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  • Writer's pictureJessica Johnson

A Parent's history of trauma

Are you struggling with overwhelmingly negative thoughts about your child? Are you noticing hostility and anger building up inside you? Maybe you have adopted an older child and never dreamed that things would be this difficult.

If you seem to be overly triggered by a child with attachment challenges, you may want to consider this an invitation to take a personal journey into your own trauma history.

In Heather T. Forbes & Brian Post’s book Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control they use the example of a file cabinet to represent our trauma and memory. “The bottom drawer is the deepest level of memory, the state memory. This is where traumatic experiences that went unprocessed, unexpressed, and misunderstood are stored. Living with a child whose own behavior is driven out of a deep unconscious state of fear and overwhelm-eventually opens the parent’s bottom drawer. The buried trauma within the parent is directly related to the rage that then surfaces within the parent.

Until we are willing to take this journey, we will find ourselves circling round and round the same cycle of control, fear and intense behavior with our child.

Many times, we are unaware of trauma from our own childhood. There may be an emotional block or simply a gap in our memories. Getting on a consistent schedule with a counselor is obviously a vital first step in this journey.

Exercising self-compassion is also super important. Choosing to fill your mind with nurturing thoughts rather than thoughts like “I’m never enough.”

Lastly recognizing that healing these unconscious parts may require more than cognitive therapy. It may require healing on a cellular level. A few healing modalities that Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D. talks about in his book “The Body Keeps the Score” include mindfulness, sensory integration through dance and communal rhythms, EMDR, desensitization, theater and learning to inhibit your body through practices like yoga.

I realize that I have just barely scratched the surface on a subject that is both deep and sensitive, but my hope is that if this resonates with you today, you might find the courage to take a first step toward healing.


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