What is your definition of “trauma processing”?

Waterbear

Learning
In the last year or so, I went from thinking shame, although often mentioned as a symptom, wasn’t a factor for me—after all, “what do I have to be ashamed of?”—to realizing that I’m basically shame-based, and much of my non-shock trauma (i.e., the more emotional, complex-trauma stuff) is indeed about me feeling shame, even when I shouldn’t be. Like I am shame, almost. A lot of the haunting memories that I’ve been dealing with lately are more about the shame and degradation I’ve felt all throughout life than the early beatings. This took me a long time to figure out.
I'm still in the "what do I have to be ashamed of" camp most of the time, though on a cognitive level I fear I maybe ashamed of feeling shame.
Thank you.

What does processing look like to me? Gosh, I don't know really. I'd like to be able to watch TV shows without being frozen in fear. I would like to have my past integrated to a level that I can accept that it is a part of me, but more than that to be able to speak of it to trusted people. I still don't talk about it, even with my T. The thought of it sends me flying into the "too much, stop, shutdown, spiral" zone. You've had some amazing responses here, and thank you for asking the question, pretty pertinent to me right now. I have often asked the question of myself, have I processed it or have I shut it down. If I trust my gut it has been shut down. What does processing look like? Frustratingly slow, painful, upsetting, random, two steps forwards, 4 back, a hop in the air and a leap to the left! Sorry I'm not much help!
 

Starfire

Confident
I’m wondering what other folks consider to be “trauma processing”. I’ve asked a couple therapists and still don’t feel like I really understand. It sort of feels like a squishy term, and yet, it’s supposed to be the path to healing.

I find that I’ve been running over the same ground mentally, involuntarily revisiting and reexperiencing past episodes of trauma, over and over again... I’d rather be doing just about anything else, since thinking about past horrors is so painful, but I can’t seem to be able to turn off these thoughts at will. So, when I get stuck on something distressing that won’t leave my brain, I find that the only thing “useful” that I can do is try to take a step back and contextualize it, seek to understand why it has such a powerful effect on me, try to objectively look for cognitive distortions that are counterproductive to my wellbeing, and hopefully defuse the emotional pull these memories have on me... But this doesn’t seem to be working very well. In other words, the same thoughts will keep returning, even after I do what I’ve described, and they continue to have power over me. It feels like I’m just going to keep cycling back through these same thoughts, never being able to escape. Sometimes they’re triggered by obvious things that are presently occurring, other times, they seem to emerge from out of nowhere (probably from triggers that I haven’t yet recognized). This has been going on for a few years—ever since I emerged from what seems to have been a decades-long fog (of general dissociation, I guess) and started to become conscious of the gravity of my past traumas (childhood abuse as the primary source, followed by various retraumatizations throughout life) and how they affected who I have become as a person in terms of my distorted perceptions, misplaced feelings, and maladaptive behaviors. It’s like a Pandora’s box has been opened and I can’t get it back closed, nor can I seem to move beyond it.

Is this “processing”? Even if it’s involuntary? Will it ever end? Do any of you experience this same kind of thing? Am I doing something wrong? I’m so sick of this. I’d do anything to turn off these thoughts and find some mental peace. I’m so frustrated and discouraged
At the outset of my therapy, my T said he didn't believe in retraumatizing me. Of course I didn't know what he meant by that or therapy for that matter. That means, I think!, we talk about it, see if and what effects it had on me, how it still is affecting my life, and how to change the deleterious effects. At times even be grateful for the strengths I developed because of it. T pointed out or more often
 
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