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What if I told you that every decision you’ve ever made had been a trauma response? And one of those trauma responses led to your marriage and divorce. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but let me explain what I mean.
Growing up, whether you realize it or not, you went through some traumatic events. Trauma is an experience that involves fear or stress, or pain. Trauma can be both mental and physical and is caused by many different human experiences. For example, a tornado tearing down your house can be traumatic, watching your puppy die when you were five can be traumatic, having an abusive or alcoholic parent can be traumatic, or being physically or mentally abused can be considered trauma.
Many things can induce trauma, but the bottom line is that if you’re an adult, you probably went through trauma at some point in your life. What’s worse is that you may have gone through trauma that you are not labeling as trauma because, in your mind, the experience was normal. If you grew up never seeing what a functional, healthy family unit was, the only standard you have for normal was your family of origin.
However, if you came from a dysfunctional family, more than likely, your childhood was not normal. It’s possible that your parents raised you while they were in survival mode. For example, if your parent(s) or caregiver(s) had to work a lot and didn’t have time to give you the needed attention or affection. Or if you were a foster child and didn’t have an opportunity to bond with one set of parents. Or if you were homeless and constantly moving around as a child because finances were unstable. Or if you had two parents in the home, but one had an addiction, all the time, attention, and money was going to them and their issues. Perhaps unaddressed codependency issues caused a lot of tension or problems.
The point is that there may have been issues that you thought were just standard parts of childhood that could have caused a lot of unaddressed trauma. Acknowledging trauma does not mean that your parent, parents, or caregivers didn’t love you; it just means that they passed down to you what was given to them. They could only show you what was expressed to them, and unfortunately, if they grew up in a dysfunctional household, that is what they know.
These experiences mean that growing up, you had to learn ways to soothe yourself, take care of your emotions, or find out how to get the attention and affection you need. All children must feel loved and show kindness, gentleness, and compassion. When this does not happen often, it leads to trying to find ways to handle that emotional void.
This might look like overeating, self-isolation, being a people pleaser, taking drugs, or being sexualized at a young age. These maladaptive behaviors usually result from a child/adolescent not getting their emotional needs met healthily by their caregivers.
Another way that a trauma response can manifest is overachieving to get the attention, affection, or validation you didn’t get as a child. This can look like pushing yourself to be the president of every club you join, studying all the time to get straight A’s in every class, and pushing yourself to be the captain of a sports team. I’m not saying anything is wrong with achievement, but achievement from never feeling good enough may be a trauma response. All of these examples are ways that you may have learned to cope with your trauma because, even temporarily, they may have made you feel better at that moment.
“The trauma response led you to allow that person in your life because you wanted them to give you something you wanted them to fulfill.”
That’s why I say every decision you have made in your life came from coping with a trauma you experienced, whether the outcome was negative or positive. From a psychological perspective, if you never got therapy, it’s possible that the feeling of ‘not enoughness’ is still there. This could have led to you lowering your standards regarding your relationships, friendships, or even your career. You were willing to accept anything or do anything to be validated, which may have led to ignoring red flags when dating your ex-husband.
Many of these experiences are done subconsciously because, let’s face it, if you knew that several years later you would be divorced, you probably would not have married the person in the first place. The trauma response is what led you to allow that person in your life because you wanted them to give you something you wanted them to fulfill. It was that inner child begging to be loved, begging for the attention and affection she did not get. Part of the issue of trauma is that it hides in parts of you that you didn’t know were there.
That traumatic wounded child is the part of you that picked your ex-husband; unfortunately, that is the part of you that is subconsciously in control of your life. It’s the part of you that says, “I’m willing to put up with disrespectful behavior, violation of boundaries, unpleasant situations, angry outburst, and so much more just to get a small piece of what feels like love.
So, what’s the good news? The good news is it can stop now and be over once you decide what you want in your life. That decision starts with clarity – understanding that most of the control in your life comes from that traumatized inner child still deserving of love, affection, and attention, all the things she didn’t get when she was younger. From that space of clarity, you can now understand where you were, who you are now, and where you want to be as a healed, healthy adult.
Having clarity will give you the road map you need to move past the trauma, heal, and build up the confidence and courage to create a life that brings you peace, joy, and satisfaction.
Unrecognized childhood trauma can lead to making poor decisions in adulthood, one of those decisions being what led you to your ex in the first place. Getting clarity on healing, making better decisions, creating boundaries for your life, and taking action on your goals is the first step to thriving after divorce.
If you want to figure out where to begin, start here:
Don’t let more time pass by. Reclaim your life today!
Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love