Writing About Childhood Trauma

Trauma-PTSD-therapy-Raleigh-North-Carolina

Some years ago when I was in my 40s, I recall a good friend telling me that her 62-year-old mother was having a nervous breakdown. When I asked her what was going on, she said that following her divorce, the trauma of her childhood resurfaced. Her mother had been orphaned at an early age, and now that her husband was leaving her, she felt that the wound of abandonment was being reopened. When this occurred, she sought ways to numb her pain, and eventually found solace in drinking excessively. When my friend pointed out that this was counterproductive, her mom sought the assistance of a mental health-care professional to help her examine her past wounds and figure out ways to move forward productively.

As an advocate of writing for healing, I often find that there are students in my workshops who are trying to come to terms with past traumas. A large number of those dealing with such traumas have been holding onto, and are dealing with, events that occurred during their childhoods. The traumas can be psychological or physical or both. While they might not be readily obvious, many of these traumas can lead to addictions that manifest themselves during adulthood. They can include any and all types of addictions, such as those to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, love, and gambling.

Gabor Maté, M.D., the author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, and someone who has dealt with addicted individuals in Vancouver, British Columbia, believes that addiction is really only a symptom, but the fundamental problem is actually a history of trauma. He says that addictions originate from a place of pain, and that once people understand their trauma, their addiction can be dealt with successfully. The traumatized individual tries to self-medicate as a way to cope with the memory of their trauma or as a way to numb the pain of the lived experience. Healing from the wounds of the past occurs only when individuals are able to identify or discover the root cause of their addictions. This is most easily done through psychotherapy — usually via talk therapy and sometimes augmented by writing therapy. To read more from Diana M. Raab, click here.