Imagine you are driving a car. It’s just you in the driver’s seat, and the roadway lies ahead. After driving a short distance, you realize something is wrong. Your car isn’t running properly. People on the side of the road begin staring and pointing at you. So you pull over to a restoration shop at the side of the road and get your car repainted. You head back out and continue driving. Your car is bright and shiny! Now, those on the side of the road are impressed by the look of your car, and give you a wave! You feel slightly better, but realize that the problem still persists. So you pull over to another service shop, and this time you get the tires replaced. You head back out on the road, but the problems remain. Stop, after stop, after stop, you continue pulling into different shops, and one piece at a time, you continue to get new paint, parts fixed, and things repaired. Something’s wrong, you just can not figure out what. Finally, you come to the realization that the only thing left to have a look at, is the engine. You never expected that this could possibly be the source of all the rest of the issues. Fixing the engine is scary, and you’re not even sure if you know a guy… If only you could just fix everything else, maybe the engine would start working properly? If you flushed all of the lines? If you replaced the spark plugs? Are you sure it’s not the battery??
This story is a depiction of the vicious cycle of complex trauma, and its effects on lives. Complex trauma directly affects the engine – the brain, and in over 97% of addicts, often goes unchecked. Those who suffer try treatment after treatment, program after program, and never actually achieve real, lasting healing. The reason is we’re only solving one side effect at a time, and never getting to the real “why”.
Those who struggle with addictions or mental health disorders, need to go into the shop for engine repairs and, I’m your guy.
Our current system tends to focus on the side effects of the hurt (how to overcome the addictions themselves), but I’ve dedicated my life’s work to striving to get to the source of, and forge healing from that hurt – I’m spending my time under the hood. Over the past few decades, I’ve discovered that the real solution – the real healing from this type of trauma, begins with unconditional love.
Complex trauma is any dynamics that cause a child not to feel safe or unconditionally loved. It occurs in childhood between the ages of 4 and 14, and happens at home, school or in church communities. This trauma can be real or perceived, and is not necessarily a form of physical, verbal, or sexual trauma.
Scientifically, complex trauma is defined quite well as following:
“The dual problems of children’s exposure to traumatic events and the impact of this exposure on immediate and long-term outcomes. Complex traumatic exposure refers to children’s experiences of multiple traumatic events that occur within the caregiving system – the social environment that is supposed to be the source of safety and stability in a child’s life. Typically, complex trauma exposure refers to the simultaneous or sequential occurrences of child maltreatment – including emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and witnessing domestic violence – that are chronic and begin in early childhood. Moreover, the initial traumatic experiences (e.g. parental neglect and emotional abuse) and the resulting emotional dysregulation, loss of safe base, loss of direction, and inability to detect or respond to danger cues, often lead to subsequent trauma exposure (e.g. physical and sexual abuse, or community violence). – Portland State University, Consumer Topic “Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents”.
Do you or a loved one suffer from complex trauma? Do you think so but aren’t sure? I hope this gives you a bit of hope. Please feel free to reach out, or access the various resources on the site. I can promise you there’s so much to learn and there’s so much hope – just be patient. We’ll get there together.