Healing from trauma includes noticing ways we re-enact our unhealed trauma. I, personally, tend to "act-in" and create more trauma toward myself. I hold much of my anxiety inside.
On the trauma healing page, I began with the Richard Rohr quote that says, "pain that is not transformed is transferred." This section explains more about why that is. In my trauma healing class, the instructor told us that if not released, frozen or un-used energy from the trauma experience gets trapped in the body, where it wreaks havoc on our bodies in the form of stress or trauma reactions. This energy that is not transformed is then transferred through re-enactment.
Trauma is often re-enacted through:
- acting in against the self
- an unchanging story
- a desire for revenge
- acting out against others
Nancy Good Sider wrote in our class notes, "Unprocessed trauma results in physical and/or emotional (and spiritual?) hyper-alertness. The lower brain remains vigilant, always looking for the enemy in order to keep ourselves safe. Events and people are quickly given 'threat' interpretation. This is part of what is called 'acting out' re-enactment."
Acting-in (which is the most common and least addressed) re-enactment can be seen in:
- alchohol and drug abuse
- eating too much or too little
- depression, numbness, anxiety
- self-blame, shame, self-mutilation
- physical symptoms--high blood pressure, back/chest/joint pain, headaches, digestion problems, etc.
Acting-out can be seen in:
- child abuse
- inability to be flexible, tolerant, and show empathy to others
- high risk behaviors
- difficulty in intimate relations, domestic abuse, blaming irritability
- ? repetitive conflicts and wars?
Emotions and Re-enactment:
I have needed to be reminded that anger, fear, hurt, and shame are all natural and normal human feelings that have a healthful benefit to us.
Anger can be used healthfully to give us energy and empower us to act for justice, but blocked anger will lead to rage that causes us to re-enact violence either outwardly or inwardly.
Fear is a gift that protects us from self or others, it can also be a blocked emotion that leads to panic or terror.
Hurt and pain can lead to our growth and greater wholeness. It can also lead to despair and suicide if not worked through for healing.
A healthful use of shame is a humility where we are aware that we are not the center of the universe. It can also be unhealthful leading to internalized oppression, self-hate or inferiority.
Where do you find yourself on this page?
Where do you feel drawn?
What information do you want to push away from?
What grace do you need to continue healing from trauma?