Trauma Part I

Every single life on Earth has been through some form of pain & trauma. We all have scar tissues that lessen the pain. It is inescapable, in fact, what is life without it? However, it’s how we deal with it & not allow it to define us. Maybe we become a little bent, but it does not mean we’re completely broken. Unfortunately, most of us go through life not realising trauma has been controlling our every action & choices. We may dread just hearing the word trauma, & some of us may simply want to forget & avoid being triggered. Bottomline is, most of us have only been surviving, & not truly living or thriving.

I want to cover this topic today (huge topic) as it is personally the most important area around mental health & what I am currently working on. It’s the main purpose of this whole blog. It’s the most toughest & uncomfortable job to do exploring the depths within ourselves, fearing what deep-seated pain, shame & unbearable truths awaits. I’m still figuring my self out endlessly & healing with my own personal traumas each day. It is something that cannot be escaped or avoided (the body keeps the score) no matter how far we move on, get on with life with new situations/experiences, or what we tell ourselves in comfort with what ever distractions/coping mechanisms we find – our body always keep the score. It’s a never ending battle, & healing is a life long journey.

There is a light at the end of a tunnel, that trauma can help grow & strengthen us when we RECLAIM our life by addressing how we react. Here’s the hard truth & reality about trauma – it NEVER goes away, but how we react can change. If we ever tell ourselves that we are healed or fixed, or completely resolved with it without ever needing to proactively work on our reactions or seek any help – we have lost, the war is already lost, & here’s why –

What trauma does, is it tells us a story to continuously live by. The story is fundamentally a cover – without it lies behind extensive fear, pain, shame & terror. Any thoughts or ideas about change is a threat to its survival & we start losing ‘control’. We start losing our ability to have healthy relationships with others, & most importantly with ourselves. Even writing this post has triggered so much helpless past-energy back into my bubble & I can feel my body physically react with shame, but it’s an illusion to the present time and that’s what it does to trick us. So in order for the trauma to continue doing this, it will tell us lies to avoid, escape & distract from the hard & uncomfortable truths for us to grow to keep us remaining in a victim, wounded & defensive/denial mindset. Our minds & emotions are our biggest manipulators & betrayers – through trauma it will convince us this is all that we’ll ever know, with resentment not far behind. It’s through these cycles that persistently leaves us feeling constantly on fight-or-flight mode. There’s no rest & it’s draining. However, we are the writers to our own stories & that’s how we reclaim our life back.

When we don’t own up to the responsibility of the trauma within us, by putting in the work, truly facing & confronting our inner selves to proactively heal or take the brave steps to seek the proper help – we would still continue to live in a cycle, repeating patterns, get caught up in easy indulgences, instant gratifications, obsessive addictions, & unaccounted destructive behaviours. It’s that requirement for over-excessive dopamine, the feel good hormone. As time moves on we remain stuck with the same score, the same chemically imbalanced brain & emotional dysregulation that can be self sabotaging. What trauma does, is it loves to avoid the task of healing, as healing is much more profoundly painful than the wound itself. Trauma is deeply debilitating with how we act/react unconsciously – we may hurt others or ourselves, & it’s a cycle that may last forever. As long as anything doesn’t threaten the trauma’s existence to survive in its host. There is a more intricate explanation for this as we look further into the neuroscience & Outer Child concept a little later.

The tough reality is, no matter what we do or can do, trauma will always be present, even when we’re no longer triggered or controlled by it, it will always be hibernating for its next opportunity to take control. It’s like an enemy that never sleeps, it’s why it’s present in our dreams or nightmares – before we sleep, or when we wake up. The trauma doesn’t get smaller, but we grow larger that makes it seem smaller. It’s a war that never ends, & it’s why we need to keep fighting the difficult battles to work on ourselves to keep growing – &/or – seek the help & the allies we truly need for our growth & mental health.

I’m in a long endless battle with my personal trauma’s, that’s still continuously going regardless of time. It’s a whole experience, mental, emotional & physical, and we’ll explore that very soon. However, we can learn so much from the wars we fight, from the books we’ve read, from the psychologists & counsellors we seek, there’s growth & beauty in our greatest battles & tragedies. It’s taken me decades to finally learn how to deal with my trauma’s that works for me, although it’s different with everyone I’ve personally learnt for my self that trauma cannot love or be loved, but it takes everyday effort to break that shame, & validate/attend & love my trauma’s as an extension of my whole self. My biggest lesson is that the trauma creates a story, but we are the writers. The only person we are destined to become, is the person we decide to be.

“Pain is not the enemy. Neither is negative emotion. All it is, is information that you aren’t where you want to be or that something needs your loving attention so that it can be healed and integrated.

We need to learn to go toward the pain with our consciousness to truly heal and truly awaken.

The only way out… is in.” – Teal Swan

This is going to be an immensely long post. I’m going to start off with explaining what trauma is & what it does to our bodies. I will also share my own personal childhood wounds which although are not as severe or intense as others – it is a trauma no matter how small. This may develop into a life story, but it’s worth telling my candid experiences.

Trauma can be defined as our reactions. As explained by the author Dr Sarah Woodhouse from her book I’ve recently started reading – our reactions create the trauma, not the event itself as an event is just a moment in time. No matter how cruel or unjustifiable the event may had been, it’s primarily an internal experience & we all react differently to different events. It’s essential for us when reflecting back to what happened to us, to ask ourselves what was going on for us during the time the event happened. As mentioned in her book, how it happens is not the event that happened outside of us ‘the trauma happens in us, not to us’.

It is an overwhelming perceived threat to us & our ability to respond. It’s an experience our memory is/was unable to process. It is our recycling reactions to the trauma & our coping mechanisms to manage our feelings. It is the dehumanisation & dissociation after the traumatic experience from our sense of self, others & the world.

So, what does it do to our bodies physiologically exactly? In the next book that has hit home by Bessel Van Der Kolk ‘The body keeps the score’ – what I’ve gathered from ‘Part Two: This is your brain on trauma’ explains the traumatic effects it has on our bodies through our nervous system.

The primary job of the brain is to ensure our survival. As part of human survival, we have two adaptive responses to threats, effective action versus immobilisation. Effective action eliminates the threat through fight-or-flight. Immobilisation keeps the body in a condition of shock & learned helplessness. When under threat, we secrete stress-hormones to fuel resistance & escape for our survival. Our brains & bodies are programmed to put stress hormones to rest by running ‘home’ where safety can be restored.

When trauma occurs & we dissociate, our internal signals with the brain/body connection no longer work. Crazy right? Our brains generate internal signals to register what our bodies need; create maps to go where we need to go; generate the energy & actions to get us there; alert us on dangers & opportunities along the way; & adjust our required actions in the moment. The brain is built from the bottom up. At the bottom is the brainstem that is responsible for breathing, hunger, arousal, sleep/wake, & chemical balance. In the middle is the limbic brain, where perception, categorisation, & emotional relevance resides. On top, is the prefrontal cortex where emphatic understanding, planning & anticipation, sense of time & context, & control over inappropriate action exists. Trauma can interfere with every signal & pathway throughout life. The prefrontal cortex in response to threat, is susceptible to go off-line, thus results in our immobilisation.

After a trauma experience occurs, our nervous system alters & it affects how different we experience the world. When immobilised, traumatised victims become stuck & unable to grow as they can no longer integrate new experiences into their lives. We become dissociated & disconnected with what’s around us. We focus on suppressing the inner chaos in exchange for the function to live in the present. Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, & other autoimmune diseases can physically manifest as our body continues to be under distressed. Our entire human body is affected by trauma.

A more simpler concept that I’ve learnt to understand why we behave the way we do from trauma is the Outer Child concept. From the book ‘Taming your Outer Child’ by Susan Anderson – the author provides our three selves; the Inner child, Outer Child, & the Adult self. The Inner Child is the part of us that feels, needs & wants. The Outer Child attends to the Inner Child in defence through reactive behaviour patterns by grabbing quick fixes & self sabotage. The Adult Self acts as executive in charge of nurturing Inner, parenting Outer, & achieving our goals. We can come to understanding by putting the pieces together that our Outer Child is the key driver in our reactions. The Outer Child’s primary purpose is to protect the Inner Child from an external event that had caused pain & trauma, although with good intentions, it may become quite problematic when it becomes an uncontrollable pattern. How often do we find our Outer Child feeling like an eternal victim to the trauma & react endlessly about it in a destructive & unaccounted way. How often do we find our Outer Child constantly blaming & pointing the fingers at what has happened to us, without ever changing, without allowing accountability to heal, & repeating toxic patterns. Our Outer Child will do anything at all cost to protect the Inner Child from any perceived threats. Therefore, if our Inner Child is chronically wounded & unhealed, the Outer Child will always be untamed to do anything it wants.

I’ve been exposed to many different people (from home, family, work, relationships) who have gone through their own unique personal traumas. I’ve witnessed the long-term effects it has on them, their relationships & their quality of life. I currently work in aged-care engaging with elderly clients for 4 years now, & it has opened my perspective to how much suffering one person can remain for a life time in this traumatised state. It’s quite painful to know that there is still an injured child within their ageing bodies, after all these years of surviving, the war is not over for them. However, we can’t change anyone or save/fix them – we can only learn from it, love them from a distance, & change what we can save about ourselves.

“Our emotional selves are children. And they never grow up. We just learn how to parent our emotional selves better.” – Teal Swan

I now want to take this opportunity to share my personal trauma’s along with the solutions I’ve found, to unapologetically speak my truth, & no longer feel shame or weakness behind it. Nobody carries the aftermath of the trauma we have personally endured inside our bodies, therefore we are entitled to voice our own truth & do all things that help us heal. Self compassion & accountability is the path forward, & I will no longer shrink in silence waiting for things to get better or for someone/something to rescue me or validate my experiences. I no longer want to numb the pain or parts about me, so I can begin the journey of true healing & acceptance, and become the adult I’m meant to be. I want to be free, end cycles on my own, find inner peace & search the lost child within that has been neglected long ago.

So here it is. My own personal trauma’s & the mind terrorism first began in early childhood, in fact as early as 14 months old involving deep abandonment. It would further lead on to neglect, rejection, isolation, emotional abuse, deception, & betrayal. It all began with my birth mother abandoning & leaving me as a toddler at only 14 months on her own mother’s doorsteps. Although, as adults we can no longer be a victim, as children we are ALWAYS the victim in this & any situation. All children need to be attended & treated, someone needs to be responsible, it is the biological requirement, it is life & death. I was yet to be introduced to God till a much later time in life, therefore I never had known a God exists – nor if there was a divine universe that’s pulling the strings that everything had to happened exactly the way it needed. I had no belief of a greater purpose growing up. Chronically I was lonely & often felt like an orphan. It was through this very first unresolved trauma, I had believed/felt I was all my life a victim & had lived with immeasurable shame, self-hate, & learned helplessness.

My mother suffered from depression, anxiety, guilt, shame & suicidal ideations, all biological pre-disposition disasters. We can only try to understand the battles that our parents & ancestors were going through, but as children we do not have the mental & emotional capacity to comprehend this. It was complicated enough my mother had me while dealing with her own wars, but fact is it can’t excuse her to blame an unborn child for her suffering & for her wanting to end her life. My mother would always play the victim in every situation from a far distance, thus blaming her children for anything that goes against her favour or what would bring further shame & disappointment towards her. This may be common in many cultures. In the Vietnamese culture (I can’t speak for other cultures I have no experience with, but I can assume it be the same), the ‘tiger parenting’ & tough love is standard. Truth is, we don’t create tougher people with tough love – we create damaged, unstable & emotionally inflamed volatile adults later on in life who have no healthy concepts on relationships. In particular, unstable men (as-well as women) who can not communicate their feelings & needs in a safe & secure way.

The story with us, is that she had never been in my life. She had moved on taking my older half-sister along with her new family & her new son to another state far away. Since then, she kept them all away from me throughout childhood, I was never close or in contact with my half siblings. She chose to live a happier life for her self, & that decision is none of my business. However, it was her words & actions without taking responsibility that was profoundly painful as a child to accept. I’ve lived with my grandparents since & she would stay in contact with grandmother when it’s convenient for her own needs. Not once has my mother called to talk to me directly, or ever said simple words like she loved me. There was never any communication throughout childhood, & she did not want to acknowledge that I was her son, particularly in public (even to this day, as an adult, she only wants me to be known as a friend to her people in her world). As much as I am committed to understand her reasons & her trauma’s, it requires so much strength & tolerance to accept this.

My mother has kept the disowning & dissociation true to the core – especially when my grandmother would mention about me to her throughout my teenage years, particularly when it’s either a milestone I’ve reached or when grandmother needs help with raising me – my mother would invalidate any achievements I’ve made & dismiss any responsibilities on her self. There was a pattern where my mother would validate my grandmothers struggles by consistently implying that I’m broken, damaged goods & the root of all problems to her & her entire family – to justify her reasons to abandon a child – it’s always to reinforce how they are all victims to my existence. All they’ve done is fear that I’m going to be a problem, criminal, drug dealer, gangster, some fear-based assumption, that’s going to hurt them or have revenge. Furthermore, they had always implied since childhood that I should be grateful for their mercy & hospitality for me to have a spot in the family, because I’m my fathers son.

My father, who I’ve never known or seen, was apparently some very bad man. He had cheated or lied with empty promises to my mother & ran away with all her money after impregnating her. I don’t know the certainty or facts behind the stories, I’ve only heard one side of the story from my mother & grandmother. He was still around when my mother was pregnant, & only left as soon as I was born. My grandmother told me that the moment I came into this world (which is a blessing!), she rang my father where ever he was to let him know his son had just been born & all he had to say was ‘Ok’, & hanged up. After that, they have never heard or seen from him ever again. So, I can understand the trauma that manifested for my mother, & the entire family after all they been through. As a young child, I took on all that responsibility & shame from them (not like I had a choice), became a people pleaser, & lived with the blame. As an adult now, I’ve been nothing more than strong, understanding & compassionate about it all with them & in some ways taken the responsibility to break the generational curses. My grandmother has been able to reach some level of understanding for a better relationship, but my mother has been so stuck in this trauma & never-ending cycle. If my father had never ‘stayed’ during her pregnancy, 100% guaranteed that my mother would had aborted me, she was only keeping me in hopes that my father would stay. So, the resentment & blame towards the child to serve her failed purpose, is understandable, but no longer acceptable.

It was a couple of months ago, I confronted my mother over the phone as a final plea to end this once & for all . When it comes to the history of communications with her, her justifications & explanations were never consistent with all my questions since childhood. The truth doesn’t mind being questioned, a lie does. My questions would all either be dismissed, deflected, or blamed. When I confronted her for the final time, with facts & logic, addressing how actions speak louder than words & I needed her to show up for it – her only explanation when she ran out of excuses was that she did try to love me as a child but apparently I didn’t let her – to – the fact that I was an evil child & was born from the devil, which didn’t make sense because I came out of her, & the irrational nonsense accompanied by her emotional reactive meltdown would continue – she would say my blood is not her’s that she is clean, my blood is evil, that we’re different & my blood is my dads blood & it’s impossible for me to change & how no matter what I say to her it won’t matter because everyone believes her, loves her & are on her side, not mine. These are all her projections that have no reflections on who I am, but it did hurt & that’s the pattern since childhood. When she threw that all at once, it re-triggered that childhood trauma when she said that to me as a child the exact same sentiment words that I have compartmentalise within my sense of identity & belonging. That’s lovely, those are the encouraging inspirational words to tell a child especially without both parents about their identity & purpose in life. That would so not create a sense of isolation & loneliness of despair & shame within. It reminded me of how I’d always had to be immobilised & apologetic about my own body, about where I came from. I remember countless days as a child staring in the mirror crying, ashamed of what I saw in the reflection. It was a trauma that I been living with, believing I was unworthy of anything good & nothing good would ever come out of me. Truth is, I accept & love my body & every cell that radiates within me today, I love all my imperfections & what makes me different. No matter how much effort there was to love my mother unconditionally or want her approval & validations since childhood – when she’s projecting all her shame, guilt, fears & blame onto me it was an unhealthy cycle that’s no longer acceptable & needed to end.

Long story short, I’m not that child anymore, nor am I a victim. I was able to stand up against my mother to get to a solution as an adult. I negotiated with her to end a cycle & for her to simply say 3 words ‘I Love You’ to me as silly & minor as it sounds – that she wouldn’t have to mean it – just as long as I can hear it as I was done with the explanations, to break one generational family curse & a cycle that she has never said before – regardless how empty it would be. The negotiation I offered would be that I would stop asking questions or bring the past up ever again or hold her responsible if she can say 3 simple words – so I can end what is no longer accepted & move forward regardless if she couldn’t give me what I want. After hours of directionless deflections & blame from her end, she ended up hesitantly saying it once her breakdowns began to fade. Thus, finally ending one cycle of trauma from both sides. It was one war that was finally over, for the Inner Child within me that never heard those words. Instead of blaming someone, & explaining how or why they tried or couldn’t do, just do it. That would be the end of that one journey with my mother. I don’t take things personal, I understand a lot of what she does & say are reflections of the relationship she has within her self. I let go of anything I ever held, forgave her, continue to love her from a distance as an adult that I am today, we simply can’t change people or the situation, so I focus on how I react, & we all moved forward in peace.

“Start to see the things people say and do to you as less about you and more of a perfect reflection of the tragic relationship that they have with themselves.” – Teal Swan

My journey with healing from childhood abandonment & overcoming self-sabotage is ongoing & it’s been terrifying to search within. Resolving one chapter with my mother does not mitigate the trauma in itself that had started from childhood. It’s important to validate the personal experiences & face the wounds to begin having accountability on correcting toxic behaviours no matter how small that may had been shut down by the voices of the world. I grew up with no secure attachments or sense of belonging throughout life, whether that be at home, school, & any where else which had left wounds & emptiness within that was never truly attended – until recently with the deep inner work & radical self love that has helped me discover a whole world full of worth that resides within me.

Home during childhood had always been a place that never truly felt like a ‘home’. It was an insecure/isolating emotionally-toxic environment to grow up in. It did provide a physical need, but where it was entirely absent, was the emotional needs. It was only my grandparents & my self in the household. I often found my self as a child that needed to attend or be responsible for my grandparents emotional needs, in exchange for the physical needs they had supplied back. However, when they can no longer provide physically as they grew older, I became completely responsible for them throughout my teenage & adult years. This has propelled me to become the more responsible adult & caregiver that I am today particularly with the elderly from the lessons I’ve learnt. This isn’t going to be now an episode of complaining & ungratefulness, as I am grateful to have God in my life & the blessings that followed – but these are the sentiment of my childhood that I am voicing for – & I’ve come to understand that not everyone is going to like what I say in life. My grandparents were on government income support (pension) & were not financially stable. We grew up in government housing in a low socioeconomic area. For a child, environmentally, I had always felt there was no sense of security, safety, or stability – externally, & internally. They had no assets or skills in today’s world, nor had they owned vehicles to drive. I don’t blame them & I’m grateful they had tried their best, but as a child I had resented it. They had no lessons or words to teach me anything essential. They were only good at what they had known to ‘survive’ from their past traumas & wars they had to overcome & escape from what no longer exist. They were good at staying home & living off routine, keeping the outside world out – to remain safe. Therefore, it often lead to sheltering, emotional neglect, control, living in fear, & miscommunication in the household.

As a child, I was always ‘metaphorically’ locked in my room, rarely exposed to the outside world. Although it kept me physically safe that I can understand today, it kept me away from freedom & a life I could possibly have growing up with other kids. My grandparents feared a lot about the world & this new country they are not very familiar with. They are from an older generation in Vietnam, hence there was a colossal generational gap & cultural alienation between them, my self & the society around us. Additionally, with a false sense of belief of who I was, accompanied by my mother’s smear campaign of projections & fears of this ‘devil’ child, they feared I would grow into one like my father so they kept me in fear of something that didn’t exist. Although, they had loved me in their own way, they also feared me in many ways & it was emotionally toxic, which contradicted the idea of love that they would want to have for me. “The truth is fear cannot coexist with love. Therefore, we must learn to dissolve boundaries with love by taking responsibility for our own energy. In doing so, we’ll raise the energy around us.” – Gabrielle Bernstein. This quote explains perfectly the cold, fearful environment that it was throughout childhood.

The only purpose they had intended for me was to be on the ‘ladder’ – go to school, graduate, & get a job. That is common in many Asian upbringings. A way to survive, but not to live. That was the grooming & conditioning that I had received as a child – I had no social life, no interactions with others. The only time I got to really get out of the house, was to go to school. They would use guilt & manipulation to control me as I mentioned before by being responsible for their emotions & wellbeing, & blame/shame when they couldn’t keep me at bay. It was emotionally exhausting, even so thinking about it, but I can only understand that that’s how they been raised by their parent’s & the ancestors. It’s that inter-generational trauma & cycle, but we as millennials have the power to break.

I had one childhood company growing up for some years, when my cousin around the same age was consistently left at our house for my grandparents to babysit during school. I depended on her immensely as my only company, socially, joy, & entertainment. She was the only connection to the outer world – which didn’t last long when she had to move to another area & no longer came over. That experience alone losing your only childhood company was also quite traumatic – it added to the chronic abandonment I had already felt, & there was grief & real loneliness from that lost attachment at an early age. I developed insecure & co-dependent attachment styles at an early age. I became completely withdrawn as a child with no one to see anymore & had wished she and her family could have taken me along with her in a way to ‘save’ me. However, everyone has their own path & not everyone is meant to be on ours. The pain of separation happened no matter how big or small, but we have to thank God for the larger plan that he has in store.

My grandparents were never emotionally available at home. As a quote from Teal Swan states – “Some parents consider clothing and housing and feeding (parenting) an act of self sacrifice. They then hold that “sacrifice” over their child’s head as a form of leverage. This is a form of abusive entrapment disguised as love.” I’m not the only one, particularly in my culture, to experience this. Although, I had no one left to share the experience with throughout childhood. The sense of loneliness often lead me to consistently compare with other kids & families. I’d often get gaslighted by mostly everyone that I was lucky to not have parents or siblings because they would rather be alone & be at peace – or that I was lucky to have grandparents because they loved me – what this does is it minimalises & invalidates the trauma experience. Yes we can be grateful, but as I’ve mentioned before nobody carries the aftermath of the trauma we have personally endured inside our bodies. As a child, naturally out of envy & resentment I used to believe the ‘leverage’ was held over me unfairly with no other privileges & advantages of having a parent. I often felt victimised as a child that I was not in a situation like other kids to succeed, but highly expected to. Other kids, would have some form of luxury that the parents could provide or afford, or they would have siblings & friends to share their experiences with. I was entirely alone to figure it all out, & this way of thinking as a child lead to an unhealthy habit of self-blame, shaming, feeling like a victim with constant comparisons & resentment. Thus, would lead to unhealthy get-aways & addictions to escape reality to cope early on – like getting hooked on the wrong people, cheap dopamine hits & desperate for connections and a sense of worth & belonging. I no longer blame myself, for how I had to to survive.

Growing up in school had always been a confusing & an immobilising time without a safe secure home to return to – it was through primary school I had first experienced bullying, racism & social alienation, which would continue on to high school. During school was when I began to watch the ‘ladder’, seeing other kids being dropped off by their parents, from their cars, with their siblings, in their social groups, having lunch packed for them, & hearing what amazing things they got up to at home & on the weekend. Nothing I could relate with or even begin to have connections with. So, as a child I often found my self focusing on what I didn’t have more than what I had & resented my self. The local primary school I had attended, from a low-socioeconomic area, rarely had other Asian kids, particularly in my classes, I was often the only one. Thus, there was no sense of belonging I experienced during school, socially, & culturally. I was often isolated & alienated from everyone, even the teachers who would iced me out – I didn’t know the English language until around year 3 & I was a slow learner confused about the world rather than learning what’s in class. The teachers would shame me for not having common sense, or behaving & reacting emotionally in an unacceptable way – it was when they would say ‘Don’t your parents teach you ___?’ that would add to the wound & leave me often crying in the isolated time-out corner of ‘shame’ in class. I grew up as a really angry, resentful, extremely triggered & trapped kid/teenager. It was being misunderstood throughout all of school by everyone & not being accepted by anyone that added to the trauma of abandonment & loneliness – I would grow insecurely attached to ‘friends’ only to realise kids in primary school & teenagers throughout high school are not permanent, trust-worthy, honest, or reliable to have secure relationships with.

During high school, I was given the opportunity to live & stay with my Aunty. As a teenager I always wanted to be a part of a family & have a ‘normal’ situation like everybody else. I took that window without a second thought as soon as it opened hoping it would fill the void within me. However, there were issues as the uncle in-law did not approved or accepted me. He made sure I’d wished I’d leave by making it hell, made every living second I was there as uncomfortable as possible, barging in with complaints with every move I had made, needing to walk on egg shells, & finding something to blame on for taking up their living space by being a burden to his family. There was so much guilt every time my Aunty & him were arguing because of my existence there. I wanted to be safe & loved so badly, but there was always conflict. I was living in fear & anxiety every moment, I never felt safe, one day it could get abusive between them & I’d be responsible for ruining the relationship between my Aunty & her husband. I was always hiding in the room I was staying in, making bare minimal contact with everyone in the house. It was on the sixth month, when I had arrived back from high school, I found my clothes in the bin – the uncle in-law reached a breaking point and threw my stuff out. I left, never spoke to him or that family again, & I didn’t want to cause any more issues or problems, & I returned back to my grandparents. Just a quick recent update, it’s been a decade since then, the past year I’ve been able to reconcile with my aunty & the uncle in-law as the adult I am today. Although, people can’t change, and he definitely hasn’t changed, it’s not personal, & it was all love. I wanted to change for my ex-partner which I will get to soon or write in my next post, to be a better family person & reclaim that life back from being a victim to what had happened. It was only a couple of months ago, the Aunty was breaking down over the phone with me to tell me that the uncle in-laws cancer is back & it has reached to his bones. They have kept this a secret that he had been battling with cancer for 5 years & it was heartbreaking. At the end of the day, we can’t have energy for hate. We can either love, wish them well & hope they heal.

I didn’t end up graduating from high school – my grades were affected throughout my teenage depression & mental health struggles. I couldn’t learn or process anything. After high school, I had a full time job working as a pick-packer in a factory. It was during these times I was able to buy my first car, & meet our neighbour. He was a man 10 years older than I was who had a family of three kids. We met when my grandmother didn’t trust I could take care of my first car, so she would ask & introduce our neighbour as he was some what of mechanic. I some what looked up to him. This would be the bridge to the bond that we had with the car & he would then become more involved/invested in my life. He became like a big-brother figure, or in some way, a father figure. My car became our mini-project, & my money I earned would be given to him to help with ideas.

Over time, the money would be then used for other things in my life, & in his, through his influence. He would tell me to consider him as my own personal bank. I fell victim to the loneliness, & not having anyone else to trust – he was an adult that I relied on, during those times. He would influence me to sign a phone contract for him & for his wife, under my name. He would regularly ask for money to borrow which accumulated over time, without paying back. He would then move to a new house far away miraculously with money that I helped supplied. I was trapped in this cycle, when I had gave him all the money I had worked for at the time as a 17-19 year old, for a ‘life changing’ procedure that I wanted done back then when I didn’t love my self – he had connections & knew how to get there when I was terrified to do it alone, so all my money, thousands, was given to him. After months of endless waiting for nothing to had happen, it all started to seem clear that I was not getting any of the promises or my money back, & I was in shock/denial to know I could be scammed or betrayed. That’s what happened after I confronted him, he began to ghost, & there was no proof to criminate him for, he knew what he was doing since the start, & never came back. I was completely traumatised & immobolised, alone, with no one to help, the shame was unbearable & the immense guilt I had letting my vulnerable grandparents know what happened after all the fears they had during my childhood – was one of my most darkest moments of guilt, self-sabotage & feeling suicidal with how much I was responsible for it all. However, the silver lining is that it helped me understand what my mother went through with my father. In hindsight, it had to happen exactly the way it did in order for the growth & lessons to come. That God needed me to grow through one painful lesson of lost & betrayal. It was after that one door closing, that another door had opened where fate had brought me to the Church & began a journey of finding God. One year later, I crossed paths with that neighbour again & we spoke for one last time, I forgave him & went our separate ways in peace. Reflecting back, I could have taken a darker path & fell down a regrettable road out of vengeance like my mother & grandmother had feared I’d become since childhood – but I chose a more compassionate & empathic path that I am proud of today to look back on. I could only know his suffering, his guilt, & he only did what he had to do for his family – no it doesn’t excuse his actions that went unaccounted, but at the end of the day everyone has a story, & I had rewrote my own that instead of a story of being a victim, it was a story of charity.

“Everything that has happened in your life has happened perfectly in order for you – and all the souls involved with you – to grow in exactly the way you’ve needed and wanted to grow.” – Neal Donald Walsch

One door had closed & another door had opened. Although it’s been a lifetime ago, I joined a nearby Church on my own – as I was searching for a place to heal & a safe haven to be. It was through this Church that opened a window to a family that had took me & welcomed me as one of their own. I gravitated strongly towards them as it had fulfilled an emptiness & void within me. They were a Polynesian family & within their compact home resides the Dad, Mum, Nana, Papa, & 8 kids (all under 9 years old) – as-well as two older boys that had stayed with them around the same age as me. It was a full house, not a time where you can get any privacy, but we all became so close & united. I was completely attached to the kids – particularly the youngest newborn – I wouldn’t go a day without spending time & holding him. They had very strong family values that resonated with the values I lacked & I wanted in life. Through the years I had stayed with them, they had taught & passed on their values & knowledge about the culture & the Church teachings to me.

It was on that very first day I had stayed overnight, when the kids gathered around me in the living room out of curiosity on that silent evening while everyone else were away. They all crowded around closely asking questions as they do – asking about my life, & where were my parents & siblings, if I had any – I had a moment of pause wondering if I should lie if I had a family to protect their innocence, but a moment of honesty filled the room when I replied ashamedly I didn’t had any, there was a moment of silence – till the eldest boy that was only 8 called me his step brother (what he meant was adopted) & the rest of the kids would then follow & call me that too – it filled the room of warmth & love, how they all surrounded me so close felt like a hug that I never received in my life before, & I fell into tears – from then on I would always be attached to them no matter how far. I felt seen & valued, especially every time the kids would tell their friends & others who I was to them – their older brother.

However, this is about trauma. I was extremely difficult to love, & be loved. The way I used to act/react back then were very destructive & selfish – specifically from how I had felt prior a victim all my life coming from an unhealed place. I had walked in chaos, everything I had touched ended up being hurt/damaged (not the kids) – but with the family & broken friendships from the Church. I had abandonment & attachment issues, I had severe distrust & insecurity – acting out my Outer Child ways. There were a lot of inter-relationship conflicts within the family & household I was primarily responsible for, where I often ran away from when things got tough, only to return with how much I was attached. How I was back then would clash with the Mum. That’s the debilitating impact on relationships my personal trauma’s had had, that really started to take place, when I began to have real relationships with people within this chapter & the next. In hindsight, God really did put me on this specific path to reveal my broken parts & what I needed to work on in the end in order for me to grow.

Although it was long ago, a whole universe away, the Church had provided a gateway during that time outside of that family to this whole new social world that were never accessible to my life before. I had felt like a kid in a candy store after all the trauma I had to survive, this new world really did felt like it hit a stride. It was temporarily therapeutic being accepted in the beginning by others. However, it didn’t take long to realise just how toxic these worlds really were & damaging when you have your priorities set incorrectly. It added more trauma on top, falling into the wrong crowds & getting involved in the wrong business. There were some good people in the Church, but I followed the wrong way back then, it is true what they say, that toxic people attract one another, our vibe attracts our tribe. That was one tough lesson though & I take full responsibility today on my past choices. Nevertheless, we can only grow with wisdom & knowledge through experience living life.

There was a ‘ladder’ to climb in the Church, which added to FOMO (the fear of missing out). To walk perfectly in a straight path of good imagery, to get along with everyone or be judged, walking on eggshells to not ignite drama, everyone knowing your business, to date, to serve a mission, return with honour, focus on your family, get married, start a family – I have no problems or complaints with that structure – but there had to be more to life that I had hoped for. Although I had that family in my corner all those years for support in the gospel, the experiences & that world with Church for me had still been very traumatising to walk that path on my own with the fears & shame I had carried. I didn’t had a relationship with God at that time, maybe it was too soon & not the right timing. I ended up leaving that Church after a year on not very good terms, & completely turned my back on the gospel once the family that I was with had moved to another state away. However, looking back on it now with what was gone had opened a doorway to a path of self reliance – that has made me a much stronger & independent person moving forward – that had set me on a personal solo adventure to rediscover my self & find God on my own path.

After the family was gone & the Church was no longer in my life, I was back with my grandparents – along with all the unresolved trauma’s & issues that were never truly healed. What it really meant was everything that had happened since I left home was a get-away distraction & avoidance (all the drama from Church, family, & people) from the wars that I needed to battle & win on my own. However, I didn’t know back then with what I know now about trauma & healing. I fell into the same depression & suicidal ideations that I had in high school & with my neighbour – the body keeps the score & I was still traumatised. I was still attached to that family, & was focused and committed to return to them one day, but only after I would become more successful & less ashamed of who I was, so they can all be proud of me. Throughout the beginning stages of that journey, I became close to a friend who we were able to share parts of our life & families, as-well as the goals we wanted to achieve – she became my best friend. She was my first best friend I ever had & what she had to overcome within her trauma’s & family dynamics taught me a lot, her family came from gangs & there wasn’t a day without conflict and drama – it opened my perspective & inspired me – overtime I became attached – as you would naturally expect from the trauma pattern & cycles I had. We both came from a place of trauma – however her wounds were immensely more severe – the closer we got the more I got to know her wounds that I became attached wanting to resolve & fix – she was only a child when it all happened, when her astray father sexually abused her, that left her damaged inside – she was the only person that had hit me deep that point of time & as-well as being my only friend I had back then – I felt deep sorrow & pain from the bond – and wanted to fix her – resolve the unhealthy & self-destructive ways I had saw within her, but that created distance & a divide between us. As we all learn through life, we can’t change anyone, or fix anybody. Some people don’t want to be saved, & it’s not our job or responsibility to change that, no matter how much we love & care for them, we can’t change people.

After that divide, we lost contact, & I fell into this immense helpless victim-mindset stage – where I felt dark despair, loneliness & depression. I had major breakdowns, self-pity & loathing when the accumulated trauma throughout life had overwhelmed my tolerance level during that time – how everybody throughout life had all left, how they have all abandoned that Inner Child – parents, siblings, grandparents (emotionally), childhood cousin, school, neighbour, church, the family, & that one best friend. It was during that time when I really began to become so dissociated from everything & the world around me; just one disappointment after another, it was a trauma. I rejected my self & everything that had to do with who I was; I lost any purpose & meaning of life; I had nobody & fell into a deep crisis. It ultimately lead me to briefly see a psychologist during that time, as I was very close to the edge & needed help.

Until – my whole life would entirely change that one random day when this one person had popped up in my life & the rest would be history. We’ve all moved on, we forgave each other for everything & ended things on ‘good terms’ ‘supposedly’, but I will touch base on the trauma itself I personally experienced & still healing from. There’s no hard feelings. In summary, this person came into my life coincidentally when I had needed, after a couple of months from my best friend being gone – through my darkest hours, randomly & unexpectedly. At that time I believed it was God that sent this person to me for a purpose – it was a blessing & finally my prayers had been answered – it was one of the reasons how I found God again over time, & started making my way slowly back into the Church. We had known each other couple years prior, but only very slightly – until she came back – we started talking after – every single day – for the next 4 years. This person is an ex – who was a friend, best friend, companion, & the closest person that I ever had who had came into my life that I believed was special – the relationship however simply was toxic – & how things had ended left me more damaged (from all the accumulated blaming/shaming & the invalidation/gaslighting she had developed to use – without playing the victim here – although she apologised in the end to end things on ‘good terms’, it left immense damage – particularly when she had known all of my story & ended up taking my mother’s and grandparent’s side in the end, & to say I’m just like my father & how everyone else was right) – I don’t blame her for expressing her feelings, in some way it was her hurt & truths that can’t be denied, she used what would cut deeper than no other before. It has been an open wound that had left me questioning & doubting every single thing that ever was.

We bonded through our own trauma’s in the beginning – our own problems that we had helped & supported each other get through – validated each other’s experiences & life stories how we were victims in our seperate situations back then – there was at least some genuine care & compassion back then – there was finally someone that validated everything since childhood – someone that finally see’s & accepted that abandoned Inner Child that was lost – someone I had wished I had in my childhood – those first years I had finally felt alive & I could experience life to the fullest – I felt safe, I was healing & living the childhood I had lost – I existentially grew with her on my side & built my life up through her – she knew everything about me inside & out – even with how close she got to my family & how close I had got to her’s – she was the first one ever to had been inside my home, along with her family meeting mine – this was for real – as it may had seemed – after all we were engaged towards the end, before it had all ended.

Throughout the course of the relationship it revealed all the trauma’s that would get in the way, particularly my unhealed trauma’s within me – where I’ve acted & reacted unacceptably – the red flags that existed, the co-dependency, & abandonment issues. My insecurities from my mother, the uncle in-law, the neighbour, the Church & that best friend. We could solve each other’s problems in life, but not the problems between us & the relationship. It may had been better if we were just friends, I wished we were. We both had our own unhealed childhood trauma’s, & behaviours that were not healthy, nor no longer acceptable, it was simply destructive & built on an unstable foundation. She had deep-seated trauma’s from her home, upbringing & childhood. Life had treated her unfairly. She was always stuck, with no freedom or peace. Betrayal, inconsistencies, emotional/mental & physical abuse she had received relentlessly from people in her life, particularly her parents & the structure she was in. The deeper we got to know each other, the more attached I was with wanting to ‘save’ her and fix/resolve her life & situations, particularly the childhood trauma within her that I saw were reactively destructive. Does this pattern sound familiar?

She was a good person & a good friend to have on your side, but her layers of unhealed trauma’s were frequently in the way – just like mine – it often felt like I was talking to a trauma & not the person I saw and had cared for. Similar to my old best friend. Although I can’t be a hypocrite, my unhealed trauma’s were just as problematic. However, there were so many things that were toxic, mostly the blaming & shaming. Unhealed wounds & feelings she had that were all blamed on me, that were all on my responsibility. She would always describe it as how I would always be selfish by saving & fixing attending to my self first while leaving her broken, leaving her to die, metaphorically, over & over. That I never cared or loved her – That I couldn’t fix her. I loved her when I didn’t love my self – but bottom line is what I’ve learnt about my self is you can’t truly love someone & understand their love languages the correct way when you don’t love yourself. I became responsible for her mental health, for her emotions, for her struggles & every problem that soon came after. I became responsible to meet her every need. I became responsible for unhealed trauma’s that existed in her before I had even met her, before I even knew her. I was fixing everything that I had started & done wrong with her, as-well as fixing my own trauma’s, fixing my relationships with my self, my grandparents, my mother, leaving the past behind to focus on her & the future we had. Fixing my self so I can be 100% there for her, & her only, to take on her trauma’s & needs. I took on those responsibilities, even when the pressure got tough, even when she blamed me for her wanting to end her life. It wasn’t healthy, & I was trying to detox it. Tried to detox myself & change for her without her needing to do anything or change about herself when she was unable to, for the sake of a healthier relationship, & for her to not leave with all those times she had given ultimatums. It was toxic that I didn’t leave. With all my unhealed trauma’s I’ve held & experienced, I’d gave my all to put it all aside to put her’s first as much as I could, I didn’t want to lose her, I didn’t want to lose anybody, but it was a war between love/accountability & guilt/shame. How often she had blamed, & we know now blame comes with shame, shame comes from hate – love cannot exist. Don’t get me wrong this all toughened me up & made me stronger in the end, in fact I’m surprised how resilient I was & capable of growth, being responsible for so many people, not that it was good for my mental health. However, every time I wanted to leave – for at least some healthy boundaries & space, there was always miscommunication & misunderstanding, her trauma’s would trigger – her own abandonment issues as-well as mine would take over.

It wasn’t easy & we made so much unimaginable progress – at times it felt like it could possibly work – but some cycles need to end & remain broken for things to truly change. However, it was the break up & how things ‘ended’ – that was the most painful trauma I had experienced, with her ghosting & leaving me hanging, without a closure, without a word after 4 years, & it is the reason why I started taking accountability & awoken deep healing in this area in life to overcome the grief that I’m solely responsible for to heal – but I will write that in my next post. Long story short, I had to lose her to end a cycle for change, for the both of us. I never had known this loss/heartbreak & abandonment pain could be more painful than what I’ve ever experienced – but to be on this path that I am on today – being awoke, doing the inner work, healing from abandonment & overcoming self-sabotage – making peace – after the separation – it was for my own good. With this new journey of finally having to learn to have a relationship with my self – without relying on anyone, & to be whole again. I will continue about this in my next post Part II. This post is already long enough, & it’s time to wrap it up.

That’s my story of personal trauma’s I wanted to candidly share, unashamedly. Finally, it was the end of last year, when I took a leap of faith & reunited with the family from Church. It had been 7 long years of no contact, all the kids were no longer kids – but teenagers now going through their own personal battles & journeys. It was to my surprise that they still call me their older brother. The Dad & Mum were so proud of the person I had became, the person that the relationship with the ex had shaped me to be, how it toughened me up to match their standards. It truly had come to one full circle. With the 4 years with the ex & her world being what seemed to be over, the dust had cleared, as I reflected back on that distant world that felt like a dystopia through all the smog that I once had glorified & was so attached to. I’ve been working on the relationship with my grandparents, as-well as with my mother as I had mentioned in this post earlier. Furthermore, a couple of months ago I reconnected with that first old best friend I had & we momentarily caught up. It had been 5-6 years since the divide & lost contact. She is in a much happier place now with a healthier relationship with someone that’s good for her, she’s no longer living that unhealthy & self-destructive ways – & she’s gotten her self out of the toxic environment she was in & no longer being stuck as a victim. In fact, she has been bravely getting the professional help she needed, & taking a lot of ownership on her own childhood trauma’s & reactive behaviours. The insightful & to the point talk with her, with what we can thoroughly discuss on trauma & overcoming the victim mindset, along with how much she had grown, was much needed closure from an old friend as adults now I didn’t know I had needed, for everything, particularly what I had stood & cared for. It validated what I had felt all those years about owning up to our trauma’s & being able to take responsibility – that this is the right path, towards accountability & true healing. Thus, it has truly come to a full circle that I’m grateful for the Universe & God to have had put me on this journey.

Who I am today, is world’s apart to who I was back then. The way I conduct & approach things with how I act & react is completely different from 5 years ago, & unrecognisable from a decade ago. I no longer make excuses for things I no longer accept from myself, & from others. I no longer make justifications for my actions that may hurt others. I explore within myself, & hold myself accountable. I’m proud of the person that I am becoming, & I’m grateful for all the experiences & the people that came & went. I will continue to seek peace & growth by creating space for my blessings, discover my strength in accepting & directing my weaknesses, managing my emotions & reactions better, & remain focus on all that is good.

I have forgiven my self, & who I had to be to survive since childhood. I’ve forgiven every single person that has ever done me wrong, & I understand from their trauma that everyone has their own story and nothings ever personal. I take full responsibility to heal & fix my own self. God can’t change people or my situation, when his trying to change me. He needed me to continue to outgrow the old skin I was meant to shed each season. Although all these experiences are way behind me, it is still a part of me or an extension of my whole self, & an important piece to my growth that I will honour unapologetically. It’s accepting that it has happened, but it no longer defines me. The only person I am destined to become, is the person I decide to be.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis.

“We can hardly bear to look. The shadow may carry the best of the life we have not lived. Go into the basement, the attic, the refuse bin. Find gold there. Find an animal who has not been fed or watered. It is you!! This neglected, exiled animal, hungry for attention, is a part of your self.” – Marion Woodman

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