Sadly, some of us experience such extreme trauma in our lives that we push our feelings deep, deep down inside, to cope with the unbearable pain. It’s too overwhelming to deal with the emotions all at once, so we force them away, dealing with them bit by bit as they emerge from deep within.
And rather than feeling something is going very wrong when those buried emotions emerge, it’s often a sign that you’re ready to heal on a deeper level.
You are finally feeling safe and stable enough to deal with the past traumas, and associated emotions that have been repressed for years.
This is because trauma comes in stages
During or straight after the trauma, you tend to shut down your emotions so you are not overwhelmed. Eventually, you’ll start to ‘put the past behind you’ and go back to building your stable life. Sure, you’ll probably still have some triggers or nightmares, but over the years you’ll start to feel ‘normal’ again.
But then those emotions – the fear, the anger, the sadness, the heartache, the helplessness and powerlessness come flooding back!
So how do you handle the re-emergence of trauma emotions?
1. Know this is normal
Emotions re-emerging are a normal part of the trauma recovery process. You are in no way going backwards, your mind simply feels you’re strong enough to deal with these emotions once and for all.
2. There is no way out but through
The only way to fully heal is to let yourself feel these residual emotions, deal with them and then finally release them from deep inside you. This process is challenging and guidance from a psychotherapist is recommended.
3. Take it easy
You may find these emotions to be a bit overwhelming so take your time. It may take some practice. However, to slow the flood of emotions and reduce your anxiety, allow yourself to feel the emotions for a set time each day, Journaling can be a great way to accomplish this, bringing awareness to the feeling, allowing expression, and emotional release.
No matter what happens, give yourself some credit for the progress you’ve made
Recovering from traumatic life events will take time. It’s like being a small child learning to walk. When you think you’re up and running, you may have set backs, taking you back to needing little steps again.
You may feel that your family members don’t really understand what you’re going through. Psychotherapy sessions can give you a safe place to release your emotions, and provide a supportive base if you’re struggling to cope. You will also learn new skills to manage post-trauma symptoms and emotion providing a newfound sense of hope.