resisting the surfacing of more pain. My mind had decided that enough was enough. But you see, it’s not the mind or ego that should make those decisions for you.

Your heart will tell you when it’s time: you’ll just feel it deep in your chest.

I recognized this truth and decided to finally hear what life was asking of me. So I sat down in meditation, pretty reluctantly at first. My mind was now busy thinking about how on earth I would continue working without a computer.

But I took a deep breath, put on my earphones, and listened to a deep meditation track. Slowly, my body began to relax and a familiar sensation took over.

I could feel that one of my Spirit guides wanted to talk to me.

I started to feel her energy and then saw her in my mind’s eye. Tall, beautiful, older lady. She’s never given me a name so I call her “Ma” because of her strong motherly energy.

She sat next to me and smiled:

“Can you learn to see yourself as we see you?”

I sat with that question for a few seconds and just as I was about to telepathically ask “how do you see me?” I felt a wave of love wash over me.

Unconditional love. That love that we sometimes think only Spirit can give, when in truth, we have the same capacity to love like this too.

Because we are Spirit, God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it.

As the wave of love washed over me, all the emotions, images, and memories that I had actively been resisting came up.

I understood so much about myself and my past. And I came to understand how some things can be our salvation in one phase of our lives, only to become our poison in another.

Here are some of the insights I received during that meditation.

Insight 1:

Psychological dissociation is a survival mechanism, especially for highly sensitive children.

I saw myself as a young child, standing alone and sad. I was 4 years old and felt overwhelmed by an emotion that I didn’t intellectually understand yet: shame.

I was being molested by a family member and my little mind was so confused and hurt.

For children who are highly sensitive or “empaths,” these intense emotional states are very traumatic, especially if they occur before the ego has started to develop (around the age of 5 or 6).

These children tend to be very emotionally intelligent and can sense energy on a very deep level. Yet, their minds simply are not mature enough to explain or understand what it is they’re feeling.

As hard as it may be to imagine, I strongly believe that it’s not the physical acts of abuse (sexual or otherwise) that often cause the lasting trauma but rather, the deep and overwhelming emotional charge that comes with these acts.

When a highly sensitive child feels such painful emotions like shame, without being able to mentally understand them, their immature psyche begins to think:

“I must be doing something wrong.”

or

“There’s something wrong with me.”

At that moment, the psyche “splits” or dissociates into the Real Self and the “Perfect Self” or alter ego. From then on, the alter ego (some call it the inner critic) takes over, leaving the real self as a “servant” or passenger in the car that it now drives.

These children then grow up and often become driven, self-critical, self-loathing adults. Their self-esteem is low and they don’t love or respect themselves. Their alter ego is constantly repeating the core thought that led to the dissociation in the first place:

“There’s something wrong with me.”

This was how I lived my life for over 30 years.

But here’s the thing:

At the moment of trauma, this split of consciousness is absolutely necessary.

It’s protective. Without this “escape,” the child’s psyche would likely not survive.

I could feel this to be true as memories from my childhood flashed in my mind. The alter ego or inner critic that I had always thought of as a pest in my life (I called it the “little devil on my shoulder” in my first book) was actually a savior.

Suddenly, I felt deep gratitude and acceptance of a part of me that for years, I had thought was my biggest “problem.”

As I felt love and gratitude, I also felt the alter ego integrate back into my energy system. My consciousness united. I felt whole — truly, deeply whole — for the first time in my entire life.

Insight 2:

The alter ego’s distorted image leads to codependency.

When the alter ego takes over, it keeps its power by relying on one key emotion: fear.

At this point, as the traumatized child grows and their egos develop, the original wounding thought “there’s something wrong with me” begins to get layered by other fear-based thoughts.

Fear of abandonment, of being rejected, of not being good enough, of betrayal, of loss. These are some of the fears that begin to take hold, influencing everything the now teenager or adult does.

And these intense fears lead to another painful trait that becomes toxic within relationships: codependency.

Codependency simple means “a need to be needed.” I remember this feeling so very well because it was present in all of my relationships. The little voice in my head was constantly saying I wasn’t good enough and that people always left me.

So I developed this habit of making myself useful to others.

My psyche reasoned that as long as I was useful, people wouldn’t leave, betray, or mistreat me. And that’s how I ended up losing myself within relationships.

I became the “savior” in my relationships: constantly rescuing and holding my partners up, sometimes until I no longer even knew who I was anymore.

To me, love meant being needed. I treated love as if it were a commodity.

There are a lot of self-help courses and videos on codependency but in my opinion, the majority of them just scratch the surface of what is needed to truly heal this toxic personality trait.

You can’t heal codependency until you sit with the original core thought that gave birth to the consciousness split in the first place:

“There’s something wrong with me.”

And that leads me back to my Spirit guide’s initial question:

“Can you learn to see yourself as we see you?”

I cried and then smiled. “Yes, I can. I will.”

There was never anything wrong with that gentle, joyful, sensitive, beautiful child that endured so much. There was never anything wrong with me.

I am, and always have been, loved. I am Love.

You are too. No matter what happened to you that caused a split in your psyche, never forget this:

You are so loved, so cherished, so guided.

Spirit wants to help you heal, even if they have to break your laptop to make you listen.

That’s love, isn’t it?

As much as your alter ego helped you survive some serious shit in your childhood, it’s not necessary anymore. In fact, if you keep it, it’ll poison your life and relationships.

Love it, bring it close to you, and then…integrate it. Let the Real You take the lead now.

After that beautiful and powerful meditation, I felt so much better. So am I fully healed now? Who knows. I’ve stopped wanting to “get there,” wherever “there” is. I just keep living this life, one day at a time, some days better than others. One foot in front of the other.

And no matter what happens to me, I now know and feel how lovable I truly am. I really am a remarkable creature of God.

And so are you.

Now, off I go to buy a new laptop. There’s just so much I still want to do in life. But I promised Spirit not to get so carried away that I lose sight of how I feel.

Thanks Spirit, for the loving nudge. 😉

NOW OVER TO YOU!

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To submit a question for our weekly videos, add it below in the comments, with the hashtag #askchristina.

With deep love and gratitude;

signature - Christina Lopes

*  This post was originally published on Medium. Edited.

childhood trauma

CHRISTINA LOPES, DPT, MPH

I’m a life coach, healer, spiritual teacher, and former clinician. My life’s work is to help you open your incredible heart, heal your past, and live with joy and purpose. Aside from my weekly video content, I also work 1-on-1 with people who need private individual guidance. If this is you, the fastest way to get help is to book a single session with me.

9 Comments
  • I can’t speak for others, but this was definitely true for me: dissociation, inability to process negative feelings, perfectionism and fragile self-esteem, codependency (along with fear of abandonment), seeking external validation of self worth, etc.

    Much of the above is closely linked to attachment theory in psychology, and I believe “corrective emotional experiences” are the key to healing trauma. It’s not enough to simply recall a traumatic experience. Nor is it enough to have a logical narrative to re-explain what happened. The critical element is the emotional arousal, which allows one to unlock the emotional centers of the brain so that one can access the hard drive and rewrite the code with a new story, thereby changing our instinctive fight-or-flight responses. That’s why feeling the pain is so critical; the only way out is through.

    IME, the healing process has been horrible and seemingly endless. I cried for months straight every single day, ranging from the brief emotional surges to the multi-hour bawling sessions. There still seems to be no end in sight. It has been so much to bear. But, ironically, the deeper and further I go, the stronger the inner conviction that I can make it through. Like you said, a lot of it is just adjusting expectations and coming to terms with the fact that healing will likely be a lifelong process. As we work through the layers, more will surface. Once we are peace with that reality, there is no more suffering, just gratitude for the ability to heal and to love. That is our greatest gift.

  • God this hit me to my core. Thank you so much for posting this.

  • Thank you so much for sharing these insights Christina. This is exactly what I need to know right now. Also, the mirror work exercises for self-love is gold to my practice. I am very grateful for finding your channel, I am on a healing and detoxifying phase. Trauma triggers are so scary cause they make me feel so vulnerable when I need to feel empowered and able to speak my truth and set boundaries with others, especially on intimate relationships. Could you please point me to any boundaries related material?.
    I admire your path and learnings. Thank you for sharing your crystalized wisdom.

    Light, Luis

  • Can I heal my codependency while still with a narcissist?
    I have sooo much trouble leaving him because of our rules of marriage in my country.. I have children and I feel absolutely damaged .. no one wants to help me getting divorce no one.. is that love? I feel like I don’t want to be here anymore

    • Every problem has a solution. Meanwhile, pray, ask for peace in your mind. Practice breath meditation. Go outside to walk… Be aware of your body, exercise more.
      Love yourself, love yourself more. Narcissist are in our lives to teach us that we have to love and respect OURSELVES unconditionally.

    • Only you can know whether to stay in a marriage or not. Once you heal codependency, you’re in your power and I don’t see how narcissistic behavior can be tolerated. But only you can feel what is right for you.

  • These two insights fit my experience completely. I did use your inner childhood meditation and journaling a few months back to help me through some of it, and it helped me tremendously. Although I sometimes still get “triggered,” (for example, I got triggered big time when I watched the movie “Rocketman” about Elton John this week – his feelings in childhood were similar to mine because he experienced childhood emotional neglect, like I did), I feel a lot better, now that I did this work. My inner child no longer feels as if she has been “ridden roughshod over” by that part of me that decided I was going to deal with it by being a high achiever.

    In therapy, I discovered that I pretty much ran right over my hurt inner child, mercilessly, in an effort to soldier on and not feel the pain of the neglect. I went from achievement to achievement, neglecting this lost, hurt little girl whose feelings never got dealt with. I got depressed in between achievements until I found some other big achievement to focus on. In the end, ultimately and finally, it was like a house of beautiful cards that came crashing down.

    And yes, I became very codependent because of it. I had all the same feelings and inclinations that you wrote about in that section of this blog post. Also, I tried to hook other people’s codependency tendencies, in order to get someone else to make up for what I felt I lost and take care of me – I was a strange mixture of codependent, quasi-self-confident, and needy. This was particularly true of what I did in my 2 marriages.

    It was in a divorce recovery class that I really came to understand that I assigned the role of loving father and mother to the men in my life. I always wanted the men in my life to make up for what I didn’t get. “Now I’ll finally be loved,” I thought. I saw how codependent, ineffective, and dysfunctional this really was, so I gave it up and started working on the inner child and on healing the wounds of emotional neglect in my childhood.

    What I ultimately realized was that I need to look inside for the love and attention I didn’t get and to trust God and find the divinity and love within myself. This has been very hard! When I look inside, I come up empty. There seems to be nothing there but a dark pit of isolation. It’s like “Is anybody home? Is anybody in there?” and then there’s silence. And I was never taught about God and our true nature – I came to spirituality relatively later in life (age 31) and have struggled with faith, due to inexperience.

    But I am persevering. I’m holding off on dating/coupling and continuing to look inside – until I hear God and my guides talking back to me. And little by little, my mood is lifting and I’m feeling happier and better. And the loving attention I give to my friends and ex-boyfriends is not given with the intention of being useful and keeping them around anymore; it is an authentic expression of love, and that feels MUCH better.

    Little by little, one day at a time, I hope the drops will accumulate into a pool of water, a lake, an ocean of love that I feel from within.

    One more thing: it is very dangerous NOT to heal your inner child. So many people I know who have CEN (Child Emotional Neglect) and other forms of childhood trauma, such as abuse or physical neglect, take their own lives. Some of them do this when they are much older and feel they are no longer of much use, because they are retired or their bodies can’t do what they used to do. Childhood trauma is VERY serious and very dangerous. It’s like a time bomb waiting to explode and take everything from us, and it is dangerous to ignore it. Healing it hurts, but there are much greater costs if we don’t.

  • Thank you for explaining how codependency happens.
    I always said that Codependency is as deadly if not more than drugs and alcohol addiction.
    I have stayed away from relationships for 10 years as I kept attracting the same energies and I certainly had no coping skills to see clearly or learn from them.

    Looking forward to my session with Christina tomorrow!!!

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