Trauma is just like a wound you would get on your skin: if you don’t clean it and get all the dirt and germs out, it won’t heal properly.
When I was in third grade, while on a hike in the desert, I fell headfirst (and eyeball-first) into a cholla cactus. Yes, it was painful, but as a kid, the real torture was being forced to leave a fun situation. Luckily a wise adult was there to cart me off to endure the wrath of tweezers plucking out each of those cactus spines, not to mention that horrible antibacterial spray. But, it was totally necessary, right? If I hadn’t have gone and taken care of the injury, I would have ended up with a much nastier situation that would
have taken longer to heal. I needed to take that time to nurse my wound and set myself on the right path to healing.
Talking about the trauma is just the same. We revisit what happened and address problematic issues stored with the memory such as self-blame, overwhelming physiological sensations, and the brain’s sense that the trauma is happening now vs. already over and done with. Talking about the trauma in the right way lets us get everything out so that the memory can be re-stored in the brain with more accurate information.
I recently hit a roadblock in therapy with a young kid while talking about his trauma. He tearfully cried to his dad, “I never talk about this? Why do I have to talk about this?” Sometimes, it’s my job to explain, but other times, it’s my job to hold space for that child’s person to explain. In this case, the child’s father came up with a beautiful metaphor and broke it down for the child in a way I never could have. He said, “Remember when you got that big splinter in your finger? You didn’t want us to look at it or take it out, but what happened? It just kept getting redder and redder, and hurting even more. I know it’s tough, but you have to get that splinter out because in the long-run, it’ll hurt so much less.”
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Hi friends! I'm Jordan Motta, a licensed therapist in CO and FL-- lover of both snowfall and ocean waves. A work-in-progress, constantly in search of a life of peace, a girl sailor with a pocket yacht, I love helping people find more options about how they want to live their lives. Follow me on Instagram @jordanmottaLMFT.